Saturday, January 09, 2010

Potentially 'she' and a flustered me.

(Charlie, is this better?)

Recently someone new commented on one of my posts and as is my way I clicked on their link intending to be polite and thank them for doing so. On hitting their profile I discovered that this was a thirteen year old girl who had posted a picture of herself on her profile. Not only had she done this but she had also put her email account on her blog inviting people to email her.

Now at this stage obviously it goes without saying that 'she' could in actual fact be a hairy biker from Germany who just wants to get in touch with his feminine side, she could be a honey trap, or she could simply be a thirteen year old girl who has launched into the blogosphere.

But what if it is a thirteen year old girl? My work is all about protecting the vulnerable from those who are most at risk of harming them. I work specifically with those who pose the highest risk of harming children through their sexual preferences. I see the extent to which this kind of behaviour exists and the terrible damage it does to the victims. The internet is not a safe place for children.

I use my blog as an escape, it is my sanctuary if you like, it is the home of St Jude the person who spends her days with the extremely morally challenged, getting inside their minds, (trust me, not the most pleasant of places to be), restricting their attempts to hurt yet more lives and dodging the bullets they send flying my way when I block their efforts, metaphorically speaking of course, it's usually fists, feet, heads or the nearest object they can find. Don't worry I'm pretty good at dancing like a butterfly. My blog is the opportunity to escape into the person I like to be, with friends I like to be with.

So what on earth do you do when there is a potential risk to someone, who may or may not be who they claim to be, who you don't know. Well I left 'her' a friendly, hopefully non patronising comment warning her that not everyone is who they seem in the blogosphere and perhaps she may want to reconsider putting her email address on her blog. That done I returned home, as I did so my eye caught the photo in my sidebar and I remembered the post that was hidden beneath it... giddy aunt, nice one St Jude!

26 at confession:

Jimmy Bastard said...

Innocence is to be found in all walks of life, and many an age group at that. I made the big mistake of meeting a fellow blogger out of interest of what I assumed to be a meeting of minds.

He bandied my name about Glasgow as though I was his personal protector. He abused a friendship that was built up through the trust of words and two pints of beer.

I vowed never to make the same mistake twice.

Last year I met a woman who worked on a project of which I blogged once or twice about. I was recognised by my words (am I that obvious?)and we discussed the merits of blogging.

...and then the late night phonecalls started. After the calls were rejected the emails increased.

It came to a halt when she waited outside of my places of business to abuse my children of a night.

Trust has to be built up over time, not a day trip to a coffee shop or a bar.

Pat said...

It's so nice of you to enlarge your print and I'll try to do the same - techno idiot that I am.
BTW the white on beige is less clear - but I'm temporarily down to my old glasses. I have just recently had a ten year old follower.

St Jude said...

Jimmy - Two bad experiences. I agree trust takes time to build. I have never met any other bloggers, intentionally, I have met people that blog who have asked for my blog name, but to be honest after only one meeting, I have never given it too them.

Pat - I broke my glasses a couple of weeks before christmas and what a nuisance. I nearly got arrested on a shopping trip after I put my arm around a man I thought was his Lordship. A ten year old follower, giddy aunt, I wonder if they are 'accompanied' by their parents?

white rabbit said...

I agree - friendly, hopefully non-patronising warning is the only way forward. I've done the same once myself.

I prosecuted some dork a few years ago who thought he was talking to a 13 year old girl in a chatroom. He was in fact talking to a big hairy arsed copper. Having ascertained that the '13 year old' hadn't had sex and wouldn't mind he arranged to meet her. He booked a hotel.

He was nicked coming off the train at Paddington equipped with 4 condoms. He was about 50 and a teacher. He went to jail.

Served him right bigtime.

Maggie May said...

Mmmmmmh! It is a bit worrying. Its the email bit that is the most worrying.
I suppose any of us could be actually anybody. I suppose in the end, we have to trust that we are who we say we are.

Nuts in May

Pat said...

I have intentionally met four bloggers - separately - after feeling I knew them pretty well and I was not disappointed. My sons made sure I had taken obvious precautions.

Wandering Coyote said...

I have met several of my blog friends and have never had any problems, just great experiences.

But I am glad you said something to this supposed 13 year old. At least you can say you did your best. Who knows, she could have been some really lonely girl just looking for some connections.

I will try to change the size of my print, too...I'm on WordPress and things are not as easy there with customization!

savannah said...

*sigh* it does give pause, sugar. i agree with what you did, a gentle reminder that all is not what it seems. xoxoxo

(i'll try the larger type size on my next post, too!)

St Jude said...

White Rabbit - I have on a couple of occasions been the 13 year old in the internet chat room honey trap. Now I deal with the perps. There are no 'types' they could be anyone you might meet.

Maggie May - I always like to take people at face value.

Pat - I would like to meet some of my blogging friends, those I have gotten to know over time.

