‘Undercover Underage’: Who is Roo Powell?

Investigation Discovery will air a new series, Undercover Underage. The show is currently airing on discovery+. But those who don’t have the premium subscription service can watch the series beginning on Feb. 24. The host of the show is a woman by the name of Roo Powell. She is new to television, so we decided to do a deep dive into who she is, and why she’s doing the show.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Undercover Underage, set to air on Investigation Discovery.]

Undercover Underage logo on discovery+
‘Undercover Underage’ | Discovery Press Room

‘Undercover Underage’ features Powell posing as a teen to catch predators

The premise of Undercover Underage is a very simple one. Roo Powell works with a dedicated team to “transform” into a teenager online. She does this through a series of social media profiles and photos. Powell and her team work together with law enforcement to expose, and trap, adults who prey on children.

Undercover Underage host Roo Powell, pictured here in a pink shirt
‘Undercover Underage’ host Roo Powell | Discovery Press Room

“Every adult that contacts the teenage decoys is explicitly told from the outset that they are speaking to an underage girl, and are given the opportunity to cease communication at any point,” reads the show’s official press release. “It’s a good scenario when someone disengages immediately after discovering they’re interacting with a teen, but all too often, the situation escalates almost immediately when the person responds with a graphic photo or request. For those who choose to proceed with explicit exchanges with a supposed minor, the team mobilizes to put a name to the offender. Many are operating under their own fake identity, which makes finding a true identification tricky and complicated. Once the team at SOSA has enough information for positive identification, they turn over their findings to law enforcement.”

Who is Roo Powell?

Born in Hong Kong to British publishing magnate Gareth Powell, Roo Powell is the host of Undercover Underage. Her brother, Sian, is also a journalist. And she has three other brothers: David, Tom, and Ben.

At first, it seemed like Powell would follow in her family’s footsteps. From 2013 to 2019, she wrote for AdWeek. But then, she founded SOSA (Safe from Online Sex Abuse). According to the organization’s official website, the focus is on identifying and preventing online sexual abuse.

“Through free resources such as webinars, workshops, and school presentations, SOSA provides compassion-led education to young people, as well as caretakers and other responsible adults to help the community stay proactive when it comes to the safety of minors,” they explain.

Some of the predators will surprise you

According to the official press release for Undercover Underage, the true identity of predators can be pretty shocking for the viewer. Some of the predators are school employees. Others are high-profile community figures, who hold a lot of power in their respective communities.

A scene from Undercover Underage
Powell works together with her teammate, Matt, to expose predators | Discovery Press Room

“I hope Undercover Underage will not only educate people about the dangers of communicating with strangers online but also aid in empowering a society to tackle this issue,” Powell said to Forbes. “I think combating sex abuse and exploitation really starts with awareness. This is uncharted territory for so many of us. We (anyone my age) didn’t grow up with smartphones in our hands, but our kids are.”

How to get help: If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 for free and confidential support.

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