Local News

Sep 13, 2010 9:40 PM by Danielle Lerner

Sheriff's Department stands by decision to warn community about Pedobear

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department is defending its decision to release a public safety information bulletin, warning the community about "Pedobear."

On Monday, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department acknowledged that Pedobear started out as an internet joke, intended to make fun of child molesters.

"The Pedobear symbol that initially came out meant something else and now it's kind of morphed into some other things," said Rob Bryn, a spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department. "There's some intelligence information indicating that it's being used by child molesters, whether that's true or not I can't speak to that directly."

KSBY News reported the warning last Thursday, after receiving the alarming bulletin.

The release originated in San Diego County, and said Pedobear "originated in Japan as a cartoon meme, known for his lecherous nature towards prepubescent children."

It goes on to say that Pedobear "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."

News of the sheriff's department's press release has sparked a flurry of online commentary. Much of it claims Pedobear is harmless black humor that does not warrant a warning to the public.

According to the web site knowyourmeme.com, "Usage of Pedobear may be seen by some as an unjust sterilization of the serious nature of child pornography, pedophilia, and rape. But to show anger toward Pedobear is to misunderstand Pedobear. It's not that Pedophiles identity one another by posting Pedobear. Pedobear is a mockery of pedophilia; something many Anons have worked together to fight."

"Anons" refers to a group of anonymous internet users.

Still, Bryn says the department's goal was to raise awareness about the meaning of the Pedobear character.

"The intent of us putting it out is to make people aware of what the symbol currently stands for in pop culture," said Bryn. "What it does do is have a tendency to desensitize people from a terrible crime, and also could cause victims of child molest, which most are not reported, to really be hurt."

We'll have more on this story tonight at 10 and 11.

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