Keeping Kids Safe
There's something so awesome about seeing one's
kids grow up to be happy, successful adults.
Just thinking about it fills me with joy. Now I
understand what my mom used to tell me.
It was scary raising kids twenty-some years ago.
And it's maybe even more scary now. There were
predators then, and predators now. But it's so much
easier for them to reach the kids now. It's
heartbreaking to see a story about a stranger
luring a kid through a social networking site.
Privacy settings aren't necessarily private -
plenty of people know how to get around those.
Some parents have no idea what's going on when
their kids are using the computer. Kids are
constantly coming up with new ways to hide things,
sharing secret codes between one another (like
announcing that mom just entered the room so hide
what you're doing), sending pictures they think
nobody but the recipient will see, and I don't even
know what else.
But who is really at the other end? Maybe a
friend or classmate; but maybe not. Is it a 13 year
old, or is it a 45 year old pretending to be a
I remember my parents telling me about
"kidnappers" as we called them back in the olden
days when I grew up (the dinosaur days, when color
tv was first born and a computer was a giant
contraption that filled a whole room, with all
sorts of flashing lights and spinning reels).
When my sons were very young, we weren't
internet people yet so I pretty much taught them
the same things my parents taught me about those
kidnappers - don't trust a stranger, don't accept
food or get in their car or help them find a lost
puppy - that sort of thing.
But now, I don't think I would know what to tell
kids. Even parents who assume they are on top of
things, may not be at all.
Sometimes parents are unaware that they are
putting their children at risk. Pictures of little
Jimmy or Suzie are adorable. Of course we love to
show off our kids and grandkids. And most of the
time it's probably fine.
But it's not like taking a picture out of our
wallet and showing the grocery store clerk.
When pictures are online all sorts of strangers
can view them (even if set to private).
But where it REALLY gets risky is when a child's
full name is displayed.
It's often not that difficult to find someone's
location when you have a person's name and maybe a
few names from friends' lists to cross-reference,
where friends and relatives may give more
information on their own locations.
Predators can be intelligent, slick, calculated,
and patient. Why take the chance?
Kids deserve to be kept safe and have the chance
to grow up happy, healthy and successful in
whatever they choose to do.
©2011, Mary Lou
* * *
Mary Lou St.
Lucas is a former stay-at-home mom who has
participated in custody and divorce-related support
groups. She often speaks out through impassioned
letters to local newspapers regarding issues
affecting quality of life for children and
families. She has experienced divorce, including
the heartbreaking decision to give up daily contact
with her two sons for what she believed was their
best interest at that time, as well as the societal
stigma attached to being a non-custodial mother.
She emphasizes the importance of kids having BOTH
parents in their lives on a regular basis, even if
the parents cannot or will not be married anymore.
She hopes other parents will see that there may be
alternatives to the standard custody arrangements,
depending on the individual situation. She writes
from her perspective of today instead of revisiting
and dwelling on the painful emotions of her past.
She strives to live a full life in spite of a
recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and believes a
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