The Ultimate Evil

A Child Abuse Awareness Blog

Stalking Children – There’s An App For That

How many parents have smart phones and other mobile devices which contain apps their children play? How many children have iPods, iPads, iPhones, or other such devices that allow game applications using wifi or any form of connection to social interactions?

Are children safe using those Free or .99 app downloads? They download onto the device with a sweet little icon of a silly bird or pretty princess or some cartoon character that is a must-have for a young fan.

What could possibly be harmful about a game on a mobile device?

You’ve taken all the necessary precautions. Your child isn’t allowed to have Yahoo! messenger, Facebook, or any other social chat application, and they aren’t allowed to use the phone function. Perhaps they have a smart phone that is not connected for phone use, but the Wi-Fi works just fine so they can play their cool little games.

Well, what a lot of parents don’t know is that many of these seemingly harmless game apps contain in-game chat features. Game app hosts, such as Game Center, are even now demanding users agree to a new policy that allows everyone you are connected to in your game apps under their provider be sent your personal information — i.e. real name and location used in your iTunes billing. Game apps are more intrusive than they once were, and children are becoming easier targets than ever.

In addition to game apps with chat, there are various chat apps that range from free to costing several dollars. The most dangerous for children are the ones that ensure secrecy, such as TigerText. Some of these apps even have a disguised icon and can be hidden on the device. This is why parents should always, always check their accounts associated with the device their child uses. These accounts will list all downloads, including free ones. Examine all apps before allowing your child to use them by reading the description as well as user reviews.

This is an example of TigerText from an Android website:

It’s quite frightening when you think this could be a conversation between an 11 year old girl and a 30 year old man. “Erin” could very well be that 30 year old man. It doesn’t take much to steal photos and names with personal details from sites like flikr, Photobucket, and Facebook.

I received a private comment a few days ago by a terrified mom. She discovered her daughter had been in communications with an identity thief who had convinced her to divulge all of the family’s personal information, such as siblings’ names, parents’ names, birthdays, locations, and other private matters. This all took place through the chat feature of a game her daughter played on an iPhone with its phone service disabled.

It was bad enough to discover this grown man’s interactions with her very young daughter.  After seeking help from law enforcement, the mother learned this man had stolen the identity of a dead military man.

Perhaps this man isn’t a sexual predator. Perhaps he wasn’t seeking to do her daughter or other children physical harm.  This man is none-the-less an identity thief, one who could be using the open honesty of children to gather information to steal and sell private information to other identity thieves.

This mom and any parent in this situation has a right and a reason to be scared and angry. What they should not feel is hopeless. Unfortunately, the man committed no crime against this family by merely speaking to the girl, so the mother cannot receive official help as of yet. However, she is anything but helpless and this situation, though frightening and grim, is anything but hopeless.

This was my public response to her unpublished comment, relevant paragraphs only, to pass on my personal advice within this article:

Dear Devastated Parent:

[…]I need to first tell you that I am not an employee of any branch of law enforcement, nor am I qualified to give out legal advice. I am a volunteer who has worked side by side with LE.

That being said, I AM a parent and a concerned citizen and have every right to advise you on those terms.

If you still have access to chat messages and anything at all passed between them, take screen shots of them all. Do you know how to do that? Press the Home button at the bottom of the flat screen and the power button at the same time while on the page you wish to “photograph”.

Anything that was passed between them via chat can sometimes be saved to a file. I’m not sure what game this was or if it has the feature to save chats. Check it out.

It doesn’t matter if anyone tells you that you cannot be helped under whatever circumstance they give. Gathering the information in one nice neat pile as soon as possible and as it happens when possible will help when action is finally able to be taken (if it is needed).

Make sure any law enforcement officer you speak with gives you a case #. If they don’t provide you with one, tell them you want a file started on this immediately and you want the case number. In my experience, if you ask, they must open a file for you and add to it anytime you call them with another bit of information. I don’t know if this is true in all states, but it has been in ones I have been a part of. This way, there is an official jacket in the event this person tries to contact your child or your family. It adds up and shows a pattern they cannot deny in court.

As for safety concerns, I completely understand your fear. Do you still have access to the account? Did you or your daughter send this person a final message?

This is what I would do: I would send the person a message and inform them that the police have been made aware of their activity. I would tell them the police have screen shots and copies of everything, and that there is a report on file. Tell the person you have saved everything and are prepared to turn over the device and access to your account for the police to find them should they continue to try and contact your child or anyone in your family. (And yes, the FBI can do this if it comes down to it, and the FBI CAN and WILL become involved if this is occurring across state lines. Even inside the same state if necessary.). Tell them in no uncertain terms that they are never to contact your child again. Then leave it at that. Remove them from any account she has. If they try to be re-added, send that into the police for the file, as well. It goes to show contact/stalking of a minor against the parent’s wishes. Make sure you save a copy or a screen shot of the message you send the person. Don’t let your child back into the app, but you monitor it, yourself, to see if they try to contact her again.

