(This is the second of a three-part series on the dangers of dating apps and teenagers. See the first in the series here.)
It is obvious to tell teens on dating apps their vulnerability to sexual predators. What is not so obvious is the danger to adults when teens use these apps.
In June, a Houston man used the dating app Plenty O’ Fish to meet an 18 year-old woman. After talking online for three days, the woman invited him to her apartment. When he arrived, the woman claimed to need to take a phone call. When she left, two male teens approached with a gun. When the man had no money and refused to take them to his car, the teens shot him. The man survived by playing dead and calling 911 when his attackers fled. The girl was only 14 and had done the same scheme with another victim.
In Indiana last month, a nineteen year old man used the app, Hot or Not, to meet a 17 year-old girl (“of age” in Indiana). The two meet and have sex. It turns out the girl was only 14. The girl testified at his trial and admitted lying about her age. She said, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you my age. It kills me every day, knowing you are going through hell and I’m not. I want to be in trouble and not you.”
However, even if the sex was consensual and even if the girl did lie about her age, it is not a defense under most statutory rape laws. After a short jail sentence he is listed as a sex offender for 25 years. As such, he cannot live with his parents because his brother is 15. He is forbidden from using computers or smart phones to communicate with minors the rest of his life.
These stories aren’t just important for adults to reconsider their use of dating apps. Teens need to know them as well. The Indiana story shows what a young teen can do to someone they care about when they lie about their age in these apps.
For a list of these apps see my previous article on dating apps.
ABC 13 Eyewitness News. (2015, July 6). Police: Man played dead after being shot in southwest Houston. Retrieved from News: http://abc13.com/news/police-man-played-dead-after-being-shot-in-sw–houston/831467/
Kasparian, A. (2015, August 5). How a dating app hookup landed a teen on the sex offender registry. Retrieved from Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/08/teen-listed-as-a-sex-offender-for-dating-app-hookup/
Phillips, K., & Fitzpatrick, D. (2015, August 4). How a dating app hookup landed a teen on the sex offender registry. Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/03/us/dating-app-sex-offender-registry/
Shay, M. (2015, July 10). Charges dropped against teen accused of luring shooting victims. Retrieved from ABC 13 Eyewitness News: http://abc13.com/news/charges-dropped-against-teen-accused-of-luring-victims/840675/