Internet Safety is probably one of the hardest subjects to cover
due to the complex nature of the Internet and the World Wide Web.
Things change so quickly on the Internet that by the time you
cover safety issues, the issue has changed.
However, one issue that will never change is the issue of children
talking to strangers on the Internet. Chat rooms are full of people
that pretend to be young just so they can talk to children and
possibly cause them harm. Your children need to learn that just
like in real world, they need to keep away from strangers.
The following story was sent to me via e-mail. It's a story that
all parents and children need to read.
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 let me get home
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
She logged on under her screen name ByAngel213. She checked her
Buddy List and saw that GoTo123 was on. She sent him an instant
ByAngel213: Hi I'm glad you are on! I thought someone was following
me home today. It was really weird!
GoTo123: You watch too much TV. Why would someone be following
you? Don't you live in a safe neighborhood?
ByAngel213: Of course I do. 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. Their uniforms are gross.
They look like bees.
GoTo123: What is your team called?
ByAngel213: We are the Canton Cats. We have tiger paws on our
uniforms. They are really kewl.
GoTo123: 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
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
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 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.
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 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 it was
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 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
"Do you know who I am Shannon?" The man asked.
"No," Shannon answered.
"I am a police officer and your on-line friend, GoTo123."
Shannon was stunned. "That's impossible! GoTo123 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 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."
"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.
Please tell as many people as you can to read this story to teach
them not to give out any information about themselves.