[…]

PS: Also, iTunes has a Terms of Service area. Read through it and see if this person violated anything. Contact iTunes and tell them of this person, too, and provide them the username associated with the game. I’m not sure what they can do, if anything, but again, you will have a report out there about this person. And iTunes will now have a report about this person in the event they do it again. Quite possibly, this person has been reported to iTunes already. This could be cause for iTunes to contact the FBI or some other agency that can stop this person. You can call the iTunes office, as well, and inquire about what you can do and what they can do to better protect kids from this person.

[…]

After leaving this comment, I went in search of various ways parents can better monitor their children’s activities on their mobile devices.  We cannot stop the predators from their attempts to reach our children in these ways, but we have all the power on our end to stop them from succeeding. Short of not giving a child such a device to begin with, there are other ways to monitor what they do and with whom they communicate.

MobiStealth – Parental Control and Monitoring Software    The information for this says it is for Android, but I found that it can be purchased for most mobile phones. There are several separate features that can be purchased, as well, which include but are not restricted to tracking text messages and phone calls, location of the device, web and picture history, and reverse look-up for unfamiliar numbers that have called the device.

Mobile-Spy Software for Smartphones    This does the same as above but seems to be compatible with more devices.

Spy Phone Apps   This is a website that lists several other choices in mobile monitoring technology.

(I do want to mention that it appears there are other reasons someone may want to install such software into a mobile device, some possibly nefarious. I was somewhat shocked at the capabilities of these items, and it compels me to post this warning to all readers that although these can be useful tools in protecting children and keeping ones personal property safe, they can, also, be used to spy on innocent adults and even victims of domestic violence. I am quite sure stalkers can put this to good use, as well, especially boyfriends and girlfriends in teen dating abuse situations.)

In the event you feel this is invading a child’s personal space and in some way showing them you don’t trust them, and this somehow bothers you, you need to remember they are children. There should never be an issue of invasion of privacy when ensuring your child’s safety. The relationship between a parent and a child is one of protector and protected, defender and defended. We are parents first before anything else, and friend only after our parental duties are met. If you have a problem distinguishing this, you should visit your local police department and view the hundreds of files of juvenile cases, both victim and perpetrator, stemming from parental neglect. And make no mistake. Refusing to do everything you can to protect your child from the very real dangers we know are in this world is neglect.

We cannot protect our children from everything, but we don’t have to make it easy for predators, either. These people go for easy targets first and tend to pass up those with attentive and safety-conscious parents and care-givers. Don’t let your child be an easy target by leaving the window wide open. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and hand them the keys to your house. Don’t hand a predator the key to your child.

(Among others, I am tagging this article under Grooming Techniques because game chat is a popular new way of grooming children.)

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Dangerous Trends, Grooming Techniques, Internet Safety, Sexting, What Makes a child a Target | Leave a comment

Sexting/Texting/Instant Messaging Codes

***NOTE***

I have found this article copied and pasted on other sites around the net that have not taken the proper precautions in delivering awareness. I compiled this list from various reliable sources with an informative disclaimer that adults also use these codes when speaking with other adults, all consenting.

While this article serves to educate the public on texting codes and symbols for their own benefit, especially parents seeking to protect their children from predators and dangerous peers, using it out of context damages the reputation of child abuse awareness volunteers.

While I would appreciate credit for this article should you choose to use it, the most important thing is that it is not used as a scare tactic by fanatics who see a boogie man behind every corner.

If you see this article on a site that doesn’t appear to handle awareness professionally or with a degree of experience, note that I more than likely have no idea it was copied and I did not consent to its use.  I do NOT endorse any site other than those I have posted in my “Support” tab or explicitly name in articles I have written.

***************************************

I’ve been coming across messages and searches of my site for “Sexting codes” and “what do text symbols mean?”. I’d like to now accommodate parents, teachers, guardians, and even kids who are approached by symbols they don’t know with some of the more popular codes and more dangerous ones to look out for.

Below are the codes I feel are the most important to know for safety, the ones in red are warning signs of sexual behavior/predator involvement.

For a more comprehensive look, please see Webopedia , Netlingo, Advanced Codes list, Text messaging and E-mail shorthand, and Business text messaging shorthand.

*Please note that some of the codes on the sites listed refer to gaming platforms.

