Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Teen Model Web Sites: Modeling or Exploitation?

by Julie Posey

Updated: Saturday, January 29, 2005 18:10

Webmasters are now involved in recruiting large numbers of young people as "teen models.” The Webmaster creates a membership Web site where he or she charges a set fee to those wishing to join. The fee is usually between $9.95-$19.95 per month. After the potential member pays his or her membership dues, he or she is then given access to the photos of the young teen or preteen models. The membership fee allows the member to view the images of children sitting in their underwear, posing in provocative positions and if they are wearing any clothes, they are very revealing clothes that most parents would not approve of their child wearing.

These Web sites display girls as young as seven years old posing provocatively in their underwear or swim wear. Some even go a step further and show the girls nude with their hands covering their private parts.

They enlist the help of the parents of these young people and obtain their permission to photograph or videotape children for their Web sites. Parents and young people are paid from $150 to $500 for allowing the photographer to take pictures or record videos of the children.

Most law enforcement agencies across the United States and other parts of the world consider the content of these sites to be art. The images seen on the public or non-member areas of these sites do not meet the federal guidelines for child pornography.

According to the owners of the Web sites, these are just young innocent girls, who would like to become professional models one day. With their images and portfolios online, talent scouts are more likely to discover them and the girls could actually become professional models one day and in the meanwhile, they can make some money too.

The site owners also claim that there is no connection between these innocent teen models and the adult pornography industry. They say that if anyone other than professional model seekers and talent scouts are looking at these girls with other thoughts in mind, it is their problem.

These sites are marketed through adult pornography sites using such ad slogans as:

Can Jail Bait Be This Hot?
So Sexy You’ll Want to See Her Nude.
Sexy Preteen Will Pose However You Like.
He's so cute that even his mother can't leave him alone,
Hundreds of young people are become victims of sexual exploitation and prostitution with the use of the use of digital cameras and Web cameras.

In one case, a 42-year-old man called himself a high fashion photographer. He was arrested, charged with sexual exploitation of a child, and held on a one million dollar bond after it was discovered that he was operating a child exploitation Web site. It was estimated that the site was generating a monthly income of at least $60,000.

The man recruited young "models" aged 13-17 on his Web site. He would then contact the unsuspecting parents and give them a sales pitch about how their daughters would be paid up to $150 for each modeling session and may be taken to other locations out of state to perform. The parents signed a consent form which the man used to manipulate the girls into believing what they were doing was perfectly legal because they had their parent's permission to perform.

In a pedophile newsgroup, one person wrote about a teen-modeling site, "I kind of wonder if this girl would be looking for sex with a man. She certainly is a very pretty girl. She looks about 9 or 10."

Safety Tips

Use extreme caution when allowing a child to upload or send his picture to anyone online. Never allow nude, sexually explicit, or provocative photos to be placed on a Web site. These photos may not be illegal and may be considered art but a pedophile can double as a stalker very quickly when he finds stimulating material to add to his or her collection of images of children.
Before you allow anyone to photograph or videotape your child, be certain that you know how the images will be used. If the individual promises to place the images on a Web site, ask to see the subscription area of the site.
Check to see if the photographer is associated with a legitimate modeling agency by contacting the nearest Better Business Bureau, the state licensing, or regulation agency in the state where the modeling agency is located. Check with your Department of Public Safety or Bureau of Investigation to inquire about procedures for checking on a criminal history associated with the photographer.
If your child is asked to pose nude or in sexually seductive positions, the agency is not reputable even if they claim to have models featured in magazines and promise the child a profitable career in modeling.
A parent, guardian, or trusted adult should be present during all photo or video sessions. Never allow a photographer to provide transportation to or from a photo or video shooting session when the child is alone with the photographer.
Always remember that if the offer sounds too good to be true, there is probably a catch or some consequences attached to the offer. Many child molesters pay children or their parents enormous amounts of money to insure secrecy while they exploit them.

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