Do Pedophiles Have a Cartoon Mascot? Or Do Police Not Have a Clue?
We all know bears are cute and cuddly, unless you happen to be getting mauled by one.
But fictional bears -- from Smokey to Paddington -- are all supposed to be safe, right?
Maybe not. Police are warning that the nation's pedophiles have come up with their own adorable cartoon bear. And this bear, like the pedophiles themselves, may hide a diabolical purpose.
Or police just might be clueless.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the bear, called Pedo Bear, is used as a sort of visual shorthand on the Internet to flag inappropriate content -- basically saying, "Stop being creepy about kids."
However, police officers across the country fear the bear is a de facto mascot for pedophiles.
Critics laugh. Would a group of criminals, who thrive on secrecy, really announce themselves with a cartoon mascot?
Deputies at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department think so. The Chronicle reports they issued a warning to the public about Pedo Bear. And KOTV, the CBS affiliate in Tulsa, Okla., reports police there did the same thing.
"His cute face and non-threatening appearance negate the truth of his sinister, much darker side," a news release from the Child Exploitation Unit of the Tulsa Police Department reads. "Pedo Bear is and should be associated with the Internet and pedophiles, sexually-preferential offenders who reportedly use him to communicate their interests in young children to each other."
Fears of Pedo Bear were further fueled when someone dressed up as the character during Comic-Con, the massive annual comic book convention held in San Diego, Calif., in July. The person was eventually thrown out.
The website Gawker, dedicated to media news and gossip, has been having a field day at police officers' expense.
"As much as it would make cops' jobs easier (and, judging from this episode, it needs to be as easy as possible for these idiots to get anything done), pedophiles have not collectively decided to brand themselves with a logo so we can easily identify them," reads the site's report of the incident.
Gawker editors report they have been contacted by the San Luis County deputies, who acknowledge Pedo Bear is little more than an Internet joke. However, deputies also sent the site their two-page, full-color Public Safety Information Bulletin detailing warnings about the character.
Related: 'I See You Have a Family Decal on Your Car. Now I Will Kidnap Your Kids!'
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.