Shannon could hear the footsteps behind her as she walked toward home.
The thought of being followed made her heartbeat 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 home safe."
She saw the porch light burning 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 sidewalk was empty. After tossing her books on the sofa
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 ByAngel213.
Checking her Buddy List she saw GoTo123 was on.
She sent him an instant message:
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
cause 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 you know.
GoTo123: Did you have a softball game after school today?
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: Do you pitch or what?
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 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: North Carolina
Hobbies: softball, chorus, skating and going to the mall.
Besides this information he knew she lived in Canton,
she had just told him. He knew she stayed by herself
until 6:30 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 online.
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 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 over-protective.
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 bleacher 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 blocks to Shannon's home and once he saw where
she lived he quickly returned to the park 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 fast food restaurant and sat there until 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 ballpark sitting on the sofa. "Sit down," her
father began, "this man is a police-man 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 online friend, GoTo123."
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 online 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?"
"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 online.
Before you know it, you have told them enough for them to find you
without even realizing what you have done. I hope you 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!"
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.
Author from Teen Focus
Never tell anyone your full name, address, phone number, city or any other
personal information about yourself or your family.
Watch what you put on your profile. Don't put your date of birth, especially the
year. Remember you are not required to put any information on the profile you
don't want to.
If anyone IM's you or e-mails you and asks where you go to school, where you
live or any other personal questions you don't feel comfortable with, do not
hesitate to say, "I'm sorry, I don't give out personal information" or "My
parents have asked me not to tell that."
If someone sends you a e-mail form with personal information about
themselves on it and suggests you fill one out just like it, be alerted and don't
do it. Who knows to where and to whom it will be forwarded!
If you go into chat rooms and anyone pressures you to talk to them, won't
leave you alone or asks for personal information, leave the room immediately!
If you ever get suggestive, angry or abusive messages tell your parents at once
and contact the Internet provider you use and seek assistance.
Don't respond to e-mail from people you don't know. If you believe you've
received something strange, tell your parents.
Never agree to meet anyone face-to-face that you have talked with online.