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. There she could
talk to strangers without being afraid. After all, no
one knew who she really was and couldn't hurt her.
She logged on under her screen name ByAngel213.
Checking her Buddy List she 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
GoTo123: LOL You watch too much TV. Why
would someone be following you? Don't you live in a
ByAngel213: Of course I do
I guess it was my imagination
cause I didn't see
anybody when I looked out.
GoTo123: Unless you gave your name out
You haven't done that have you?
ByAngel213: Of course not. I'm not stupid
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
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?
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
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
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 to anyone.
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
" 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
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 how
dangerous 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
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
"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
"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.