^5 = High Five
121 = One to one
143 = I love you
182 = I hate you
2moro = Tomorrow
2nite = Tonight

411 = Information
420 = Marijuana
459 = I love you
4NR = Foreigner
4Q = Fuck you
8 = oral sex

86 = Get rid of
9 = Parent is watching
99 = Parent is no longer watching

A3 = Anyplace, anytime anywhere
AAF = As A Friend
ACORN = A Completely Obsessive Really Nutty Person
ADR = Address
AEAP = As Early As Possible
AFAP = As Far As Possible

AIGHT = Allright
AITR = Adult In The Room
AMAP = As Much As Possible

AML = All My Love

AMRMTYFTS = All my roommates thank you for the show
A/S/L – age, sex, location

B4N = Bye for now
banana = Penis
BF = Boyfriend

BFF = Best friend forever
BITCH = Basically in the clear homey
BJ = Blow job
BOB = Battery Operated Boyfriend

BZ = Busy
BRB = Be right back
BTW = Back to work

CICYHW = Can I copy your homework
CM = Call me
C-P = Sleepy
C/S = Change subject
COS = Change of subject
CBJ = Covered blow job
CD9 = Code 9, parents are around

CRB = Come right back
CRBT = Crying really big tears
CT = Can’t talk
CTC = Care to chat?
CU = See you
CUL8R = See you later
CUNS = See you in school
CUOL = See you online
CYE = Check your e-mail
CYO = See you online
CYT = See you tomorrow

DF = Dear friend
DGA = Don’t go anywhere
DH = Dear husband
DW = Dear wife

DIKU = Do I know you?

DL = Down Low (texts) Download (in context of attachments)

DLTM = Don’t lie to me
DNBL8 = Do not be late

DOC = Drug of choice
DOE = Depends on experience

DP = Domestic partner

DUM = Do you masturbate?

DURS = Damn you are sexy

DUSL = Do you scream loud?

DWB = Don’t write back

DWPKOTL = Deep wet passionate kiss on the lips

DYHAB = Do you have a boyfriend
DYHAG = Do you have a girlfriend

EMA = E-mail address
EML = E-mail me later
EMSG = E-mail message

F2F = Face to face
FAB = Features Attributes Benefits

FB = Fuck buddy
FILF = Father I’d like to fuck
FMLTWIA = Fuck me like the whore I am
FMUTA = Fuck me up the ass
FOAF = Friend of a friend
FTF = Face to face
FWB = Friends with benefits

FYF = From your friend

GTG = Got to go
G2G = Got to go
GAP = Got a pic? (pic = picture)
GBH = Great Big Hug
GF = Girlfriend
GLBT = Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender

GLG = Good looking girl

GLB = Good looking boy

GNOC = Get naked on cam

GOS = Gay or straight

GUD = Geographically undesirable

GYPO – get your pants off

H&K = Hugs and kisses
H4Y = Hot for you
HBIB = Hot but inappropriate boy

I&I = Intercourse and Inebriation
IBTC = Itty bitty titty committee
IDK = I don’t know
IF/IB = In the front or in the back
IIT = Is it tight?
ILF/MD = I love female/male dominance
ILU = I love you
ILY = I love you
IRL = In real life
IWSN – i want sex now

ITS – intense text sex

IWALU = I will always love you

J/O = Jacking off

KFU = kisses for you
KFY = Kiss for you

K4Y = Kiss for you

kitty = Vagina
KK = Kiss kiss

KOTC = Kiss on the cheek

KOTL = Kiss on the lips
KPC – keep parents clueless

KWSTA = Kiss with serious tongue action

L8R = Later
LB? = Like bondage?
LDR = Long distance relationship
LF = Let’s fuck (pedophile lingo would be Little Friend)
LHOS – Let’s have online sex

LHSO = Let’s have sex online

LKITR = Little kid in the room

LOL = Laugh out loud/lots of laughs/lots of love
LMAO = Laugh my ass off
LMFAO = Laugh my f*cking ass off
LMIRL – Let’s meet in real life
LTTIC = Look the teacher is coming

LUSM = Love you so much

LY = Love you
LY4E = Love you forever
LYWAMH = Love you with all my heart

MA = Mature audience
MILF = Mother I’d like to fuck
MIRL = Meet in real life
MorF = Male or Female
MOOS = Member of opposite sex

MOSS = Member of same sex

MOS = Mom over shoulder

MPFB = My personal fuck buddy

MSNUW = Mini-skirt no underwear

MTLA = My true love always

MUAH or MWAH = *it’s the sound of a kiss*

MUSM = Miss you so much

NP = Nosy parents
N/T = No text
NIFOC = Nude in front of computer

NRN = No reply necessary

OLL = Online love
OMG = Oh my god
OMFG = Oh my fucking god

P = Partner
P&C = Private and confidential
POS = Parents over shoulder

PIR = Parents in room

P911 = Parent alert

PA = Parent alert

PAW = Parents are watching

PAL = Parents are listening

PBB = Parent behind back

PHAT = Pretty hot and tempting
PLOS = Parent looking over shoulder

POM = Parent over my shoulder

PRON = Porn

pr0n = Porn (with a number 0 for O)

PRW = Parents are watching

QT = Cutie Q2C = Quick to cum

RL = Real life
RLF = Real life friend
RNN = Reply not necessary
ROFL = Roll on floor laughing
ROTFL = Roll on the floor laughing
ROFLMAO = Roll on floor laughing my ass off
RPG = Role playing games
RU? = Are you?
RU/18 = Are you over 18?

