Sunday, June 24, 2007

Something to Tell Your Kids

I don't know if this is an Urban Legend, or if it is true. I received this today via email and thought that I would share...just in case. I took the time to go over this with both Ten and Twelve...(Twelve was quite surprised at how easy it really is to give information away without realizing it). Not to make anyone paranoid...

After tossing her books on the sofa, she decided to grab a snack and get on-line. She logged on under her screen name ByAngel213. She checked her Buddy List and saw GoTo123 was on. She sent him an instant message:

ByAngel213:Hi. I'm glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today. It was really weird!

GoTo123:LOL You watch too much TV. Why would someone be following you?Don't you live in a safe neighborhood?

ByAngel213:Of course I do. LOL I guess it was my imagination cuz' I didn't see anybody when I looked out.

GoTo123:Unless you gave your name out on-line. You haven't done that have you?

ByAngel213:Of course not. I'm not stupid you know.

GoTo123:Did you have a softball game after school today?

ByAngel213:Yes and we won!!

GoTo123:That's great! Who did you play?

ByAngel213:We played the Hornets. LOL. Their uniforms are so gross! They look like bees. LOL

GoTo123:What is your team called?

ByAngel213:We are the Canton Cats. We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They are really cool.

GoTo1 23:Did you pitch?

ByAngel213:No I play second base. I got to go. My homework has to be done before my parents get home. I don't want them mad at me. Bye!

GoTo123:Catch you later. Bye

Meanwhile.......GoTo123 went to the member menu and began to search for her profile. When it came up,he highlighted it and printed it out. He took out a pen and began to write down what he knew about Angel so far.
Her name: Shannon
Birthday: Jan. 3, 1985
Age: 13
State where she lived: North Carolina
Hobbies: softball, chorus, skating and going to the mall. Besides this information, he knew she lived in Canton because she had just told him. He knew she stayed by herself until 6:30 p.m. every afternoon until her parents came home from work. He knew she played softball on Thursday afternoons on the school team, and the team was named the Canton Cats. Her favorite number 7 was printed on her jersey. He knew she was in the eighth grade at the Canton Junior High School . She had told him all this in the conversations they had on- line. He had enough information to find her now.

Shannon didn't tell her parents about the incident on the way home from the ballpark that day. She didn't want them to make a scene and stop her from walking home from the softball games. Parents were always overreacting and hers were the worst. It made her wish she was not an only child. Maybe if she had brothers and sisters, her parents wouldn't be so overprotective.

By Thursday, Shannon had forgotten about the footsteps following her. Her game was in full swing when suddenly she felt someone staring at her. It was then that the memory came back. She glanced up from her second base position to see a man watching her closely. He was leaning against the fence behind first base and he smiled when she looked at him. He didn't look scary and she quickly dismissed the sudden fear she had felt.After the game, he sat on a bleacher while she talked to the coach. She noticed his smile once again as she walked past him. He nodded and she smiled back. He noticed her name on the back of her shirt. He knew he had found her. Quietly, he walked a safe distance behind her. It was only a few blocks to Shannon's home, and once he saw where she lived he quickly returned to the park to get his car.

Now he had to wait. He decided to get a bite to eat until the time came to go to Shannon's house. He drove to a fast food restaurant and sat there until time to make his move. Shannon was in her room later that evening when she heard voices in the living room.

"Shannon, come here," her father called. He sounded upset and she couldn't imagine why. She went into the room to see the man from the ballpark sitting on the sofa.

"Sit down," her father began, "this man has just told us a most interesting story about you." Shannon sat back. How could he tell her parents anything? She had never seen him before today!

"Do you know who I am, Shannon ?" the man asked.

"No," Shannon answered.

"I am a police officer and your online friend, GoTo123."

Shannon was stunned.

"That's impossible! GoTo is a kid my age! He's 14. And he lives in Michigan!"

The man smiled. "I know I told you all that, but it wasn't true. You see, Shannon, there are people on-line who pretend to be kids; I was one of them. But while others do it to injure kids and hurt them, I belong to a group of parents who do it to protect kids from predators. I came here to find you to teach you how dangerous it is to talk to people on-line. You told me enough about yourself to make it easy for me to find you. You named the school you went to, the name of your ball team and the position you played. The number and name on your jersey just made finding you a breeze."

Shannon was stunned. "You mean you don't live in Michigan ?"

He laughed. "No, I live in Raleigh . It made you feel safe to think I was so far away, didn't it?"

She nodded.

"I had a friend whose daughter was like you. Only she wasn't as lucky. The guy found her and murdered her while she was home alone. Kids are taught not to tell anyone when they are alone, yet they do it all the time on-line. The wrong people trick you into giving out information a little here and there on-line. Before you know it, you have told them enough for them to find you without even realizing you have done it. I hope you've learned a lesson from this and won't do it again.


Patti said...

This is scary stuff, Lynn. I am glad you shared this with Ten and Twelve.
I'm hoping mine are old enough now to handle such things online; they both use the computer a lot.

aspiemom said...

It may be an urban legend but if it makes the point and scares my kids, hey-it's done the job.

I LOVE the title-I can so relate.

Thanks much for stopping by!

Renee said...

Sad part is, you can pound this into your kids head and they'll think "Oh that will never happen to me." But it does happen all the time.

Which reminds me, I need to pound it into my kid's head again. She didn't tell me she was talking to kids online at American Girl dot com. *eyeroll*

Michele said...

Wow, that's scary stuff but so true. I see articles about this online stalking with young children and it just frightens the hell out of me. More people need to teach their children that the internet is not a nice place. Excellent post Lynn. Good job!!

patches said...

All technology is capable of being an instrument of evil...Good lesson in this.

Lynn said...

Patti - Even adults need to be careful. We just never know.

Aspiemom - Unfortunately sometimes we do have to scare our kids.

Renee - It amazes me how many of those 'kid' websites allow for kids to chat with each other. It drives me nuts when Ten and Twelve are online.

Michele - Thanks. If it helps just one person (child or adult) be more aware, then it is worth it.

Patches - It's a scary world out there.

sari said...

You know, I visit a few websites where the moms have every known picture on Earth of their kids...and what softball team they're on, and what camp they go to, and all of their friends. I won't list them on my blogroll because even though I read them, I don't think that's safe. Someone could easily find their children and take them.

It is scary out there! Everyone needs to just be aware even as adults.

Lynn said...

Sari - I agree. It worries me when I see so many pics of kids on people's web sites. Not that I'm not interested in their family, I just worry from a safety point of view.