> 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 the footsteps kept up with her pace. She was
> afraid to look back and she was glad she was almost home. Shannon said
> a quick prayer, "God please get me home safe." She saw the porch light
> burning and ran the rest of the way to her house. Once inside, she
> leaned against the door for a moment, relieved to be in the safety of
> her home. She glanced out the window to see if anyone was there. The
> sidewalk was empty. After tossing her books on the sofa, she decided to
> grab a snack and get on-line. She logged on under her screen name
> ByAngel213. She checked her Buddy List and saw 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 neighborhood?
> ByAngel213: Of course I do. LOL. I guess it was my imagination cuz'
> I didn't see anybody 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 softballgame 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 bees. LOL
> GoTo123: What is your team called?
> ByAngel213: We are the Canton Cats. We have tiger paws on our
> uniforms. They are really kewl.
> GoTo123: Did you pitch?
> ByAngel213: No I play second base. I got to go. My homework has to be
> done before my parents get home. I don't want them mad 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, 1985
> State where she lived: North Carolina
> Hobbies: softball, chorus, skating and going to the mall.
> Besides this information, he knew she lived in Canton because she
> had just told him. He knew she stayed by herself until 6:30 p.m. every
> afternoon until her parents came home from work. He knew she played
> softball on Thursday afternoons on the school team, and the team was
> named the Canton Cats. Her favorite number 7 was printed on her
> jersey. He knew she was in the seventh grade at the Canton Junior High
> School. She had told him all this in the conversations they 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 the ball park that
> day. She didn't want them to make a scene and stop her from walking
> home from the softball games.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 someonestaring at
> her. It was then that the memory came back. She glanced up from her
> second base position to see a man watching her closely. He was leaning
> against the fence behind first base 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 on a bleacher 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 a fast food restaurant and sat there
> until 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 to see the man from the ballpark sitting on the sofa. "Sit
> down," her father began, "this man has just told us a most interesting
> story about you." Shannon moved cautiously to a chair across from the
> man. 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'simpossible! GoTo is a kid my
> age! He's 14 and he lives in Michigan!" 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 kidsand 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 give out too much information 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 ball team and the
> position you played. The number and name on your jersey just made
> finding you a breeze." Shannon was stunned. "You mean you don't live
> in Michigan?" He laughed. "No, I live in Raleigh. 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 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"
> "I won't," Shannon promised solemnly. "Will you tell others about this
> so they will be safe too?" "It's a promise!"