NEWS

Pedobear Goes From Internet Meme to Safety Concern

By Carlton Purvis

Internet memes die hard. And for law enforcement in the southwest, Pedobear is the meme that just won’t go away. Authorities in New Mexico say the meme has been adopted by sexual predators targeting children – a claim being laughed off by blogs and Internet meme trackers who say Pedobear is a harmless joke.

Pedobear is a character made to mock pedophilia that first appeared on the Internet forum 4chan and subsequently spread throughout the Internet, according to Urlesque’s Meme Tracker. Pedobear’s image, a brown beady-eyed teddy bear is often photoshopped into otherwise harmless images online to add an element of implied inappropriateness for humor.  Authorities aren't laughing.

Last week, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office published a statement saying depictions of the bear around Albuquerque could be an indicator of increased child sex offender activity in the area.

“Our Internet Crimes Against Children unit has received reports that the Pedobear window sticker has been sighted in Albuquerque on at least two vehicles recently,” New Mexico attorney general Gary Kind said. The stickers can be purchased from a number of places online.

“The bear is cute, but that is what the pedophiles are using to identify each other,” said Lynn Southard of the New Mexico Attorney General’s office in an interview with Albuquerque news station KRQE. Southard also said Pedobear was placed in children’s games online to attract them to pedophiles’ Web sites.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office last year disturbed a bulletin it was provided by the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement San Diego Task Force (SAFE). SAFE monitors and tracks sex offenders and conducts training for local law enforcement agencies. The bulletin said the task force had come across images of Pedobear “in situations during which they were contacting those that exploit and/or abuse children.” SAFE says Pedobear should be associated with pedophiles and sexually-preferential offenders who use him to communicate their interests in young children to each other.

“The Internet postings and photographs, some photo-shopped, some not, refer to children in a sexually provocative manner. His cute face and non-threatening appearance negate the truth of his sinister, much darker side,” the bulletin states. (Page 1, Page 2)

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Rob Bryn was surprised that the Pedobear turned up in the news once again because the bulletin was actually issued around two years ago.

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