Two things are certain:
- There are sickos in this world.
- The world isn’t as sick as the people who look for sickos think it is.
First, the sicko.
In mid-August, the SevenAwesomeKids videos abruptly stopped posting. After several days of no new videos and no word from the channel, their website, or the kids themselves why not, I looked at the other channels affiliated with SAK (collectively known as the SAKs channels). None of them were posting either. General Web searches revealed no news.
Eventually, someone commented to the last posted video that the owner of the channels is in jail. For harassing 3 of the teenage girls on one of the other SAKs channels. Shit. Why can’t we have nice things?
And now the fishing expedition.
Upon hearing about the arrest, I had new search terms to work with. Skeptic as I am, I had to investigate. And what I found was ugly. The SAKs channels kept turning up on lists of pedophile channels on YouTube. One person who had it in for the channels said that the owner was using the channels as a vehicle for a pedophile ring. He cited some dark themes, such as the number of videos shot in the kids’ bedrooms, one particular video where the kid was duct taped to her bed (BDSM!), and even that “SAKs” sounded like “sex.” He even alleged that the perp had encouraged the girls to wear skimpy clothing. Personally, I’ve noticed that nearly all the kids on the SAKs channels are girls.
One thing that has amazed me about the Internet is how many people can see pictures or videos of kids, and immediately think “pedophiles!” Kids happen to spend a lot of time in their bedrooms. (Duh!) The duct tape video? I’d seen it, and there were absolutely no sexual connotations in the video. “SAKs”? You gotta be kidding me. I guess we’ll have to ban kids from saxophone lessons.
As for the skimpy clothing, I had figured that some of the kids hadn’t been fully indoctrinated into the prudery that adults frantically impose on them. Quite charming, if you ask me. But if it’s not the kids’ own initiative, but an adult pressuring them, well, that is just creepy and unacceptable. But not only was this guy short on evidence, I personally see no consistent pattern of skimpy dress on the channels! Some girls wore short pants some of the time, and oddly enough, they only did so when it was hot outside. There was also a pattern with the swimsuits: they only wore them when they went swimming. And to me, the death knell for this claim is the parents. What parent wouldn’t immediately pull the child and call law enforcement the moment they got wind of this? The channels would have been shut down years ago. As it is, there is no word about the perp’s 6 employees being arrested.
I think someone has posted an entire screed based on confirmation bias.
As for why nearly all the kids are girls: in the early years of the channels, the auditions were public, and approximately 98% of the applicants were girls. I looked at the boys’ auditions, and frankly, most of them were terrible. No conspiracy here.
I can see how pedophiles might rub themselves off on these videos. After all, kiddie porn doesn’t exactly show up in Google searches, and some pedophiles might not want to go through the trouble of ferreting out the real stuff only to put themselves at legal risk. But hypothetical pedophiles getting off on innocent kids’ videos in the privacy of their own homes does not constitute a civil emergency.
The worst scandal here actually has nothing to do with the SAKs owner: questions have been raised about The Google collecting information about kids watching the videos. Meh, just the typical age-old corporate sleaze. Hank Green has a channel geared towards children, and no one calls child exploitation over that channel. The allegations against the SAKs owner are horrendous, and if they are true, he should rot in jail for a long time after his fair trial. But I see nothing nefarious about the channels themselves.
Regrettably, though, for the millions of children who enjoyed the channels, it seems this chapter in life is closed.