Are your Children Safe on the Intarnet?
Don't Talk to Strangers!!!
Shannon could hear the footsteps behind her as she walked toward home. The
thought of being followed, made her heart beat faster. "You're being
silly," she told herself. "No one is following you." To be safe
she began to walk faster, but the footsteps kept up with her pace. She was
afraid to look back, and she was glad she was almost home. Shannon said a quick
prayer: "God, please get me home safe." She saw the porch light
burning and ran the rest of the way to her house.
Once Inside, she leaned against the door for a moment, relieved to be in the
safety of her home. She glanced out the window to see if anyone was there. The
sidewalk was empty.
After tossing her books on the sofa, she decided to grab a snack and get on
line. There she could talk to strangers without being afraid. After all, no one
knew who she really was and couldn't hurt her.
She logged on under her screen name 'ByAngel213'. Checking her Buddy List, she
saw GoTo123 was on. She sent him an instant message:
Hi I'm glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today. It was
LOL. You watch too much TV. Why would someone be following you? Don't you live
in a safe neighborhood?
Of course I do.... LOL.... I guess it was my imagination....cause I didn't see
anybody when I looked out.
Unless you gave your name out on line. You haven't done that have you?
Of course not. I'm not stupid you know.
Did you have a softball game after school today?
Yes and we WON!!!
That's great!! Who did you play?
We played the Hornets...LOL...Their uniforms are so gross! They look like
What's your team called?
We are the Canton Cats. We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They are really kewl.
Do you pitch or what?
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
Catch you later...Bye
GoTo123 decided it was time to teach Angel a lesson. One she would never forget.
He 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. She had just told him, he
knew she stayed by herself until 6:30 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 seventh 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.
"She'll be so surprised," he thought, "she doesn't even know what
she has done."
Shannon didn't tell her parents about the incident on the way home from the ball
park 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 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 back of the shirt. He knew he had found her. Quietly he
walked a safe distance behind her. He didn't want to frighten her and have to
explain what he was doing to anyone. 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 is a policeman and he has
just told us a most interesting story about you."
Shannon moved cautiously to a chair across from the man. 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 your on line 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 find 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 give out too much information to people on line. You told
me enough about yourself to make it easy for me to find you. Your name, 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 online. 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."
"I won't," Shannon promised solemnly.
"Will you tell others about this so they will be safe too?"
"It's a promise!"
That night Shannon and her dad and Mom all knelt down together and prayed. They
thanked God for protecting Shannon from what could have been a tragic situation.