Wandering Coyote - I think you are possibly right, she could have been a lonely young girl, looking for acceptance, friendship etc.

Savannah - At least I tried something.

Kim Ayres said...

There is a limit to how much we can protect someone else - especially on the web when we cannot be sure who they are. I think you did the right thing.

I've met a small handful of bloggers - the wonderful Pat being one of them. I love it. But then I've had no bad experiences yet.

St Jude said...

Kim - I just hope that if she is who she says she is then the advice will help. I would love to meet up with some other bloggers one day.. I'm just worried that they would be let down. ;0)

Kevin Musgrove said...

You did exactly the right thing, but you don't need me to tell you that.

I'll accept everyone on the blogosphere at face value: as far as I'm concerned everybody could be, and probaly are entirely different to the people as presented and that's the rule of the game.

I've only met one fellow blogger (I had the advantage that I'd seen her at a trade show; she brought a posse of friends) and spoken to a couple of others. So far, touch wood, they've been splendid people.

St Jude said...

Kevin - I think most people are here with the same intention, that of enjoying their writing and making friends along the way.

Kim Ayres said...

If you're interested in people, you can't be let down when you meet them.

Either they are just like they are when they blog, in which case you know them already

Or their blog is an exaggerated version of the bits they like about themselves, in which case there's more to find out about them

Or they are nothing like their blog persona, in which case there's an entirely knew person to meet and discover.

How could I be disappointed?

Charlie said...

I agree with everyone that you did the right thing by leaving the girl a note. It seems strange, though, that pedophies would surf Blogger as opposed to the teen sites.

Thanks for enlarging your font, but it isn't necessary just for me. I can read your regular font just fine.

St Jude said...

Kim - I guess you are right, I suppose of late I personally have let a lot more of myself show through on my blog.

Charlie - sites aimed at young people are so heavily monitored these days those searching for teens for unsavoury reasons are looking in other places and Blogger is a social interactive platform. If you are sure about the font, I don't want you getting headaches trying to read.

Kim Ayres said...

Meanwhile, have you had any more thoughts about the blog design with regard to the email I sent back to you? You'd better let me know if you didn't get it

St Jude said...

Sorry Kim - yes I did get it. I've been pulling double shifts this week due to the weather and colleagues not getting in. I'm currently looking at some templates and I need to get the photos sorted. I'm hoping to give you something to work with asap. I really do appreciate your help.

ModernMom said...

Oh I am so glad you sent the "13 year old" a note. Perhaps you saved her some trouble and heartache:)

DUTA said...

You've done a double favor: to the girl, by leaving a warning comment on her site, and to yourself by getting a clear conscience after doing the right thing.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

My Oldest Daughter wants a blog. I'm going to let her have one after she turns 15 but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to insist on it being private at first. I might let her go public with it at a later date. I'm probably be her first reader and commenter at first. I want her to learn how to blog and have a blog, load pictures etc. but I don't want everyone to see it and she doesn't have an email address yet.

Yikes! My Oldest Daughter's 13 year old friend has a blog that her parents don't know about. Wouldn't be weird if it was hers that you found?


Green-Eyed Momster said...

s/b I'm probably going to be....

More hugs!!

Anonymous said...

I have had no experience on blogger of anything worrying as yet, I hope that it remains that way.

I truly hope the young girl has taken your advice on board.

@eloh said...

I do all kinds of naughty things in blogville.

My favorite is to read a blog and see a "problem". At first (I'm old and new at computer world) it would really ruffel my feathers... but I've learned to just be amused.

A fellow blogger talked me down outta the trees a couple times. I wanted to go all ape poop on them.

My problem with young kids on the internet ... as with all things... where are the parents?

I know...I live in the ozone.

I wanted to thank you for being my 100 buggy rider.

Meg said...

I did an experiment a while back with a social networking site and a picture of a "cute teenaged guy". I tricked not only my 13-year-old sister, but a bunch of her friends and some other random girls who just added me to their friends list. Before I shut down the account I told them who I really was and to be more careful about getting acquainted with people they meet on the internet.

St Jude said...

Modern Mom - I hope so, even small things can be so crushing when you are young.

Duta - thank you, you always seem to put things into perspective, I hadn't thought about it that way.

GEM - I think it is a good idea to let your daughter have a blog and to ensure she starts off safely. It could possibly have been the 13 year old friend of your daughter.

Eternally Distracted - I have to say that I have only had one minor bad experience, I think on the whole we are a nice bunch.

@eloh - hello there, I'm pleased to be your 100th buggy rider. I guess the parent thing is what I was saying, sometimes children can be devious little beggers, not in a nasty or menacing way they just want to rebel a bit, unfortunately it can sometimes bite them on the bum.

Meg - I really wish I could have seen their faces, now that would have been a Kodak moment. LOL. On a serious note, good for you, I hope they learnt from that lesson.

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