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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Dark Side of the Kid Community - Pen Dragon Reporting



 Due to the nature of, and implications of, this article no real names will be used to protect those who spoke with me in regards to this topic.

Second Life is a fantasy world where we can be and do whatever we, as residents, choose. Some people engage Second Life as giants or superheros while some live out a more opulent life than they could afford in reality. The range of possibilities are endless. Most people live their second life as adults, but there is a very large community of child avatars on the grid. According to most Second Life kids I spoke with the kid community is relatively safe. With family communities and teen hang-out sims there are a great deal of places for children to go and be safe, living as children should. However,as with all large population groups, there are inherent dangers and because we are dealing with child avatars these dangers are considered more heinous. While the Linden Labs Terms of Service (ToS) forbid things such as sexual ageplay, the allegation is that these things still happen and that there is a large pedophile community active in Second Life.

Not being involved in the family roleplay of Second Life until very recently I was rather oblivious to the issues that faced child avatars. I was aware of the term ageplay, wherein an adult plays the role of a child for the purpose of engaging in sex with an adult, but had never seen it first hand. A few weeks back, very shortly after adopting a child, I began a search for a place for us to vacation and stumbled across several sims that claimed to be family friendly nude beaches. While I found this disturbing I also know that there are those who live a naturist lifestyle and they too need places to spend time as a family but when I mentioned these places to a child friend of  my family she immediately told me that it was well known in the kid community that some of those places are home to predators.This disturbed me deeply and sparked my investigation into these allegations.



I began my research by digging through some of the history of Second Life and came across a report by Britain's Sky News on a pedophilia ring they discovered back in 2007. According to the report one of their journalists joined Second Life because he too had heard of this activity and went to investigate. He soon found that, according to his report, there was a virtual playground hidden away behind a strip mall, a playground where little girls who looked about 10 years old offered the Sky reporter's avatar a variety of sex acts. This playground was called ‘Wonderland” which the reporter believed was a reference to a child pornography ring that had been broken up by the British authorities. The response from Linden Labs was that the area was not age specific and because, despite looking like children, they claimed to be over 18 they had no intention of taking any action. I’ve searched for this Wonderland myself with no results but that doesn’t mean a similar place doesn’t exist, so I began to search the Second Life grid.
Most of the locations I found were relatively empty, and I made sure to check them multiple times at different hours. At most I found 1 or 2 children dancing or playing with no adults in sight. One sim owner even messaged me to ensure that I didn’t have bed intentions and made it a point to send me the sim rules. All had signs that stated clearly that certain areas were either clothing optional or strictly nude. Again, these were all advertised as Kid or Teen friendly. After several days of searching and investigating I was left lacking any hard evidence of any illicit activity, so I began asking some of the children I knew.

SLE: You've been in the kid community for a while..how big a problem is ageplay or pedophilia?
“Jane”: It's getting better  than when I first started, but that's mostly because I went to all the wrong places. Since then I've not had many issues. The schools and kid community areas are all pretty safe, as well as most communities. When I was first exploring I went to a place called little playground but it was a bunch a pervs too. Seems like that's a thing in those kinda places

“Jill”: It really depends on where you go. There are safe places and there are some that aren’t. Most of ‘em it’s hard to tell until you get there. I just wanna be a kid. It’s gross!”

SLE: Do you know of any of those "wrong" places today and were you propositioned for sex frequently?

“Jill”: There was a beach, golden something or other. It was really bad. I couldn’t stand it. I never felt safe there.

“Billy”: I landed at a beach one time and everyone IM’d me asking some pretty creepy stuff. It was gold beach or golden beach. I dunno, I never went back.

“Jane”: That beach...golden sun is really bad, I was searching for beaches to take pictures at and stumbled across that one a few months ago and it was constant sexual IM's. I'm not sure if the littles playground still exists, but I think unless you accidentally come across these places you'd have to go looking for them because I do find most places now pretty safe.

“Jimmy”: I’ve heard of this Golden Beach, but never been there. It kinda scares me.

Golden Sun Beach. I had to find out if this place still existed and what was really happening there. After a cursory search I was easily able to find the sim, if it was the same sim at all.
I landed and looked around the landing zone. There were plenty of signs and warnings about no sex or nudity just as there had been at everyone of the other sims I had visited but as I moved my camera around I noticed something. There was a statue of a police officer stopping a naked man from entering one of the many shops that lined the area. What made this more disturbing were the children standing inside that very shop. They seemed to be chatting normally as though nothing was amiss.



I caught sight of a large group gathered at the other end of the mall area and approached to see what I might find out. They were gathered on a beach, some dancing but most standing idly. There were mostly scantily clad females who looked to be no older than teenagers with a mix of older looking males in the mix. As I stood I noticed that there was no one talking in local chat. For a group that size, I estimate between 20-30 avatars, I found that unusual. As I looked around the beach I found an older man standing naked behind a couple of younger looking girls who were sitting and reading on a beach lounger. Almost at the same time I received an instant message saying:

“Girl”: Hey misters, you wants a gud time?
I asked how old this girl was and she responded with 18. When I asked why her avatar looked so young she said:
“Girl”: I’m just small for my age.
Frighteningly, this was not the last time something of this nature occured. I visited this location again to see if, maybe, hopefully, this was a one time occurance. Sadly each time I returned there were more messages, all in the open, in local chat. A few were from adults to children, some were the reverse.



That raises the question, who is responsible? There is the possibility that this is happening without the knowledge of the sim owner. It was clearly stated at the landing point that this behavior was not tolerated and because this was happening in instant messages and not local it could be difficult for the sim owner to discover. The fact that I only received one message of this nature doesn’t prove anything, it is not empirical evidence that ageplay is secretly accepted. However, when taken with the anecdotal  evidence provided by the child avatars I spoke with it would lead me to believe something more sinister is going on.



For the sake of transparency and fairness I reached out to the person listed as the owner of the Golden Sun Beach groups, a woman named Sunflower. I sent her my message, innocently at first, saying: “ Hi Sunflower, I'm assuming you own Golden Sun Beach? If so could you contact me when you are online, please? Thanks!” I waited a full week for a reply that never came. I reached out again, via Instant Message, with a similar request. Still no answer after a week.I sent a final instant message getting no response before I wrote up an official interview request and sent it in note card form. Within the hour I was contacted by a woman claiming to be the CEO of the establishment. She requested not to be named. While we spoke for sometime as I presented her with the allegations of what was happening at her sim, she gave guarded and non answer answers, stating only that these people were clearly trolls and that Golden Sun Beach had “No Comment” on the activity. She asked, very clearly, that none of our interview be reported in the article.

I did my due diligence while researching for this article and found that, according to the kids I spoke with, Second Life is becoming far safer than it had previously been and there are far more safe places for people to role play as a child than there are dangerous ones. That being said, there are still serious dangers facing the kid community. This article is in no way intended to be proof positive that these activities are accepted and approved by the sim I visited. It is simply a look into the darker, more dangerous side of Second Life and the kid community.  

This investigation has opened my eyes to the truly sketchy people in Second Life and I will be bringing you further investigative reports on other places that may seem to hide in the shadows of the kid community.


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