After watching a couple of videos about real teen girls who were molested and murdered by people they thought were their online friends, I quickly became convinced that this special agents’ pleas for precautions were not just knee- jerk reactions to a few isolated incidents. There are thousands of guys out there who are just looking for the kind of young girls and/or guys who might be “good” targets. They are perversive. They are willing to wait for you to slowly divulge enough information about yourself that they can find you. They love to find kids who will divulge that they are having problems with their parents, grieving over someone who is sick or has died, or someone who is failing a class at school. When they find out what your struggles are, they immediately become empathetic; they are going through similar struggles and they slowly become a great shoulder to cry on. Over time, they develop a trust… they create a sort of secret place you can go online and share all of your problems. They gain your confidence enough that you slowly divulge enough information that they can find you.
At the end of the presentation, my friend gave some “Internet Nevers”. He has a thirteen year old daughter. (Thirteen year old girls are the number one targets of internet predators.) This is not just a list of restrictions that he passes out at seminars. These are things about which he is passionate as a Christian father. He sees the under-belly of the internet world every day. Here’s the list. Remember, if you are a minor, you are especially at risk!
- Never talk in chat rooms or on instant messenger or via facebook with people that you do not personally know face to face. (not someone you just have seen, or someone your friend knows, etc…)
- Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone you met online.
- Never give out identifying info about yourself including name, address, phone number, email address, school name, weather, school mascots, where you play sports, etc… Some of this seems a little crazy, but he gave actual cases where predators can put these clues together to track you.
- Never download pictures or files from an unknown source.
- Never respond to messages or postings that are obscene, belligerant, or offensive.
- Never pick a screen name that reveals anything about you (no dates, towns, names). Examples below:
Just remember, if you think it’s too much information for a predator to know, it’s too much information to post. Thanks for reading.