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Chris Hansen Heard Whispers About Nickelodeon and Dan Schneider for Years | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


For decades Chris Hansen has been hunting child predators, and during an interview with Newsweek, he said he’d heard whispers years ago about the alleged child sexual abuse happening at Nickelodeon.

The Investigation Discovery channel recently aired the docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, which documents the child sexual abuse committed by assistant Jason Handy, dialogue coach Brian Peck, and studio freelancer Ezel Channel and discusses the alleged abusive and misogynistic behavior of showrunner Dan Schneider.

Several former child stars have spoken out against Nickelodeon and said they experienced sexual assault and harassment while working for the channel. Now, Hansen has said the alleged abuse that was taking place at Nickelodeon was on his radar back in 2006.

That year, a Nickelodeon employee appeared on an episode of To Catch a Predator, which Hansen hosted. The series followed Hansen as he confronted adult men arriving at houses to have sex with someone they believed was a minor—and typically being arrested in sting operations as a result.

“This particular sting was back in 2006 I believe, when the videotape editor Justin Smith from Nickelodeon showed up, and you know, a lot of us in the investigative reporting world had been hearing about Nickelodeon and Dan Schneider for years now,” he told Newsweek.

A composite image of television host Chris Hansen in New York on May 9, 2017, and the Nickelodeon logo. Hansen has weighed in on the allegations of sexual abuse that are being made by former…


Mireya Acierto/Tasos Katopodis/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Smith, then a 27-year-old freelance postproduction editor for Nickelodeon, was a suspected predator in the Long Beach, California, edition of To Catch a Predator. During the episode, Hansen alleged that Smith used the username “residentsmith” to correspond online with a decoy named Carly, who he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

When talking to Carly online, Smith made concerning statements and engaged in grooming behavior, the program reported. This took place during his employment at the children’s channel.

Newsweek emailed a spokesperson for Nickelodeon and Schneider for comment.

“Now [Schneider] is apologizing, and I think it’s causing—and should cause—a reexamination of, you know, how adults act around children,” Hansen said.

He continued: “You have these situations where you’ve got a vulnerable set of people who are, in some cases, under supervised and are having close relationships with adults. There needs to be rules.

“And you would think that most of this would be common sense, but when there’s no rules there, nobody overseeing this or monitoring it, there’s obviously the potential for inappropriate behavior and abuse.

“I think we see that on the internet, which is so ubiquitous and so ungovernable in so many ways—that there’s opportunity. And if you allow too much ungoverned opportunity, you’re going to see the potential for exploitation. I think that’s what we see in the Nickelodeon situation.”

For 20 years, the journalist has been investigating adults who try to communicate with children online in hopes of meeting them in real life for predatory purposes. He said the way predators go about contacting children has changed over the years.

Hansen said that when he first started, he and his team would trawl through chat rooms on AOL, Yahoo and Myspace, but things have become more complicated.

Takedown with Chris Hansen
A promotional image of Hansen’s new TruBlu show, “Takedown With Chris Hansen.” Over the past two decades, Hansen’s investigations have led to hundreds of would-be sex offenders being stopped in their tracks.

TruBlu

“The number of social media platforms upon which adults can approach children has literally exploded, with more devices, increased access, and [they’re] more difficult to detect, track and stop because it’s so diffused now,” he said.

Hansen continued: “You have to look in many different areas. You have to be as clever as the predators. The crime is not going away. It’s only become more prevalent. So as a part of our repertoire of work as crime reporters, I’ve taken this on as part of my job, my brand, my mission, to continue to create this awareness and dialogue that I think is so critical, especially between parents and adults.

“Law enforcement can’t be everywhere. When you talk about other crimes—like sextortion, which is an epidemic in our country, and we’ve got a big documentary coming out on that—it’s really about, ‘What is your first line of defense? How do you best protect children?’

“In my opinion, based upon all my years of doing these stories, [the best way to protect children] is with this relationship between the parent and the child. So I think by doing these stories and continuing to do them, we continue to reach out and encourage that relationship.”

To Catch a Predator ended in 2007, but Hansen continued his mission to protect children after the show’s cancellation. In 2022, his series Takedown With Chris Hansen launched on the streaming service TruBlu. In it, he continues to investigate and work with law enforcement to catch predators.

Hansen said he was aware of a sense of dark humor in his TV shows and that he knew his audience loved seeing him come face-to-face with predators. He added that while he and his crew made the confrontations as safe as possible, there was still “an element of unpredictability” that had created a loyal viewership to the investigations.

“There’s a dark humorous part of all of this too, and you can’t deny that. I think because I acknowledge all of that when I do these stories, when I go on these investigations, I think it’s become very fascinating for people who will start to watch them, and then they look forward to the next one for a lot of different reasons,” he said.

Hansen added, “I think at the end of the day, if the result is to create awareness and continue to encourage a dialogue, then we have done our jobs.”

Takedown With Chris Hansen can be watched on the streaming service TruBlu.