Two prominent stories in The News should be ringing alarm bells with parents.
In both, detailed insight is provided into the online world which offers unlimited educational and entertainment opportunities for users – but also has deep shadows, in which skulk individuals with bad intentions.
In these cases, the targets were young people – teens who if successfully lured in via the Internet, could become the victims of “friendships” that would be unhealthy at best, and sexually exploitive at worst.
Jeffrey Goddard posed online as a teenaged girl, a TV producer and a police officer in order to gain the attention of young boys.
In several instances, the 21-year-old man was successful in gaining the trust of a teen.
Goddard was charged with a number of offences, including sexual touching, and communicating via a computer to lure a child under 16.
He continued to make contact with youths, and was eventually busted again, and charged with breaching his conditions.
Goddard pleaded guilty last week. He is yet to be sentenced.
In a similar case, Jason “Booda” Reise pleaded guilty this week – to luring, and sexual touching with a child.
As with Goddard, he too had a presence on the social networking site, Facebook. And he too, sought out a teen – in this case, a 15-year-old girl.
There can be no clearer warnings for parents.
It is absolutely critical that you are diligent and aware of what your kids are doing online.
Check social networking friends lists and keep youngsters’ computers and texting devices in an area where their use can be monitored.
Perhaps most important of all – communicate with your kids.
Otherwise, someone else will, and the message may be evil.