MYSPACE - ByAngel213

"It can happen to you. Many kids are lucky. Some are not. Which one will you be."


After tossing her books on the sofa, Shannon decided to grab a snack and get online with the computer in her room. She logged on under her screen name, ByAngel213. She checked her Buddy List and saw a GoTo123 was on. She immediately responded typing an instant message:


Hi. I'm glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today. It was really weird!


LOL You watch too much TV. Why would someone be following you?
Don't you live in a safe neighborhood?


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


Unless you gave your name out online. You haven't done that have you?


Of course not. I'm not stupid you know.


Did you have a softball game after school today?


Yes, and we won!


That's great! Who did you play?


We played the Hornets. LOL. Their uniforms are so gross! They look like bees. LOL


That's funny. What's your team called?


We are the Canton Cats. We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They are really cool.


Did you pitch?


No I play second base. I got to go now. My homework has to be done before my parents get home. I don't want them mad at me. Bye!


Catch you later. Bye

GoTo123 now goes to a member menu and begins to search for her profile put on MySpace. 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 from their conversation and her MySpace page:

Her name is Shannon.

Her birthday is January 3, 1985, so she is 13.

She lives in North Carolina.

Her hobbies are softball, chorus, skating, and shopping at the mall. Besides this information, he knew she lived in Canton because she had just told him. He also now knew she stayed by herself until late afternoon when her parents came home from work, probably after 6 p.m.

He knew she played softball on Thursday afternoons on a school team named the Canton Cats because she had told him. Her favorite number 7 is printed on her jersey in an online picture. He knew she was in the eighth grade at the Canton Junior High School because she had listed her friends on her page and a picture of the school.

He now had all the information he needed to look for her.


Shannon has no idea her online chat coupled with her MySpace page could change the destiny of her life.

She didn't tell her parents about the incident on the way home from the ballpark that day. She was afraid they would make a scene and stop her from walking home from the softball games. She had already thought today's parents were always over-reacting because of the Web, and she felt her's were particularly the pits about online sessions. It made her wish she was not an only child. Maybe if she had brothers and sisters, she had thought, her parents wouldn't be so overprotective.

When Thursday rolled around Shannon had forgotten about the online chat with GoTo123 as she changed into her uniform in the gym locker room.

Her game was in full swing when she suddenly felt someone staring at her. It was then that the memory came back about her fear that someone was trying to follow her home earlier in the week. She glanced up from her second base position to see a man watching her closely.

He was leaning against the fence behind first base, smiling when she had looked over at him. The man not looking scary and probably a parent, she dismissed the sudden fear and went on playing her position.

After the game, the stranger sat on a bleacher while she talked to the coach. She noticed his smile once again as she walked past him, his nodding as her sort of smiled back to be polite. As she walked away, he quickly noticed her name on the back of her shirt. He had found the one he was looking for.

Quietly getting up, he walked a safe distance behind her as she walked home from school. It was only a few blocks to Shannon's home, so once he saw her walk into her home he went back to the ballpark where he had left his car.

Now he knew 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 nearby fast food restaurant and sat there until it was 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 and saw the man from the ballpark sitting on the living room sofa.

"Sit down," her father began, "This man has just 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! What a jerk.

"Do you know who I am, Shannon?" the man asked.

" No," Shannon answered in a huff.

"I am a police officer . . . your online friend GoTo123."

Shannon was stunned. "That's impossible! GoTo123 is a kid my age! He's 14. And he lives in Michigan!"

The man shook his head. "I know I told you all that, but it wasn't true. You see, Shannon, there are people online who pretend to be kids. I was one of them the other day with you online. But while others do it to injure kids and hurt them, I instead represent a group of parents who make it their job to protect kids from online predators. I came here to find you to show you how dangerous it is to talk to people online that you think you know, but you really don't."

He then reminded her of the information she has so easily volunteered the other day when online. "You told me enough about yourself to make it easy for me to find you. You named your ball team and the position you played. The number on the front of your Jersey from your MySpace page coupled with your name on the back I saw this afternoon made finding you a breeze."

Shannon stammered. "You mean you don't live in Michigan ?"

GoTo123 laughed. "No, I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. It made you feel safe to think I was so far away, didn't it?"

She nodded her head, shocked at the discovery and how he could have had other intentions..

"I'm here because I had a friend whose daughter was like you," he continued. "Only she wasn't as lucky as you were today. The online guy found her and murdered her while she was home alone. Kids are taught not to tell anyone when they're alone, yet they do it all the time online."

"It's so easy for people to pretend they are someone else online." he reminded her. "The wrong people trick you into giving out information a little here and a little 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. Tell others about this so they will be safe too, okay?"

"I promise!" Shannon agreed and hugged her dad. "I hadn't realized how dangerous it really was to simply sit in my room and type to someone online that I thought was just another kid like me."


Thanks to Jim of New Jersey



"Freedom is Knowledge"