13-year-old Julie was not happy in life. Julie didn’t like herself, she didn’t like her parents, and didn’t really have any friends. To fill the void, Julie started an online relationship with a much older man (I will call him Tim). Tim showered Julie with compliments and declared his love for her.
A few months later Julie decided to run-away from home to be with Tim. Julie was found three-weeks later, Tim was arrested and is now serving 25-years in prison. Tim sent Julie a letter from prison blaming her for his incarceration and threatened to kill her. Unfortunately, the letter was the “wake up” call for Julie that Tim didn’t really love her.
Practical Tips to keep kids safe online:
1. Communication is key. If your daughter suffers from low self-esteem she is more likely to seek approval and love from a stranger. This is the ideal time to foster open communication about how they feel about themselves and why. It’s also a good idea to get them involved in extra-curricular activities they are interested in, and off the computer. When my daughter complained about being the tallest girl in her class we signed her up for volleyball. Four years later she is playing levels above her age group and complains about not being taller…and trust me, she loves herself ( I hear it daily!)
2. Get in their business. Some parents call it “spying,” I call it caring. When your child is online ask who they are chatting with, check their friends list, and ask questions. If you don’t know the person “offline,” question if your child should be communicating with them online.
Check out Julies story in her own voice….