This past week one of our large television stations in Ontario, did a story on the predators that surf the social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.
While I knew this type of situation occurred I didn’t realize the enormity of it.
I am familiar with Facebook and not so much with the other ones. I know that weekly I receive requests from someone wanting to be my ‘friend’. However, if I don’t recognize the name of the person, I will go to their profile page just to ensure that for some reason I perhaps do know them but have forgotten because it was a long time ago that we had contact. If I find that I do not know them I of course ‘decline’ their invitation.
Unfortunately young people do not bother for the most part to do that. They blatantly accept any request. I think somehow it’s like a status symbol for many in that the more friends the better. When I checked three of my grand children’s sites, one had over 300, one over 500 and one over 800 ‘friends’.
In the story the mother of a 12 year old boy became suspicious when her son’s behavior became different than normal and so one day she decided to check his Facebook site, and questioned one of his ‘friends’. It seemed the conversation that had been going on was too explicit, and decided to call the police. She told her son and he was adamant that this friend was a 14 year old girl, and thought his mother was wrong in her belief.
When the police looked at his site, they knew that they were dealing with a predator right away and proceeded to ‘take over’ the boy’s account for the next month or so. They finally arranged so the other person wanted to meet the ‘boy’ and proceeded to do so. The investigation finally came to a conclusion and it was found that it was a 38 year old man who happened to be a teacher at the school that the boy attended. It also happened that several other students at the school were also interacting with the same teacher on Facebook.
I won’t go into all the facts, only that at the home of this man they found 18 computer hard drives, 9500 pictures and 2000 movies, many pornographic, of young people lured into compromising photos and videos. According to this special task force of the police department there are over 750,000 predators surfing the web in the various media sources.
The reason I wrote this was to just say that if you have children or know any young people, that perhaps it is a good idea to talk to them and monitor the information they provide to others on the computer.
My grandchildren are all young adults now, and so not quite so vulnerable but in any case I think I’ll have a conversation or two about the number of ‘friends’ they have on Facebook!