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
ByAngel213: Hi I'm glad you are on! I
thought someone was following me home today. It was really weird!
GoTo123: LOL You watch too much TV. Why
would someone be following you? Don't you live in a safe neighborhood?
ByAngel213: Of course I do. LOL 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
GoTo123: Did you have a softball game after
ByAngel213: Yes and we won!!
GoTo123: That's great! Who did you play?
ByAngel213: We played the Hornets. LOL.
Their uniforms are so gross! They look like bees. LOL
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 me. Bye
GoTo123: Catch you later.. Bye
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
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.
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
Shannon moved cautiously to a chair across
from the man. How could he tell her parents anything? She had never seen him
"Do you know who I am Shannon?"
The man asked
"No", Shannon answered.
"I am a police officer and your online
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 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
"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 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
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