[BIG QUESTION] What Would You Do If Your Son Threatened To Rape Someone?

Alanah Pearce, a journalist, and a game reviewer from Brisbane, Australia, has been the victim of abuse on the Internet. To tackle and highlight this troubling issue, she has used an unusually effective tactic. What is it? Read to find out...

Cover image via SAYS/BBC/Alanah

Meet Alanah Pierce, a 21-year-old student and a video games journalist from Australia. She reviews for Australian radio stations and television. Chances are, before today, you might not have heard of her, but she is pretty famous on the web.

Alanah Pierce cosplaying as 'Lady Nathan Drake'

Image via Alanah 'Charalanahzard' Pearce

Recently, this popular YouTuber has been in the midst of flurry of vile and disturbing online messages — including several threats of sexual assault. As The Guardian reports:

"A while ago, I realised that a lot of the people who send disgusting or overly sexual comments to me over the internet aren't adult males," said Pearce from her company’s Brisbane base.

The journalist had assumed her abusers were middle-aged men.

"It turns out that mostly they're young boys and the problem is they don't know any better, so responding to them rationally didn't resolve the situation. And it got to the point where their comments were starting to make me feel really uncomfortable."

She was so shocked by the nature of the abusive messages she has been getting that she's decided to do something about it

"As soon as I started reviewing games in the public eye... I immediately started getting comments that were to do with sexual harassment. Strangers being very specific about things they'd like to do to me, which is really not very nice to read. I had a couple of rape threats as well."

She admits that the negative stuff only accounts for around 1% of the comments she receives, but feels she can't just leave it.

"It just got to a point where I was sick of ignoring this stuff and letting these people win."

She complained to a higher authority: Their mothers

When Pearce sat down to figure out the best way to resolve the situation, she concluded she was best off contacting the boys’ mothers directly, “especially as most of them write to me through their personal Facebook pages. It’s shockingly easy to find out who their families are.”

She wrote to four women and told them what their sons were up to. For proof, she included the original tweets sent by their sons. Eventually, one of them got back to her. This one:

The mother responded in exactly the way Alanah wanted her to

“The fact she called him a little shit I found funny as well because I thought that but I wasn't going to say anything.”

Pearce adds: “I wasn't going to post it on Twitter [either] but I was just so excited. And I thought some of my friends would find it amusing.”

“It was just a way to try to reach a resolution, to productively teach young boys it’s not okay to be sexist to women, even if they’re on the internet,” she says, “that they are real people and that there should be actual consequences for that.”

As BBC reports, this particular mother was so shocked that she forced her son to make a personal apology to Alanah

"She has gotten him to handwrite me a letter and she's also spoken to other parents in the community."

If that's not embarrassing enough, the boy's mum has got his school involved.

"She is going to the school to talk about online harassment and bullying and trying to make other parents more aware of what their kids are saying online."

She says she'll keep contacting the families and perhaps even schools of the boys who leave threatening messages

Alanah Pearce

Image via

Parents need to remind kids that the things they say online can and do have real world consequences, and everything can be recorded, she added.

“I think the biggest issue with children effectively being 'raised' by social media is that they don't realize the people they talk to are real people,” Pearce said.

“Every time this happens to me, I will do this. I won’t necessarily post it on Twitter, but I will definitely continue doing it.”

She sees hope on the horizon. “I’ve grown up in gaming culture, and in the last five years I’ve seen this massive shift, which is awesome. It’s great to have more women in the industry and to encourage more women by telling them it’s not this horrible place.”

Meanwhile, Alanah has been fighting the sick online trolls for a while now. Back in 2013, she even wrote a blog for the gaming site Kotaku Australia, entitled '30 Days of Sexism', cataloguing every time a person made a sexist comment towards her.

Image via @charalanahzard

In what now reads like a lo-fi version of the viral video 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, Pearce responded to one commentator who praised her for not wearing low-cut tops on YouTube, suggesting his seemingly “nice” comment was “inherently sexist”.

“Some women may exploit their sexuality for views but others do it for comfort, or because they didn’t want to change their clothing,’ she wrote. “There is no logical reason to assume that any woman has changed her apparel to appeal to you.”

"It’s demoralising, it’s discouraging, it takes the work you’re proud of and tells you it’s worth absolutely nothing more than the sexual value that is tied to your gender," Pearce wrote at the time. "These kind of extremely invasive and excessively vulgar comments are physically sickening."

So, as reported above, while one of the mother has done the right thing, what would you do if you find out that your son has threatened to rape someone? Let us know in the comment box or write to us at [email protected]

You should also read these SAYS stories of how these two women are fighting off their harassers and abusers

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