STFU = Shut the fuck up

TTYL = Talk to you later
TTFN = Tata for now
TAW = Teachers are watching
TDTM = Talk dirty to me
TM = Trust Me
TMI = Too much information
TT = Big tease
TYVM = Thank you very much

U = You
U UP? = Are you up?
UR = You are or Your

WTF = What the fuck
WYFM = Will you fuck me?
WYRN = What’s your real name

WYCM = Will you call me

XOX = Kiss Hug Kiss
XTC = Ecstacy

Y = Yes or Why?
YDKM = You don’t know me
YIWGP = Yes, I will go private

YW = You’re welcome

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Please keep in mind that the circumstances and parties involved MUST be considered when determining the meaning of these and other symbols and phrases. These are just the dangerous side of terms and phrases that pertain to warning signs of a child or teen speaking with a predator or even a peer out to do them harm.

I have compiled this “Most important” list and following explanations with only the dangerous point of view in mind. None of this, of course, would apply to consenting adults or two high school friends having a normal teenage conversation about the movies or the mall.

“Age Sex Location” translates to: “I want to know if you fit my age of attraction, if you are the gender I want, and where you live so I can find you” when texted by a predator. It’s okay to tell the age and if you’re a female or male – this establishes evidence if a predator later claims not to know he/she was talking to a minor. But it is NO ONE’S business where you live. If you want to state the country, that’s fine, but not even naming a state is okay.

“Change subject/No text/No reply necessary” can be used to signal the other person that they are being watched.

“Come right back” or terms like “What took you so long?” or anything that makes the child feel rushed or obligated to respond is a warning sign of control, either by a predator or a peer. They should know they are under NO obligation to text/IM/E-mail anyone at any time, unless it is their parents. Anyone who makes them feel they have to report in should be left alone and exposed to parents or teachers immediately. This is a very unhealthy, controlling relationship. Even if it’s just a friend.

“Dear Friend” is not acceptable for an adult to tell a child. “Dear Wife/Husband” when said by a teen is a warning sign of a relationship that has gotten way out of hand, particularly if it is with an adult.

“DL” Down low means keep it secret/private. Downloading is a dangerous thing to do with people someone doesn’t know or trust. Kids should always know the risks involved in downloading something from another person, particularly someone they only know online. These can contain viruses, Trojans, worms, or even unsolicited pornography. Any of this activity can be brought the attention of law enforcement, particularly if anyone sends your child or teen a nude photograph – wanted or not, which can be considered a felony (depending upon the circumstances and evidence, plea bargaining etc…) when it is from an adult to a minor. (See Sexting for more of my thoughts on teen – to – teen behavior.)

“Do you masturbate/scream loud?” and any other personal questions regarding sex are no one’s business! Teens should understand that no one has the right to inquire such things, and if they do, they are to be ignored immediately and reported to a parent, teacher, and ultimately the police, whether the sender is known or not. Such questions are geared toward having a sexual relationship, and should be viewed as a serious threat.

“Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” when asked by a stranger online is intrusive and should be ignored. “I’m sorry but that’s really none of your business,” would be the appropriate response. A teen may think it’s innocent curiosity, but they do not know who is asking that question. It is highly inappropriate for an adult to inquire that of a minor who they do not know, and if this is an online personality, there is no way the teen knows if this is an adult or an adult pretending to be a teen. The reason for an adult to ask this of a minor is because that adult wants to be that minor’s bf/gf. Even if the teen says yes, this will not dissuade the adult predator, only let him/her know the teen may be sexually active and they need only find a way to come between her/him and the real life bf/gf.

“Friend of a friend” translates to: I Am A Stranger!

“Friends with benefits,” “Fuck buddy,” and similar are exactly what they sound like.

“Face to face” means the person wants to meet offline.

“Got a pic” – kids/teens should NEVER share their photos with anyone they don’t know. They can never get them back and they never know who is doing the asking or for what purpose.

“In front” or “In back” refer to sexual positions.

“Is it tight” refers to a girl’s vagina/virginity.

“I love you” is never okay for a stranger to tell a teen/child, or vice versa.

“Parent/Mom/Teacher/Kid in room” is a sure sign there is something that NEEDS to be monitored. Adults have to remember THEY pay the bills and the child is THEIR responsibility. By “respecting a child’s privacy,” you are hanging a sign around your child’s neck saying, “Do what you want – I will completely ignore your sexual advances and illegal behavior that will ruin my child’s life forever.”

“Private” means that no one else can see the conversation, like if they were in a chat room. If it’s in an IM that is being monitored, this could also refer to private e-mails that no one else can read.

“Real life” refers to offline life, so if someone wants to meet IRL (in real life), they want to take their relationship from cyberspace into the real world for physical contact.

