Hello out there my freaky furry friends! It’s time for another Inkedfur.com Furry Friday here on Lawyers & Liquor, as we continue the shitstorm stirred up last week in handling minors that may wander through your lives in a fursuit. Last time, while you cool cats and odious assholes sat on in horror, I talked a bit about romantic and sexual relationships, both on and off-line, for people that are below the age of 18, even if they’re over the age of consent in their home state. This time, though, we’re gonna skew to the innocent and start talking about what to do in social interactions with minors, online or otherwise, that aren’t at all sexual or romantic in nature.
So let’s all collectively strain at our leashes as we go for walkies through the dog park of Furry Friday: A Minor Problem, Part 2.
Kids Can Be A Problem.
I’m not telling you anything there that any parent doesn’t already know, but the fact that the furry fandom is predominantly young and online does create some legal issues, as we discussed last time. While the majority of the furry fandom, and the adults within it, have no interest in those that may be underage in a romantic or sexual manner, there’s always a few of those assholes in every group, right? And placing people who prey on children in a community that thrives on acceptance and fuzzy animals, and is mainly an “online” thing, means that there will be pedophiles in the audience at some point in time. While, as the Catholic Church has proven, this is not an exclusively furry problem, it does create a situation where we’re letting the fox into the henhouse, you know?
And because there are predators in the furry fandom, that means there’s a heightened risk that something innocent someone else is doing could result in heightened examination, legal accusations, and social ostracization. As we’ve seen from the motherfucking Twitter Brigade, the mere suggestion of impropriety can lead to an immediate and vitriolic reaction from hundreds of people all over the country or world, and rarely have I seen any of these reactions retracted. Fact is, guys, that once the accusation of child abuse or sexual interactions with a minor is out there, your guilt or innocence is meaningless. The dye, as they say, is already on the fursuit and it ain’t washing out.
Maybe it’s washing out.
I mean, I wouldn’t wash your fursuits in hot water with whites, just to be sure.
We just need to recognize that immediately and right off the bat: The very presence of kids in the furry fandom means there’s a risk of an accusation for fucking everyone that deals with them.
Should We Not Talk To Kids Ever?
I mean, that’s the safest course of action, but it’s not really a plausible one, is it? What are you going to do, locate every person under the age of 18 and form some sort of internet blocklist? Promote it on Twitter and shit so you effectively create two fandoms, one for the kids and one for the “grown ups”?
Plus, and importantly, it would take a certain degree of heartlessness to do that. Some of these kids are bullied at school and, yes, even at home, and the furry fandom is a place they can come to escape that and feel acceptance. To some degree, don’t the older and more responsible among you owe a duty to the puppies of the fandom to make sure they have folks they can reach out to or talk to? Should a fear overwhelm a desire to do good?
I’m a lawyer, and therefore lack a heart, so I’m going with “Yes.”
But you may not be, and you know that sometimes a younger fur may desperately need to know they’re okay and to hear it from older people. So let’s dispense with “cut them all out” and move on to solutions.
Take a Lesson From Scar.
Alright, as I’ve said in the past I sit on the board of a couple non-profits, at least one of which works heavily with children. This means everyone in my organization will at some point come in contact with a child and, due to the artistic purpose of the non-profit, could end up serving as mentor, parent figure, and counselor to the kids that come through our doors. As a result, we’re really fucking paranoid about how these interactions happen. Like amazingly paranoid. So, you know, we took a lesson from how the Boy Scouts handle this shit.
The Boy Scouts’ motto is, as you all know: “Be prepared.” This is a change from their old motto of “Be prepared to molest a child.” To that end, the Boy Scouts came up with a really fucking productive way to provide guidance, friendship, and mentoring to minors who, as we fucking remember from last time, is literally anyone under the age of 18 for our purposes. The way the Boy Scouts do it is to protect two parties at once: the child and the adult. The way? Nobody is ever fucking alone with a kid.
Always Have Another Adult Present.
This means that there’s fucking no such thing as one-on-one time with a minor. An adult should never be alone, in person or in digital communication, with a person under the age of 18. Forming a support group of responsible adults, for example, to be in a Telegram chat and help a kid is one thing. Having private message sessions with them, on the other, fucking is not okay. It’s not that anything will happen, but rather the mere suggestion that something inappropriate could happen, be it the adult taking advantage of the situation or the child turning around and saying they did. Hence, there is always another adult present (preferably a responsible adult) to monitor and report back on interactions with children, both to stop anything inappropriate and to be a witness for the other adult if shit goes wrong.
Pups and Kittens Need Friends.
Much like the odious wolf, minors in the fandom need to also turn themselves into pack animals, seeking out trustworthy friends of the same age (general rule of thumb is within two years) that they can speak to without reservation. The reason? The friend who isn’t a part of the communications or interactions with the adult may pick up on shit and report it if their buddy starts talking. Further, this provides the minor with a backstop of believability if shit does happen.
Stay Away From Sexual Topics.
Dudes. Dudettes. Others.
I get it. You guys are a very open community when it comes to talking about this shit and sexual education is a passion. Here’s the deal, though: parents have a recognized right in the United States to determine the course of their children’s education, and if you step in to provide sex education or discuss those issues with the kids, even academically, you’re taking a huge fucking risk. I agree, the state of sex education is fucking terrible in this country, and the kids need a bit of guidance here, but most parents aren’t going to read conversations about condoms and safe sex and say “Oh, that nice wolf-fox is just trying to make sure little Glitters is having safe, age appropriate sexual encounters with their peers.”
Their reaction is most likely going to be “WHY IS THIS GIANT DONKEY TRYING TO FUCK MY CHILD?”
I’m not saying you can’t take steps to educate kids, like…I dunno…posting a link to a safe sex guide for minors on your fucking website they can read at their own convenience. I’m just saying you personally shouldn’t be involved in those conversations with kids, and should actively avoid them whenever possible. The risk, much like sleeping with “Tammi” who dots her i’s with hearts, is too damn high.
No Sharing Rooms.
If they’re under the age of 18, they aren’t sharing a hotel room with you.
That’s just fucking asking for trouble.
Save Fucking Everything.
I mean everything. All online interactions and text messages should be saved. Phone calls should be noted. Chat logs downloaded. This shit can be exculpatory (innocence proving) evidence if and when shit goes pear-shaped, and in the hands of a decent lawyer can turn a conviction into a vindication.
Let’s Just Be Honest: It Sucks.
At the end of the day, there’s no way to completely protect yourself against accusations of impropriety short of throwing a con badge in the face of the minor and running away screaming “I didn’t touch them!” If you want to welcome and support young folks into the fandom, though, you need to be proactive in taking measures to document and protect yourself and them both. Never be alone, never allow the appearance of impropriety to come into the conversation, and remain vigilant as to the topics you’ll discuss.
And now all you kids who sent me messages asking if I’d be your friend know why I haven’t responded to you yet.
That’ll wrap it up for the InkedFur.com Furry Friday this month. Go check out the guys at InkedFur, who toss me a mere pittance for mentioning them once a month. They have a lot of neat shit.
…But, uh, only if you’re over 18, k?