Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

If I Were an Internet Predator . . .

The conclusion to I Was a Facebook Spy (link)

To recap: My wife and I discovered that Bernadette, our 14-year-old daughter, had opened a Facebook account despite our prohibition against it. I created a bogus fb identity, a 14-year-old boy called Jerry Mander and befriended her for the purpose of spying on her. This revealed an abundance of useful info.

At the end of the previous segment, I (Jerry) had invited her to a clandestine rendezvous at a fast food restaurant for the purpose of seeing if she could be easily lured into the clutches of an online predator. Bernie took the bait hook, line and sinker.

 

As I approached MegaBurger, I noticed Bernadette’s scooter propped up against the masonry near the entrance. She happened to be walking out with a soda as I was walking in.

            “You know, you could be getting kidnapped, beaten, raped and killed right now,” I stated with calm severity. I was careful not to let my emotions overstep the obvious teaching opportunity here. Bernadette stared at me blankly, confused.

            “I created a fake Facebook profile and lured you up here, just to see what you would do. There is no Jerry. He was just a 45-year-old man pretending to be a boy your age. Fortunately for you, he was your father and not a serial killer . . . this time.”

            Bernie was now visibly distraught. She was holding up her right arm, which was shaking uncontrollably. This is something she does when she is under stress.

            “You know, anybody can open a Facebook account, stick any old picture on there and say anything. Internet predators do it all the time.

            “As for your account . . . we know everything! We know you sneak downstairs when I’m in the shower in the morning and you’re on Facebook when you’re at school and when you’re supposed to be doing homework. That’s how we found out about your detention.  We know what day you created your profile – the day I had all those meetings – and that you’ve been messing with my camera in order to upload pictures.

            Bernadette said very little. She continued shaking, and began bawling. It was unclear whether she was upset because she was lied to, because Jerry didn’t exist, because she was busted for so many things or because she had just made a potentially fatal mistake. Perhaps it all weighed in on her, and it was quite a hard pill to swallow. I felt bad for her. Just a little.

            I gave her a hug and told her I loved her.  I tried to communicate the unrelenting sense of devastation that parents of missing children endure. How could we even think of going about our lives without her?

            “Grab your scooter,” I said, “we are going home.” She would now have her mother to answer to.

            What if it were an Internet predator at work here? Imagine, after Bernie failed to come home, my absolute shock upon finding her discarded scooter on the parking lot. The police would be called. They would take the computer, as they do in cases like this, and discover that she was on Facebook before she disappeared. Imagine how we would feel were it revealed she was doing things on the online of which we were completely ignorant.

            By strange coincidence, Dateline rebroadcast on old episode, The Case of the Girl Who Never Came Home, the very next evening. We sat down together as a family and watched.

            In 1986, 13-year-old Cindy Zarzycki snuck up to the local Dairy Queen to catch a ride to her boyfriend’s birthday party. She was never seen again. Twenty-two years later, it was discovered that she had been lured there by her boyfriend’s pedophile father, who killed her and buried her on one of his properties. After decades of guilt, disillusionment and uncertainty experienced by her family, the killer was finally convicted and her body was found.

            The timing of this broadcast could not be more perfect to drive the lesson home. Perhaps some divine “coincidental engineering” was at work here. For many victims, unfortunately, chance frequently conspires against them.

            I posed the following question to Bernadette: “Do you understand given what happened that your mother and I feel that our original misgivings about you being on Facebook were justified?”

            “Yes.”

            These rare occasions when children grasp adult rationale are a blessing. It will be quite a while before we even consider letting her back onto a social networking site. At least Bernadette will understand why.

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3 Responses to “If I Were an Internet Predator . . .”

  1. Wow! Well it turned out like I thought it would. I feel a little sorry for her, but’s for her own good. I know we don’t want our kids turning out like us back at that age, or worse. I’m gonna have my son read this, as he keeps bugging me to let him on FB.

  2. Wow. Sounds like you really drove it home to her! Good job to you and….Felicia 😉

    Round One.

    And so many more to go.

    Best of luck to you sir ~ you’re a great daddy!!

  3. gonna send this to my mom


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