“Role playing games” on the internet more often than not involve online sex, and are highly addictive and emotional since the characters get to act out their deepest fantasies. RPG’s almost always result in offline meetings when kids or teens are involved. It’s a grooming tactic, a way for predators to help their victim become comfortable with sex. Please don’t confuse this with real games out there that involve taking over castles or defeating enemy armies. Use your judgment when you see you child engaged in a RPG, but remember that games which allow interaction with other gamers are just as dangerous if not more than chatting with strangers. Gamers become close friends online, and this is a way for a predator to form a tight bond with the target.

“What’s your real name?” and other questions asking address, private contact information, phone number etc.. are red light questions that someone is trying to get personal information to use in a way neither you nor your child will want.

“XTC” is a drug.

“XOX” is as we all know the symbols for kisses (x) and hugs (o); however, this has no place in the conversation between an adult and a minor.

“Take off your clothes,” and “Get naked on cam” etc… Sexually explicit dialogue is NEVER okay, not even teen-to-teen, and should be ignored immediately and reported to parents, teachers, and most importantly, police. What happens on text always has the potential of happening in real life, especially if the person is known to the teen. If the person is a predator, this could lead up to abduction and rape.

Code can be and is often used in sentences, as well:
“W4nt 2 go 2 the m411 t0d4y?” translates to: “Want to go to the mall today?”

To some, this list and the translations may seem reaching or even as the old adage goes: Seek and ye shall find, meaning if you’re looking for something bad, you’ll see it even if it’s not there. This, simply, is not the case here. These codes and their meanings are quite popular and no secret at all. I, myself, have used some of these codes in adult conversations. Those of us who use them know quite well what we mean when we say them, and we know minors have no business using them and no adult has any right using them with a minor.

If anyone has any to add, please do so in the comment section and I’ll update this post in the future. Any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask – as always, comments are held private until I approve them and can be kept private if the commenter asks me to do so.

…Before I end this, just to lighten the mood a little bit – and because I find this fascinating: Ever wonder what RSVP actually stands for? Well, here ya go! Répondez S’il Vous Plaît

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Dangerous Trends, Internet Safety, Sexting | 11 Comments

Technology and Teens: How Parents Are Failing To Keep Them Safe

Sunday night, I was honored to hear my mentor, Sues, from Warriors For Innocence be interviewed by Guru from B.A.C.A. Nation. Guru spoke about grooming and grooming of parents by pedophiles, which I posted about Sunday to coincide with the show.

I had already planned on this post about teens and technology due to some comments I read on another site last week. One of those comments affected a victim I know very deeply, so I knew I had to post something about it to bring more awareness to the dangers of the net.

After Sunday’s show, I decided to tie this piece in with pedophile grooming of parents because although the teens are being groomed by the online predator, the parents are allowing it to happen.

I came across this website the other day (withholding names) in search of Summer curriculum ideas for my home schooled daughter. I browsed around a bit and discovered it is a community where people can learn about child issues from experts and post their own questions and concerns.

The very first topic that caught my attention was Is Your Child Sexting? What Parents Need To Know. Of course, readers to my site know how that topic gets me going.

In the comments, one man’s remarks made me take notice and check him out. He is Richard Guerry and he runs an organization called Sexting Is Stupid. (His message on his site, particularly the second to last paragraph, is a brilliant one, and I suggest every parent and child advocate read it carefully.)

There was one comment to the post that, although disturbing beyond belief, provided the best example of why parents must monitor their teens and enforce strict cell phone rules. It was by a 16 year old who tried to persuade parents that the article was a lie and there is nothing sinister to sexting, that sending nude photos is just “flirting.”

Well, you be the judge:

E says:
i’m a teenage girl and i know of lots of my friends who do this a to tell the truth, this artical makes it sound a lot worse than it is its just really some innocent filirting that predator peadofiles have picked up on and taken advantage of just as they have been doing for years so i ask you not to go through your teenagers phone or email searching for things like this because your just likley to destroy the limited trust they have for you and trust me as a teen myself i know that were not that trusting aspeicaly if your a parent that they know is likley to do this so my answer to this is Don’t overreact if you find that your teen is doing this with there boyfriend or girlfriend and if it is a serios problem possible envolving a person Way to old for them….. then take the matter in more serious hands but please remember DO NOT brake there trust it is the most worse thing you can do byebye

It was encouraging that a commenter below her was shocked at this reply, and she had this to say:

J says:
As a parent, E’s comments above are terrifying. This is not innocent “flirting” between two teenages. Seriously, when did sending sexually explicit images of yourself to another person EVER constitute innocent flirting. This article does not advocate parents to rifle through their children’s computers and cellphone, but instead it acts to educate both minors and adults alike that there is a darker side of the internet that they have no idea exists. Again, I think the teenager’s perspective is the loudest cry yet that this sort of education is needed in every school across America (and abroad).

