A WARNING FOR GIVING INFORMATION ON-LINE
- Please read this and pass it on to any kids you know who may spend time online ( on a computer on the Internet). Or adults for that matter! Something to think about…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 get home safely.” She saw the outside light was on 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 footpath was empty. After tossing her books on the lounge, she decided to grab a snack and get on line. There she could talk to strangers without being afraid. After all, none knew who she really was and couldn’t hurt her. She logged on under her screen name Angel21. Checking her Buddy List she saw Mickey was on. She sent him an instant message:
Angel21: Hi! I’m glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today. It was really weird! Mickey23: – – -. You watch too much TV. Why would someone be following you? Don’t you live in a safe neighbourhood?
Angel21: Of course I do. – – – I guess it was my imagination cause I didn’t see anybody when I
Mickey23: Unless you gave your name out on line. You haven’t done that have you?
Angel21: Of course not. I’m not stupid you know.
Mickey23: Did you have a softball game after school today?
Angel21: Yes and we won!!
Mickey23: That’s great! Who did you play?
Angel21: We played the Hornets – – -. Their uniforms are so gross! They look like bees. – – –
Mickey23: What is your team called?
Angel21: We are the Prospect Cats. We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They are really cool.
Mickey23: Do you pitch or what?
Angel21: 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
Mickey23: Catch you later.. Bye
Mickey23 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: NSW
Hobbies: softball, chorus, skating and going to the mall.
Besides this information, he knew she lived in Prospect. She had just told him. He knew she stayed by herself until 6:30pm 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 Prospect Cats. Her favourite number 7 was printed on her jumper. He knew she was in the eighth year at the Prospect 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 school 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 bench 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 streets to Shannon’s home and once he saw where she lived, he quickly returned to the school 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 McDonalds 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 school sitting on the lounge. “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, Mickey23.”
Shannon was stunned. “That’s impossible! Mickey is a kid my age! He’s 14 and he lives in Melbourne!”
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 jumper just made finding you a breeze.”
Shannon was stunned. “You mean you don’t live in Melbourne?”
He laughed. “No, I live in Sydney. 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 hurt 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!”
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.
Help keep kids safe.