This is long but PLEASE read it to the end and if you have kids or grandkids, or Friends with kids Then by all means pass it on to them or better yet if you have kids sit down and talk with them about this.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

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. 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.

She logged on under her screen name ByAngel213.
She checked her Buddy List and saw GoTo123 was
on. She sent him an instant message:

ByAngel213: 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?

ByAngel213: Of course I do. LOL I guess it was my imagination cuz' I didn't see anybody when I looked out.

GoTo123: Unless you gave your name out on-line.
You haven't done that have you?

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 play?

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: Did you pitch?

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


Meanwhile......
GoTo123 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 because she had just told him. He knew she
stayed by herself until 6:30 p.m. 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.

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 the back of her
shirt He knew he had found her. Quietly, he walked a
safe distance behind her. 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 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 a police officer and your online 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
on-line 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
howdangerous it is to give out too much information
to people on-line. 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
in Michigan?" 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 on-line.
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.


Please send this to as many people as you can to
teach them not to give any information about
themselves. This world we live in today is too
dangerous to even give out your age, let alone
anything else.

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