I applaud J for such a great comment. I commented, as well:

J, I agree!!! It would be nice to have E’s parents see this comment of hers. This attitude is precisely WHY predators pick girls like her as easy targets. I run a child sexual abuse awareness and prevention site, and teens like E fit right into our scope for targets – if her behavior isn’t suggestive of someone already being taken advantage of.

My suggestion to ALL parents of teens is to read E’s comments carefully and realize that this attitude is shared among many teens. If you didn’t think your teen needed to be spoken with about this issue, imagine that E’s parents probably think the same thing.

As for sexting being illegal: It is an unfortunate thing that some states are opting to put teens on the SOR (Sex Offender Registry) because A. It diminishes the real horror of actual child porn (which includes but is not limited to scenes of child rape and molestation) and B. It punishes teens for being stupid – and we were all stupid teens at some point.

I am 100% for putting our foot down and ending sexting among teens. I am 100% against teens being charged with child porn. Sexual harassment, yes.

If this means, E’s of the world, that we parents go through your phones which WE PARENTS pay for, then we shall go through those phones, as well as rooms, drawers, backpacks, and so forth. If you are doing nothing wrong, why worry? Secrets are for people with something shameful to hide.

We are the parents. We are the guardians of our children until they are old enough to leave the nest. It is our responsibility to protect our children and guide them in the right direction, not bow out of our duties simply because our children throw Amendment rights in our faces.

If there is a choice between freedom of speech and serving our children up to be sexually harassed and assaulted, we will opt for removing said freedom and any other liberty that our children are misusing in ways that are detrimental to their well being. We are parents first, friends second. Period.

I was intrigued after this and decided to browse through the internet safety section. That’s when I found this question by a member and my temper once again flared:

Q: My daughter’s heart has been broken by an internet romance. What do I do?

I found out about a year ago that my daughter, who is 16 years old now, had been carrying on an internet love interest for about 6 months before i knew anything about it. My husband and I were very concerned, but thought that eventually it would fizzle out. Unfortunatlely, they still have been instant messaging, and communicating through the computer. I know it was wrong not to break it up earlier, but we were hoping not to have to break her heart. They live very far apart, and have never seen each other. But we found out they having been professing their love, and talking about getting married, etc. I also recently discovered from an unclosed computer screen that he (17 years old) had planned to run away to meet her last month, but plans fell through. Last night we told her we wanted her to end it. She hasn’t eaten anything today. And hasn’t talked to us much at all. Do you have any advice or suggestions to help? Thanks

Most of the responders seemed to believe there was no reason to not think this to be a real 17 year old boy, although they did advise close scrutiny by parents and that the parents should demand to meet him. This comment, however, was extremely worrisome to me:

There’s no reason to force your daughter to break up with her ‘internet boyfriend’. That’s exactly the wrong approach to take with an adolescent. For her, the draw is less about having an online relationship and more about rebelling. Open up a dialogue with her to talk about the risks and rewards of dating (on-line and off-line). You can turn this undesirable situation into a productive conversation about dating and sexuality. It’s important that your daughter realizes you’re looking out for her best interests. You mentioned that they have never ‘seen’ each other. Encourage them to converse via webcams and social-networking sites. Internet relationships invite distorted realities; enabling them to trade pictures and use webcams will remove the fantasy element. Bringing the relationship out into the open lowers the likelihood that one of them will do something dangerous, like running away from home to meet the other one. Although extremely difficult, the best thing you can do is to support your daughter.

I’m sure other advocates reading this see exactly what I see, but I will not post that opinion here. I will say, though, that this response is every online predator’s dream! Any parent following this advice is serving their child up on a silver platter.

There was some hope with this answer from an expert member:

Unfortunately, it’s easy for teens and adults to quickly get swept up in internet infatuations and romances. You’re right to be concerned about your daughter’s feelings toward this person she has never even met. I would highly encourage you to tell her to end this relationship. Of course your daughter will be crushed and feel like it’s the end of her world if she can’t be with this boy. However, because they have discussed meeting and running away together, it’s time to put an end to it. She will most likely be angry and rebellious for some time, however this is one of those times where you as a parent need to put your foot down. It’s a matter of her safety and well-being at this point and it’s your job as her parent to keep her safe. Also take this opportunity to talk to your daughter about appropriate relationships and boundaries. Explain what it means to be in love and the difference between love and lust. Keep an eye on her and be there to listen and support her frustration during this time. If you feel that it is necessary, take her to a counselor to talk about her break-up. I know it’s going to be a rough road, but this is a lesson you don’t want her to learn on her own.

This is my own answer to that question:

Prove he really is a 17 year old boy. Honestly, pay attention – VERY close attention – to the news.

This is Grooming 101, dear. Sexual predators do this all the time. This exact scenario is carried out in attempt to keep her hooked, to see how deeply involved she will be (by agreeing to meet him and then willing to try again when his first attempt failed, she has proven to him that you pose no threat to him and she is lonely and easy).

