|...an 18-year-old Rhode Island man showed up unexpectedly at Lunenburg High School after meeting a female student there on MySpace.com. The man entered LHS with the intention of leaving the student, 15, a message at her locker, he told police. School officials told him he was trespassing and made him leave the property..|
|I am a middle-aged man with a 21 year old daughter and 19 year old son and I have no interest in meeting teenage girls. But for those who do, there is now a place on the web that makes it very easy.|
I wouldn’t be writing this column if I thought I were spilling secrets or in any way aiding adults who have an inappropriate interest in teens but, unfortunately, predators tend to be very good at what they do and most of them probably already know about what I’m about to tell you.
The sad fact is that it is now very easy to find teenage victims in your community, thanks to an online social networking service called MySpace.com. This advertising-supported site, which was acquired last year by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, presents a veritable smorgasbord of teenagers, organized by community and high school. If you know the name of your local school and the sex and age of teens you’re seeking, you can find them on MySpace. What’s more, in most cases, you can find pictures, names and photos of their friends; details about where they were born; what they like; and where they hang out. In many cases, you can also find their full names and cell phone numbers.
As an experiment, I used the site’s search function to look for 16- and 17-year-old “women” who attend the high school near where I live -- where my kids went to school. Within seconds, I was presented with a list of 198 girls who were registered on the service. Including boys, there were a total of 577 listings for “current students” which represents about a third of the school’s student body.
The search function allows you to specify age – starting at 16. MySpace’s terms of service say that it’s open to people 14 or older, but there is no age verification process to prevent younger kids from setting up an account by lying about their date of birth.
One of the girls, who is 16, has a sexually suggestive word as part of her user name. Thanks to MySpace, I have a pretty complete picture of her life. I know the day she was born, the hospital she was born in, her full name, where she goes to school, what she likes to eat, what time she goes to bed at night and her favorite fast-food restaurant. She gets along with her parents “sometimes.” In the past month she says she has consumed alcohol, eaten sushi, been to a mall, and gone “skinny dipping.” She says she has shoplifted at least once, wants to be a lawyer and would like to visit Egypt. Information like this, which used to take predators months to extract from a child can -- in the wrong hands -- be skillfully used to help win a child's confidence.
Thanks to several pictures on her site, I also know exactly what she looks like and have seen pictures of many of her friends and am able to access her friends' profiles as well. This girl lives within a few miles of my house. Some of the pictures were clearly taken at the local high school.
With information like this, it would be pretty easy for someone with bad intentions to locate this girl. Then the question is what might happen. Hopefully, the young lady would have the sense to avoid the person, but armed with enough information, predators can be very good at persuading would-be victims to comply with their wishes.
This is not to say that kids should necessarily avoid using MySpace or other social networking sites. These sites have some very positive attributes, including developing communications skills and, in some cases enhancing self-esteem. But they should by common sense safety rules, including not giving out personally identifiable information. Unfortunately, many teens don’t see the danger.
|1. I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents’ permission. |
2. I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
3. I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.
4. I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
5. I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the service provider.
6. I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
|QUOTE (gracie @ Apr 3 2007, 12:53 AM)|
|errr... almost all of these rules have been broken on here. (post your house, post pictures of yourself, HMF meets, etc.) But anyway!|
|QUOTE (JACina boxx @ Dec 28 2007, 07:43 PM)|
|thats great! oh god, my friend gave her address to what she thought was a 17 y/o 'cute boy' on myspace. he showed up and ended up being a 36 y/o man. Her uncle freaked and called the cops. He family banned her from myspace now, thank god.|