Internet Safety > Kimberly’s Story*

“Recently, my husband and I decided it was time to really tackle the issues of teens using the Internet as the main vehicle for communication. Although she has only ‘young teen’ AOL access, there are local teen chats that are not moderated.

Our daughter is thirteen. We, as parents felt it necessary to talk to her about the possibility that maybe the fifteen year old boy she was talking to in Seattle, could actually be a sexual predator trying to arrange a meeting. She seemed to understand, but I could tell she really thinks I am just overprotective.

So one day I surprised her, and asked her to hang out with me for a little while. We signed on AOL, and went to the Missing and Exploited Children Website. We searched a fifty-mile radius from our house in Crystal Lake, IL. What we found was very disturbing. Several girls missing in the last four to six months were between 13-17 years old. I printed their pictures; we talked about the four girls. My daughter was very concerned, and admitted that sometime people ask to meet her, but she says she lies about her specific location. I asked her to think about the girls if they actually went out to meet someone, and it turned out to be the last day that they were alive? She looked at one of the girls and wept. One of the girls looked like her best friend. I left her with the pictures and names, and told her to think about the girls next time anyone asks her questions. I figure I don’t want to block her access. That’s what my parents would have done. And I probably would have agreed to meet someone the next day, just to prove them wrong. Teen girls are like that!

A few days later, I was home alone. I, of course, sign on to my daughter’s screen name just to test those waters. I want to see for myself what these kids are talking about. But no one came up on her buddy list. She had ‘blocked all’ except school friends and family. To me, that was a small victory. I know that eventually she will test those waters again, but in her actions she acknowledged that it could happen, and I can only hope that if faced with the question of someone meeting her, she has to decide if it is worth dying over if she is wrong.”

* This extraordinary lesson was emailed to our office and is being used with permission.

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