Just GR8 by Peggy Bogaard Lapp
A few weeks ago my good friend posted a cryptic comment about teaching children about how things are not what they seem. Her point was that children, however many times told not to do something, may still do it, as they are impulsive, and have no ability to think rationally in adult situations. Her post frightened me, because it was so unclear as to what she was talking about. My friend is a sole parent, and she has repeatedly discussed personal safety with her children. And because her children attend the school where I work, I wondered if something happened there. It would have been great if that was all it was.
It turns out that her 11 year old daughter received a text from someone who she did not know. She exchanged texts, including giving out her name, school, and sent several photos of herself. All the time thinking she was contacted by a friend – even though she wasn’t clear on WHO that friend was. And I know what you are thinking. Do you have the same sinking feeling in your stomach as I did as I heard this story? I felt ill just knowing where it was going. And yes, the person on the other end of the texts was a man. Not another 11 year old. A grown up. The very kind of person, doing just the sort of things that my friend had warned her daughter about. Repeatedly. In detail. With emphasis.
Now you might be thinking, well, that girl wasn’t very smart. She was impulsive. She didn’t listen. Well, true, on all accounts, when it comes to this situation. But this girl is not the one to blame. It’s not her fault that there are terrible people out there that look for any opportunity to get a child in their grasp. This girl is just like any other tween that has a fun gadget that can connect her with the world. She is my daughter. She is your daughter. And now she is a very, very scared girl.
The point is that just because they can swipe with their finger and download apps and play fruit ninja, it doesn’t mean that they understand how it all falls into the little black battery powered device in their hands. They certainly don’t ask how an app is created – they just know it is there. They also don’t know who is on the other end of that text message, that Facebook post, that on-line game avatar, or chat room. Much of these things have evolved so fast that as parents we can’t keep up. But the message I’m sharing is this (copied from my friend’s post):
Children of all ages do not think like adults. No matter how many times you teach them something that will help protect them, they may still not fully comprehend how SERIOUS a seemingly innocent situation can be. They don’t have the experience or adult comprehension to be able to think a situation through safely. PLEASE, communicate frequently with your children. It could save their life!
The police were notified, and the school district security team. Since this person really didn’t do anything illegal, there is no way to confront him. However, this man will be in for a big surprise if he tries to mess with my friend or her children. $152.50 gets her a concealed carry permit.