I read a story recently at CNN Money. The story was about Nina (not her real name). Her story begins when she was 18 years old. She was from an upper middle-class home and college bound when her life changed forever. She accepted a Facebook “friend” request from a boy that she thought was, “so cute.”
Nina was looking for friends. Her mom had recently been sentenced to two years in prison. She felt lonely. She started consistently sending messages back and forth to her new male friend. He told her that he was falling in love with her. They talked about going on trips together, getting married, and possibly having kids. All this happened in 4 weeks…can you say red flag??
In September when Nina’s friends were going off to college, she decided to travel two and a half hours to another state to meet her online love for the first time in person. Things went downhill quickly after meeting him. He dropped her off in a part of Seattle where prostitutes look for customers. Nina’s beau told her that she was going to “catch dates.” According to the author of the article, she did not run because she did not have much of a family life to go back to, and she was in love, so she was willing to do anything for the man she thought loved her.
Yes, Nina’s dream guy was a pimp. For him, she sold her body for 4 years.
Nina’s story reminds me of Justin Strom. He was the leader of the Underground Gangster Crips gang in Virginia. For six years he and his gang members used Facebook and DateHookup.com to meet girls aged 14-17. They would send messages to girls telling them that they looked cute and asked if they would they like to make some money…RED FLAG ALERT.
The girls thought they were just meeting a nice new guy. The unsuspecting young ladies were turned into prostitutes. The girls were required to serve up to 10 customers a day. They charged $30 for 15 minutes of sex; I have no idea how much of that money they got to keep. The FBI found over 800 messages that the gang members sent out to potential targets. Strom would lie and tell the girls that they could make as much as $200 an hour working private, classy, and safe nude dance parties. If a girl expressed interest, a gang member would arrange to meet the young lady.
One young lady Strom found on Facebook arranged to meet him in front of her house. After she got in the car, He explained what her job really would be. She wanted no part of it, but it was too late. He forced her to remain in the car; he slammed her head against the window and cut her arm with a knife. That same night, he took her to an apartment where she was made to have sex with 14 men.
Young people, please be very careful. Online you should always have the attitude of, “believe nothing and verify everything.” Never tell people where you live, and never agree to meet anyone.
Parents, you have to get involved, too, and know what your kids are doing. I am sick and tired of parents saying, “I can’t keep up with all of this technology. My kids know way more than I do. I did not have all of this stuff when I was growing up.” I say — So what? Do you think because you are choosing not to be involved and to be ignorant of what’s going on, that is going to make the predators, pimps, and pedophiles go away? Surely your child is worth your best effort to educate yourself. The alternative may be your daughter is somewhere in a dark room with 5-10 men lined up eager to take their turn with her.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Have a good, open and honest relationship with your child.
Talk to your kids about online dangers.
Make sure your kids know that once they post something online, it is there forever.
Ask them if they have ever been made to feel scared or unsafe by something that happened online.
Keep the family computer, laptops and tablets in a high traffic area in the house.
Know every social network site you child has subscribed to. Become a member of the site as well. Many parents even have all of their kid’s passwords.
Use Parental Control software on your child’s computer, tablet and phone. The software will automatically alert you when something is going on that you do not approve of.
Do an Internet search for “keep kids safe online;” go to some of those sites and read and subscribe to them so you can stay abreast of what’s happening.