Imaginif prompts for daily writers.
If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the below photo (changes daily) as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and your link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Stories below are copyright and are Megan Bayliss' writing around the below daily picture prompt.

Who is your Child Innocently Telling Too Much To On-Line?

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 as the footsteps kept pace with her she was afraid to look back and was glad that she was almost home. Shannon said a quick prayer "God please get me home safe."

She saw the veranda light burning and she leaned against the door for a moment, relieved to be in the safety of her own home. She glanced out the window to see if anyone was there. The footpath was empty...

After tossing her books on the lounge room table she decided to grab a snack and get on-line.

She logged on under her screen name "ByAngel213."

She checked her Messenger list and saw her on-line friend "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 neighbourhood?

ByAngel213: Of course I do. LOL I guess it was my imagination cuz' I didn't see anyone 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 netball 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 ice-skaters. LOL

GoTo123: What is your team called?

ByAngel213: We are the Liverpool Cats. We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They are really cool.

GoTo123: Did you shoot goals?

ByAngel213: No I play Goal Defence. I've got to go. My homework has to be done before my parents get home. I don't want them cranky 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, 1991

Age: 13

State where she lived: New South Wales

Hobbies: Netball, Movies, skating and going to the mall.

Besides this information, he knew she lived in Liverpool because she had just told him.

He knew she stayed by herself until 6:30p.m. every afternoon until her parents came home from work.

He knew she played netball on Thursday afternoons on the school team, and the team was named the Liverpool Cats.

Her favourite position GD was printed on her uniform.

He knew she was in the eighth grade at the Liverpool High School.

She had told him all this in previous conversations they had 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 netball that day. She didn't want them to make a scene and stop her from walking home from the courts. 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 Goal Circle position to see a man watching her closely. He was leaning against the seats at the end of the Court 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 in the stand 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 the Burger joint and sat there until time to make his move.

Shannon was in her room later that evening when she heard voices in the lounge-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 netball courts sitting on the lounge chair.

"Sit down," her father began, "this man has told us a most interesting story about you."

Shannon sat back. 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 Hobart!"

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 how dangerous it is to talk 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 Netball team and the position you played. The position and name on your jersey just made finding you a breeze."

Shannon was stunned. "You mean you don't live in Hobart?"

He laughed. "No, I live in Sydney, 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 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. Tell others about this so they will be safe too. Promise?"

That night Shannon and her dad and Mum all knelt down together and thanked God for protecting Shannon from what could have been a tragic situation.

The above story was forwarded to me by a young women who learnt the hard way about sharing too much information on-line. She asked me to share it with readers, to ask them to email it to their children so that the kids will at least read it and not just try to get away from a Mum and Dad, face to face lecture.

Rather poignant I thought. How about you? What do you think of it?


If you need some help around kids on-line and ANY suspicious activity please go directly to the Virtual Global Taskforce Against On-Line Sexual Exploitation of Children and report the suspicious activity. Do not wait for something to happen.
Here's some other very helpful sites concerned with on-line sexual predators accessing our kids:

Netalert (Australia)
Thinkuknow (U.K)
Netsmartz (U.S.A)
Kid Proof Safety (Canada and U.S.A)
Cybertip (Canada)

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