Once inside she leaned against the door for a
moment, relieved to be in the safety of her home. She glanced out
the window to see if anyone was there. The sidewalk was empty.
After tossing her books on the sofa she decided
to grab a snack and get on line. There she could talk to strangers without
being afraid. After all, no one knew who she really was and couldn't hurt
||Shannon could hear the footsteps behind her as
she walked toward home. The thought of being followed made her heart
beat faster. "You're being silly," she told herself, "no one is following
you." To be safe she began to walk faster,
but the footsteps kept up with her pace. She was afraid to look back
and she was glad she was almost home. Shannon said a quick
prayer, "God please get me home safe." She saw the porch light burning
and ran the rest of the way to her house.
She logged on under her screen name "ByAngel213".
Checking her Buddy List she saw GoTo123 was
on. She sent him an instant message:
Hi I'm glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today.
It was really weird!
GoTo123: LOL You watch too much
TV. Why would someone be following you?
Don't you live in a safe neighborhood?
Of course I do... LOL... I guess it was my imagination... cause
I didn't see anybody when I looked out.
GoTo123: Unless you gave your name
out on line... You haven't done that have
ByAngel213: Of course not. I'm not
stupid you know.
GoTo123: Did you have a softball
game after school today?
ByAngel213: Yes and we won!!
GoTo123: That's great! Who did you
ByAngel213: We played the Hornets...
LOL..their uniforms are so gross! They look like bees... LOL
GoTo123: What is your team called?
ByAngel213: We are the Canton Cats.
We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They are really kewl.
GoTo123: Do you pitch or what?
ByAngel213: No... I play second
base. I got to go.. My homework has to be
done before my parents get home. I don't want them mad at me...Bye
GoTo123: Catch you later.. Bye
GoTo123 decided it was time to teach Angel a lesson.
One she would never forget. He went
to the member menu and began to search for her profile. When it came
up he highlighted it and printed it out. He took out a pen and began
to write down what he knew about Angel so far. ...Her name: Shannon ...Birthday:
Jan. 3, 1985 age: 13 ...State where she lived: North Carolina ...Hobbies:
softball, chorus, skating and going to the mall.
Besides this information he knew she lived in
Canton. She had just told him. He knew
she stayed by herself until 6:30 every afternoon until her parents came
home from work. He knew she played softball on Thursday afternoons
on the school team and the team was named
the Canton Cats. Her favorite number 7 was printed on her jersey.
He knew she was in the seventh grade at the Canton Junior High School.
She had told him all this in the conversations they had on line.
He had enough information to find her now.
"She'll be so surprised," he thought, "she doesn't
even know what she has done."
Shannon didn't tell her parents about the incident
on the way home from the ball park that day. She didn't want them
to make a scene and stop her from walking
home from the softball games. Parents were always overreacting and
hers were the worst. It made her wish she was not an only child.
Maybe if she had brothers and sisters her parents wouldn't be so overprotective.
By Thursday Shannon had forgotten about the footsteps
following her. Her game was in full swing
when suddenly she felt someone staring at her. It was then that the
memory came back. She glanced up from her second base position
to see a man watching her closely. He was leaning against the fence
behind first base and he smiled when she looked at him. He didn't look
scary and she quickly dismissed the fear she had felt.
After the game he sat on a bleacher while she
talked to the coach. She noticed his smile once again as she walked past
him. He nodded and she smiled back.
He noticed her name on back of the shirt. He knew he had found
her. Quietly he walked a safe distance behind her. He didn't want
to frighten her and have to explain what he was doing
It was only a few blocks to Shannon's home and
once he saw where she lived he quickly returned
to the park to get his car. Now he had to wait. He decided to get a bite
to eat until the time came to go to Shannon's house. He
drove to a fast food restaurant and sat there until time to make his move.
Shannon was in her room later that evening when
she heard voices in the living room. "Shannon,
come here," her father called. He sounded upset and
she couldn't imagine why. She went into the room to see the man from
the ballpark sitting on the sofa. "Sit down," her father began, "this
man is a policeman and he has just told us
a most interesting story about you."
Shannon moved cautiously to a chair across from
the man. How could he tell her parents
anything? She had never seen him before today!
"Do you know who I am Shannon?" The man asked
"No..." Shannon answered.
"I am your on line friend, GoTo123."
Shannon was stunned. "That's impossible!
GoTo is a kid my age! He's 14 and he lives in Michigan!" The man smiled.
"I know I told you all that... but it wasn't
true. You see, Shannon, there are people online who pretend to be
kids; I was one of them. But while others do it to find kids and
hurt them, I belong to a group of parents who do it to protect kids from
predators. I came here to find you to teach you how dangerous it is to
give out too much information to people online. You told me enough
about yourself to make it easy for me to find you. Your name, the school
you went to, the name of your ball team and the position you played.
The number and name on your jersey just made finding you a breeze."
Shannon was stunned. "You mean you don't live
He laughed. "No, I live in Raleigh. It made
you feel safe to think I was so far away, didn't it?" She nodded. "I had
a friend whose daughter was like you.
Only she wasn't as lucky. The guy found her and murdered her
while she was home alone. Kids are taught not to tell anyone when
they are alone, yet they do it all the time on line. The wrong people trick
you into giving out information a little here
and there online. Before you know it, you have told them enough for
them to find you without even realizing you
have done it. I hope you've learned a lesson from this and won't
do it again."
"I won't," Shannon promised solemnly.
"Will you tell others about this so they will
be safe too?"
"It's a promise!"
That night Shannon and her dad and Mom all knelt
down together and prayed. They thanked
God for protecting Shannon from what could have been a tragic situation.