All the time she spends talking to him, also, lets him know her parents have placed no limits and that her parents aren’t monitoring her online activities. You’ve set your daughter up as bait, whether you want to believe that or not.

By allowing this ridiculous “romance” to continue, you send her the clear message that you don’t care if she has a relationship with an unknown stranger on the net. You, also, send him the clear message you don’t care about the safety concerns police warn parents about on a daily basis.

You are the parent. To the point, it is you NOT her who makes the decisions. And if you are allowing her to continue a relationship online with a complete stranger, the result will be on you. She is a teenager. A kid. She needs discipline (self-control, self-respect) and parental responsibility. She seems to, also, need more involvement by the two of you in her life and real life human interaction. Please show some or she will be another statistic on the evening news.

I would strongly advise getting the police involved. They do not take this kind of thing lightly. The very fact that he has told her he tried to run away and had her agree to a meeting is enough for them to do a full investigation into his true identity. Your daughter is in danger. Do something about it before it is too late.

And then this person showed up to make light of my advice:

Involving the police, or asking your daughter if she’s watched the news lately will make her feel alienated and stereotyped, and she will be more likely to rebel, and put herself in a potentially dangerous situation.

I agree with the comment about breaking down the fantasy. Allow them a supervised meeting, or let them speak over a webcam. If she can hear his voice, and see him, she will likely see someone different than she pictured in her head. This will give her a reality check.

Bottom line: No one wants her to run away from home and meet some guy who may or may not be who he says he is. The role of a parent is to teach a child how to be an adult. Using force will not educate her on personal responsibility, or encourage her to think critically about the situation.

If it turns out he is who he says he is, and they hit it off in person, maybe they’ll end up together. Would it really be so terrible if two teenagers met and fell in love over the internet?

(I would love feedback on this one, either in comments or a personal message!)

It is these parents and individuals who left these comments and posted these posts who impress upon us the most that we must continue to educate and press on, even when we are chastised for doing so. The children are all that matter, so I’ll take my lumps when they are dealt me because I know that I have helped that child in some way, whether their parents admit it or not.

The more I hear from parents of teens on subjects like this, the more furious I become. Are today’s parents brain dead? Do they not pay attention to the news, to their children, to their own responsibilities?? What is wrong with these people? The first thing to happen when their child ends up a statistic is to blame the media, peers, computer companies, the internet .. Anyone and anything to keep from admitting they were at least 95% responsible.

Parents, wake up! You needn’t be a worry wort or paranoid to realize the dangers to your children are very real. You needn’t lock your child away and never permit them access to technology. Keeping your kids from being the next headline tragedy is as simple as knowing that no one ever knows who is on the other side of that cute avatar, so you should, therefore, never permit your child to become attached to anyone or share any personal information online.

Would you post your social security number all over a MySpace page with a request to please not steal it? Of course not. Why? Because you know damned well someone is going to steal it! Why, then, do you allow your precious child to post their photos and personal information all over the net? Why would you allow your child to meet a stranger from the net if you would never hand over your social security card to one? Is your child less important than your credit?

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Dangerous Trends, Grooming Techniques, Internet Safety, Parents who get it, Sexting, What Makes a child a Target | 14 Comments

*UPDATED* Law and Order: SVU – Upcoming Episode on Sexting

(My after-show thoughts are at bottom of post)

I previously posted twice about sexting, which is the cell phone texting of sexually explicit self-photographs among teens. The cases mentioned involved the act of states making sexting illegal and to the point of even placing on the registered sex offender list teenagers who send images of themselves to other teens. This is because the law they are accused of breaking is child pornography. Again, you can read more of my thoughts and this action here.

Tuesday night, May 5, 2009, Law and Order SVU will air a special on sexting, which will include not only the dangers in which teens can find themselves among their peers, but (I believe from the ads on TV) also the law that results in their arrest.

I will be tuning in, as always, and will update this post with my thoughts afterwards.

***UPDATE***

Let me say that for the first time in a very long time (maybe ever?), I am very proud of Hollywood!

This episode approached all the angles of teen sexting, and in such a way as to not be so preachy it would turn away teens who would greatly benefit from watching this episode.

It didn’t try to put blame on the girl responsible for taking the images, although it rightfully addressed her lack of self-esteem, poor choices, and her responsibility for her own actions.

It didn’t try to blame her parents for the way they raised her, reminding people that teens are teens – as we once all were – and can and will do things parents would never expect. It reminded us that even if we would like to believe we know everything our children are doing, there is a 99.9% chance we do not. This, in turn, drives home the fact that self-respect and healthy values must start at home from the beginning. No upbringing will guarantee a child won’t get themselves into situations we never want to see happen, but teaching them to respect themselves and others and their true value in life and to us greatly impacts the prevention of their becoming another statistic.

It did place blame for what happened to her on her peers, who are far too often these days given a free pass because the victim “shouldn’t have done it in the first place.” We all make mistakes. That doesn’t give anyone the right to take advantage of our human nature and hurt us in the worst ways possible.

