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Monday, 29 October 2007

Online Kids


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:

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

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 cuz' 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
bees. LOL

What is your team called?

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

Did you pitch?

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

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

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. 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 thanked
God for protecting Shannon from what could have been a tragic situation.

*****NOW**** *

Please send this to as many people as you can to teach them not to give any
information about themselves. This world we live in today is too dangerous
to even give out your age, let alone anything else.


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