I am reading Jilliane Hoffman’s Pretty Little Things, and I am literally pooping in my pants as I get deeper and deeper into this book. I brought it to work in case it got quiet and I could get through a few more pages – a girl can dream and all.
The short version (no spoiler alert here) of the story is that there is a serial abductor of young girls. There is an investigator who has first hand experience as his daughter went missing/ran away 11 months earlier.
The serial abductors stalks his prey through the internet. He uses a fake identity i.e. the image and details of the local jock, and then uses this to befriend girls on My Space or whatever social network is appropriate to the girl he is targeting.
Teenage girls are always going through some teenage angst where they hate their mother/father/brother/cousin and a good looking boy (an older man posing as a good looking seventeen year old) is always going to find a captive audience in an innocent thirteen year old girl (especially one whose parents just do not understand her.)
I am still reading it – but it has alerted me to the fact that predators no longer need to hang out at shopping malls to steal our kids.
Nope, they can march right into our child’s bedroom through whatever social networking site our child is using, and what is more we will pay for the bandwidth for them to do it.
The predator can then convince your child to willingly tell them everything about themselves, and the predator in question uses this information to lure the child in further. If the idea of this did not make me so angry (and scared) I might even be impressed by how cunningly clever, and simple this plan was.
Then the predator, in some cases goes on to “willingly” coerce your child to present themselves to the pedophile in person at a location of their choosing.
I can honestly say I am not sleeping more soundly whilst reading this book.
I told Kennith about the book – as far as I had got in the story.
We both agreed that Connor shouldn’t go on line when we are not in the room on his Moshie Monsters game.
Moshie Monsters is a bit like social networking for young kids where Monsters (they design) are their avatars and they decorate their house and buy flowers – more innocent you can’t get. But that being said, there is really very little stopping a creepy (and mildly creative) 45 year old man from logging on as a Monster, and saying he is 9 years old, and “befriending” my child and gleaning information from him.
Kennith and I are sort of looked at each other slightly wide-eyed, and wondering how we are going to deal with this going forward. We want the kids to have computer/internet access, and we also do not want to sit next to them all the time while they are doing it, policing their every move.
The reality is becoming more obvious (and disturbing) that you no longer need a car and a bag of sweets to lure a child away from it’s parents/care givers. All you need is internet access and a gullible innocent child and Bob’s your uncle on this one!
I am about ¾ of the way through the book – it is very good, maybe not the best I have ever read (that honour belongs to Michael Robotham with Shattered) but Pretty Little Things is good none the less.
I am not sure if we will be moving the computer into Connor’s room after reading this book.
The one thing I have realized is that neither Kennith nor I can risk technology getting ahead of us. We need to stay updated with social networking/facebooking/twittering/mix-it and every OMG and WTF – or whatever else is going to be available in the next 5 years.
We need to keep up what the kids are in to, and more importantly try to see the windows where other people can climb in to our kid’s bedrooms. (listen, I find this entire subject as disturbing as you do, and I am freaking out as well …. )
There is no way we can sit and wonder where the hell it is all going, and why our kids can work the new iphone and we can’t set the clock on our eye level oven!
Unfortunately it is a whole new scary world out there, with real monsters that do wait under the beds. As parents, we need to also realise it is an opportunist paradise for what can only be described as a “better off culled” part of our society.
I really am not going to be sleeping any better for the next twenty or so years.