And the crème de la crème for me? They hit head-on the absurdity of charging teens with child pornography for taking nude images of themselves. The judge, Judge Hilda Marsden played by Swoosie Kurtz, was the embodiment of everything wrong with this new practice. Ms. Kurtz represented this failing of a system toward the youth of our society with perfection.

Although the reason behind the judge’s ruling ultimately had nothing to do with sexting, it shows the dangers of having the law in place that permits the prosecution of children as child pornographers.

I’ve said it several times on my site and elsewhere, and it deserves continued repetition: teens behave like idiots around each other. We all did. They do stupid things. We all did. Some of those things involve violence and serious offenses toward others and society. Sending risque photos of oneself to a friend is nowhere near the seriousness of killing someone for sneakers or pimping out fellow school girls for drug money and a “rep.”

As foolish and undignified as sexting is, it can in no way, shape, or form ever be compared to the molestation and rape of children, which is what true child pornography displays. I have seen true child pornography, and when you’ve seen children and babies being forcibly raped and sodomized in images and video, you damned well know the difference between it and teenagers behaving recklessly to impress the opposite sex.

Please, if your state is looking at or has already passed laws to prosecute teens for sexting – which will, also, land them on the sex offender registry and brand them as sex offenders for the rest of their lives – write to your governor, to your district attorney, to your mayor, and to anyone who will listen and demand they rethink this ignorant decision.

I challenge anyone in government who would agree sexting among teens is, indeed, child pornography to visit the special crimes/special victims department of their local law enforcement building and look through the thousands of images and videos of real child pornography. Anyone who can then, in good conscience, say they are one in the same doesn’t deserve any place of authority overseeing the protection of our children.

Below are two clips from the official site of NBC’s Law and Order SVU. I hope to find a full episode on the site or elsewhere in the event anyone who missed it comes across this post and would like to see it. If and when I do, I’ll post it here. It needs to be seen by every parent of every teen in this country as well as teens, themselves.


May 5, 2009 Posted by | Dangerous Trends, Law, Sexting | 1 Comment

Sexting: Legalize Or Demonize

In February, a story was brought to my attention about Indiana’s new practice of charging teens with child pornography and placing them on the Registered Sex Offender list. I posted it along with my thoughts on how this makes a mockery of the Registry and punishes teens for making a stupid mistake. Since then, other cases have cropped up around the country with other states following Indiana’s example.

Someone recently sent me this link about a law VT is pushing for to make sexting legal.

Vermont Considers Legalizing Teen ‘Sexting’

Monday, April 13, 2009

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Legislature is considering a bill that would legalize so-called “sexting” between teenagers.

Sexting refers to the exchange of explicit photos and videos via mobile phone. Under current laws, participants can be charged with child pornography, but lawmakers are considering a bill to legalize the consensual exchange of graphic images between two people 13 to 18 years old. Passing along such images to others would remain a crime.

Supporters told The Burlington Free Press they don’t want to condone the behavior but they don’t think teenagers should be prosecuted as sex offenders for consensual conduct.

The bill passed the state Senate earlier this month. The House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on it this week.


Rob is afraid this is the beginning of a slippery slope that will permit 18 year olds, who are clearly legal adults in cases of sex and statutory rape, to prey on children and perhaps even extending that age to 21 or even over that. I have to agree.

The consensus among sexual predators is that anyone who hits puberty is automatically ready for sex and completely of the right mind to consent to sex with anyone older, including 18 year olds, 25 year olds, even 45 and 50 year olds. If these predators had it their way, the new laws making sexting legal would include them.

Normal people see the absurdity in believing 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, or even 16 year olds can rightfully consent to sex with much older men. Adults who prey on this particular age group, however (Hebephilia and Ephebophilia), will ferociously argue the young one is completely developed mentally and developed enough physically for a “healthy” sexual relationship with an adult. It’s their justification for raping/molesting kids, to put it bluntly.

I see where Rob is coming from because 18 is clearly over the Age Of Consent (AOC) in all states. Therefore, by allowing an 18 year old to possess sexually explicit or even mildly nude photos of anyone under that AOC (especially 13, 14, or 15), Vermont is completely throwing the AOC laws out the window and permitting blatant disregard for that line the government has set as never okay to cross. Vermont is legalizing child pornography.

Quite frankly, I cannot help but wonder if this is some law maker’s way of stirring up trouble for those who only asked for common sense in punishing teens passing on such photos. Either that or this is a purposeful step in the direction of the above mentioned adults manipulating the system to eventually have child porn legalized. It isn’t a far step if you’ve seen the tactics we have. They will nudge at the line little by little until what at first becomes blurred eventually becomes non-existent.

Makes one wonder why Vermont included “18” in that age range, and just who was responsible and who will be in support.

April 13, 2009 Posted by | Dangerous Trends, Law, Sexting | 1 Comment