Gale Bauer was conducting research online when she came across a live video of a young girl. She read in the comments that the girl was 10-years-old.
The mother of two was shocked when she saw the child performing acts, including a few that were sexual, which were being suggested by commenters.
She later wrote on Facebook that the video had been streaming for several hours and that more than 5,000 people were watching.
Immediately, Bauer jumped into the comments to urge the young girl to turn off her camera and to get her parents.
Bauer wrote on Facebook:
The predators online asked her everything from show me your feet to instructing her what to do with her clothes and how to position the camera on her bed as well as other things I will not even mention here. I desperately typed in comments telling her I was calling the police and that she needed to go get the adult in her house, she ignored my plea.
Even though Bauer was ignored — and was eventually blocked by other users — she continued to monitor the conversation. A few minutes later, someone asked the girl where she lived and she revealed the name of a small town in Canada.
Bauer picked up the phone and called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Since the girl mentioned she was from a town with only a few hundred residents, Gale said the police felt certain the girl could be found.
Less than an hour later, the account was deactivated.Odd Harmonic/Flickr
Bauer was appalled by the video and took to social media to share her story to protect other children. She shared on her Facebook page and on The Kindness Challenge, a private Facebook group.
Please, please talk to your children and grandchildren. Watch them, don’t think they would never do that because children will. It is not their fault and it is our responsibility as adults to protect all our children.
In an interview with Dearly, Bauer said she saw another child online the following day. This time the child was younger, she said:
“I am struggling as to what I can do as an ongoing effort. I reported last night’s case to the agency that oversees child sexual exploitation. But something needs to be done.”
Bauer told Dearly that she found the video while scrolling through Periscope, a live streaming application that was acquired by Twitter in 2015, but noted that she intentionally omitted its name from her post to prevent singling out the platform.
Live videos have become increasingly problematic for many websites and social media platforms to monitor. Forbes reported earlier this year that live video applications such as Periscope, Facebook Live, and Musical.ly are being used by child exploitation perpetrators to groom potential victims.
According to the Sunday Express, Periscope came under fire in January after two school children were propositioned by pedophiles during a live video. At the time, live video applications came under increasing pressure to improve reporting capabilities and increase security.
Currently, Periscope’s community standards state that sexual activity, graphic imagery, and other illegal acts are prohibited from being broadcast using the application. The company also has a “zero tolerance” policy for any form of sexual exploitation. Users can report inappropriate videos directly to Periscope.
Facebook and other applications have similar systems for monitoring and reporting illegal behavior. However, as the Guardian reports, it may take hours for the videos to be removed after they are published. Additionally, new videos and accounts are continuously being created.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends that individuals should report cases of sexual exploitation to the Cyber Tipline online or call 1-800-843-5678.
In addition to reporting child sexual exploitation to the center, Bibb County Police Sargent Linda Howard told NBC News that users should call the police if the online activity appears criminal or if there is immediate danger:
“Please alert law enforcement. Don’t just tell them not to do it or ask if they are OK. Call 9-1-1.”
WFAA recommends that users should try to capture as much information about the crime as possible. One solution is to record the live video on your phone to submit as evidence.
If a person is committing a crime, it is strongly encouraged that users do not try to contact the person. However, if the video does not include criminal activity, you may try to encourage the person to stop.
Bauer told Dearly that she’s currently looking for new ways to prevent digital child exploitation in her hometown. For now, she plans to continue monitoring social media sites and reporting inappropriate videos of children when she sees them.
Dearly reached out to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to confirm Bauer’s police report, but they were unable to provide a comment.