Teacher Sends Girl Photo of his Penis, Offers Her $50 for Sex

A Washington state teacher and track coach, Ernest “Ernie” Ammons, has been charged with Facebook friending a former student then offering her money to have sex with him.

According to King County prosecutors, the 16-year-old high school student said she accepted Ammons’ friend request last summer and began talking with him via phone, text message and Facebook. The conversations became sexual and teacher allegedly suggested they have sex in his truck or the school’s weight room. He also began sending pictures of himself and his penis and offered the girl $50 for sex an offer he increased to $100 after she asked if that’s all he thought she was worth.

It was a friend of the girl who told school officials about the inappropriate conversations. Though he confessed to the charges when confronted by his boss, Ammons has not yet entered a plea to the charge against him. He remains free pending the case’s resolution.

Media doesn’t talk much about internet sexual predators anymore, but the threat hasn’t lessened

Once over-hyped as lurking behind every online contact, then dismissed as statistically insignificant, child sexual predators constitute a very real threat to our youth, and they are constantly trolling for new victims.

I do not believe in fear mongering, and do not support those who would have you believe that dozens of sexual predators have singled out your child and are but a single mouse click away from harming them at this very moment.

Nor do I support those who want to stick their head in the sand and pretend that the sexual predation of minors online is a rarity – my own experiences with cases tells me otherwise. All youth are susceptible to sexual predation at some times; those who are particularly vulnerable are susceptible a great deal of the time.

This case against the teacher is a classic example of a known offender leveraging the internet for exploitation

The risk of a stranger meeting your child or teen online and grooming them for sexual exploitation is real. But a significant percentage of cases follow the pattern highlighted in this case where a sexual predator leverages the internet to build a secret relationship with a child or teen they already know. They’ve already identified their victim, but need a private ‘location’ to groom this child or teen for exploitation. The internet makes the perfect location for this type of predator because they can create an intimate private place without ever being seen near their future target.

This girl was fortunate to have a friend with enough sense to inform the school.

Protect your child from sexual exploitation in both physical and digital forms

  1.  Talk, and keep on talking to your children about appropriate and inappropriate conversations, pictures and touching. Start when kids are young, talk frequently, and make the conversation’s focus practical, not scary.
    1. Keep your perspective. Yes, there are sexual predators online, and yes they are trawling for targets, but they are not stalking every child every moment of the day or night. Only a fraction of youth will experience full blown solicitation, but all children should be forearmed.
    2. Warning kids about ‘creepy strangers’ is off target. Predators look like anyone else.
    3. Instead of saying don’t let strangers talk to you about, or touch you… (which implies it’s ok if others do), say no one – not mommy, not daddy, not brother, not uncle, not family friend, no one – is allowed to make you feel uncomfortable, talk to you about your body,  touch you in private places, or take photos of you undressed or barely dressed.
  2. Leverage Family Safety Tools, and do your own checking in.Depending on the age and maturity of your child/teen, use family safety settings and tools (also called parental controls) that are transparent (so your child knows what’s being monitored) that can help detect potentially at-risk communications.
    1. Though Facebook is the most popular social networking site, it isn’t the best site for young teens – and it does not allow access for users under 13.
    2. Instead use one of the social networking sites that was actually designed with safety as a core principle from the ground up. You want a site that uses moderators and screening as these vastly decrease the likelihood that your child will be solicited by a predator – whether that be a sexual predator, an emotional predator, a physical predator, or a reputational predator.
    3. Help tweens and teens understand that sending a sexual image of themselves to someone else can have far reaching consequences. There is a whole segment of the population beyond their boy/girlfriend who is very interested in seeing these pictures, touching the pictures, kissing the pictures, and masturbating to the pictures. Should their photo fall into the hands of a person interested in child pornography, it is likely to be traded and shared my thousands of times.
  3. Listen, and keep on listening to your children. Your kids won’t tell you about risks if you aren’t listening and being thoughtful.
    1. If you have a history of freaking out, taking away their internet access, etc. when they come to you about something, then you’ve taught them not to come to you. This increases their vulnerability as the very people they should be able to turn to have made themselves unusable.
    2. Build trust that you will be calm, listen, and find the right solution no matter what they bring to you.
  4. It is never the victim’s fault.  God-forbid that any child should be abused, but statistics say a percentage of kids will experience sexual exploitation instigated either online, or offline. It is never their fault. As with all sexual crimes, there is only one person at fault— the predator.
    1. Sexual acts with minors are illegal and exploitive, and as a society, everyone must be committed to protecting minors, even when they act against their own best interests. Yes, they might have done things that put them at greater risk, but they are the victim, not the abuser.
    2. Understand that sexual predators frequently try to make a child believe that the abuse was the child’s fault or something they wanted because if the child feels guilty or ashamed they will be much less likely to report it. Predators may say, “You wouldn’t have contacted me if you didn’t want it,” or “I only did this because I thought it was what you wanted.”
    3. If a parent or authority figure says to an abused child or teen something like “What were you thinking?” or “What was your part in this?” the child or teen may see that as siding with the predator. If the adult in any way reinforces the predator’s message of guilt, they remove the last shreds of hope from the child that they will be believed, nurtured, and protected by those they need support from the most.

For more information on how to protect kids and teens from online exploitation see my instructions for Protecting Kids.

If you believe a child is being abused, or know an child abuser, don’t hesitate. Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline 1-800-THE-LOST, use their website’s reporting tool or call your local law enforcement agency.
Learn more about the case against Ernest Ammons: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Prosecutors-Kent-coach-teacher-offered-girl-50-2400669.php#ixzz1gXrxzUL7

Learn more about child sexual exploitation and the internet:

Linda

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