Your parents and/or teachers have talked to you about internet safety. Many of you have been online for years and not happened upon a creeper, but some of you have and that's what happened to 13 year old Aurora.
Aurora and her friend entered that video chat room and met a guy with whom they chatted with for awhile. This guy convinced the two girls to do some lewd things together for him to see. It took some convincing, but eventually they did it. One time. They told him that was it. They were done.
So, who did that hurt? No one saw it except that guy. The friends promised to keep the secret. So, no big deal, right?
The guy wouldn't let Aurora alone. He threatened her if she didn't keep up the X-rated videos for him, he would call her school, tell her parents and her life would be ruined. So, fearing the worst, Aurora kept up with the videos. Eventually the threats stopped and Aurora went on with her life keeping this big secret buried inside her. The secret was safe, no one would know.
Fast forward three years, Aurora is now 16. Last week the videos were anonymously turned over to the police. Aurora has been charged with two counts of child pornography, faces 5 years in prison and could possibly be registered as a sex offender which is a label that lasts a lifetime.
The man who threatened Aurora has not been found.
So, let's break this down a little.
Most 16 year olds are taking their driver's test, getting their first job, looking at colleges. Aurora is looking at PRISON for 5 years. She will not be able to finish school with her friends and applying to colleges won't be happening.
She will have to check "YES" on EVERY college and job application to the following questions:
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime against children?
All of this because of ONE POOR CHOICE!
Yes, Aurora is the victim here but because of the way the situation panned out, she becomes the one who is punished. Fair? No. But quite honestly, fair or not, it's what's happening to her and she can't take back what she did.
Girls! Listen up! In life there are no do-overs!
This is IT!
Use Aurora's lesson to help you remember to stay safe online. Don't put yourself in a position to fall into a situation that puts you in a corner.
Here are some safety tips:
- Don't friend people you don't know on any social networking sites (facebook, myspace, formspring)
- Make sure all your personal info is set on PRIVATE and cannot be viewed by people who aren't listed as your "friends"
- Don't ever accept an invite to video chat with someone you don't know - who knows what they want to "show" you
- Never give out personal information to anyone you are not PERSONALLY friends with
- Be careful WHAT you post on public forums - always re-read and be cautious of the "message" you are sending to strangers or possible perpetrators
- Don't EVER send compromising (nude, sexy) photos of yourself to ANYONE - NOTHING disappears online - ANYTHING that has ever been shared online is still there even if it has been deleted - it can still be accessed!
- THINK before you POST!!
- Don't assume this kind of thing CAN'T happen to you - that's when you let your guard down