Story about ‘grooming’ on Facebook (and similar sites): ‘What will happen to Edah?’

A story about Internet grooming.

Edah sat in the cold room, shivering and frightened, she wondered how she had got herself into this terrible mess. She was not sure how she would get herself out of it.

She crouched in the corner feeling dreadful inside. How could she have been so stupid? She had been warned about the dangers of Internet dating and she had just laughed; now this.

Edah began to piece together the story which was her life. She had been happy as a young child with her mum and dad and younger brother. When she was 10, her father left and her mother could no longer afford to live in their nice comfortable home. They had to move to a flat on the other side of town. She had to go to a new school. She knew no one. Some schools are very good at making new students feel welcome but this was a large new primary school where everyone seemed to rush around not noticing Edah. She was feeling quite sad, and rather shy after her father left home. She missed him a lot. She used to sit on the second-to-bottom step outside the entrance to the main school building. That way she saw lots of people and she thought that maybe someone would speak to her but they never did. After a year at that school, Edah went on to the local comprehensive. She hoped that she would meet some new friends, but she had got into the habit of hoping people would speak to her. She didn’t think that she should make the first move. What if the person she spoke to didn’t like her? How bad would that be?

Edah was listening to a conversation between some girls in her class. They were gossiping about ‘chatting’ on Facebook. It sounded like good fun. They were talking about having a lot of Facebook friends. Edah thought that would be nice. If she could find friends on Facebook, perhaps she wouldn’t be so lonely.

Edah’s mother had a computer which she allowed the children to use sometimes. She was so tired after work that she only had the energy to watch television in the tiny sitting room. Edah knew how to go online and had learnt how to up-load photographs. She accessed a photo of herself from her mother’s picture folder. That would do. She looked quite grown up, much older than her 12 years.

Edah had asked a girl in school how to join Facebook and the girl had explained what to do.

“I’ll be your first friend if you like. I’ve got 472 friends I am going to try to get 500 before Christmas”, she said.

Edah felt flattered that this girl had offered to be a friend even if only on Facebook. She began to feel quite excited. Maybe life was going to improve. It didn’t matter if you were shy on Facebook. No one would know. Unfortunately Edah’s mother didn’t understand how such networking sites operated. She just said “Oh, that’s nice. Don’t spend too long on it Edah – you must leave time for your homework”.

Nobody told Edah about the dangers of the Internet. Most people are more or less what they say they are. They might pretend to be prettier or cleverer or to have more money than they actually do, just for fun. Mostly they just make funny  or not very funny comments to each other.  But sometimes they pour out their troubles to anyone who will listen….

One-day Edah overheard the girls in school chatting about dating. One of them said she had met a boy on Facebook. He was from her old primary school, but was two years older than she was. She had arranged to meet him and go to the park with him to chat about the old school and things. She told her friends that he was nice and that she would be seeing him again.

Edah felt excited inside, she wondered if she could just ask on Facebook if anyone from her first school was on line. She had the best time in that school.

A reply came. She didn’t recognise the name. It was a girl’s name, Jackie. The girl said she remembered Edah, although Edah did not remember her. The two of them struck up a ‘friendship’. The girl asked Edah all about herself and having no one else to talk to Edah told this girl everything. After about two weeks, the girl suggested Edah and she should get together and have a ‘proper chat’.

They arranged to meet outside the post office in the main street of the area where Edah lived.

Edah told her mum she was going to meet a school friend. That Saturday off she went.

A friendly looking man approached her outside the post office. He said he was Jackie’s dad. He seemed to know all about her. He said Jackie had to look after her little brother so he had come to fetch Edah. Edah believed him. She got into his car and was taken to a cold, empty house in an area she didn’t know. The man told her to wait in a room. He locked the door behind him.

You are not going to hear about the end of this story. Many things might have happened to Edah. Some of them very bad indeed. Maybe she managed to escape.

Questions

Who did Edah think she was going to meet when she went out that Saturday?

Who did the man say he was?

How did he know all about Edah?

Why did she get into the stranger’s car?

Is it any safer to go and meet a girl who is a complete stranger, or a boy you have never met?

We hear about bad people pretending to be both girls and boys.  It is not safe for a child to go alone to meet strangers. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make friends on a site such as Facebook?

What advice do you get from school?

Discuss these points and more about internet safety with your teachers and parents or youth leaders.

If you don’t really understand this story and have no one to discuss it with please read on.

This story started with a girl locked in a room by a man who had pretended to be a girl on the Internet.  He had groomed Edah on Facebook.  That means he deceived her and made her feel safe and liked by a new friend.  Then he pretended to be the father of that so called ‘friend’, Jackie. Jackie actually did not exist.  In that way he tricked Edah into meeting him and going with him in his car.

 Teachers:  Any helpful additions to my questions or remarks here would be welcome.  Thank you.  This story came about because  a very vulnerable special needs student of mine was led to believe that a girl on Facebook, whom he had never met ‘loved him’ and he was planning to meet her.

Story ‘Always in Trouble’ for children 9 to 13

Tale of Janek. A story for a very active boy who likes to challenge others and gets into trouble very often – request from Rita.

 

The Tale of Janek  

‘Always in Trouble’

Janek lived in the frozen north. For eight months of the year the ground beneath his feet was solid, hard and frozen. He had a sister called Sylvie. His mother and father kept the family alive by following the herds of caribou – a kind of deer from which they obtained meat and hide. Janek’s father had a very loud voice. He could shout across the frozen ground. His voice seemed to carry for miles. Janek loved to go out with his father to check on the deer. They usually went on foot, using short flat skis and ski poles.  Janek was the sort of boy who always wanted to try to make things happen. He was never satisfied with things as they were. He liked to imagine what would happen if he did this or that and often those things annoyed his parents. When they went to count the herd, Janek’s father always pulled a little sled which had grass nuts in a sack. With these he could tempt the caribou to come closer so that he could inspect them one by one to check for example if the females were pregnant or are if any were lame or wounded. He had to make hard decisions about weak deer. They were a burden to the herd and had to be culled. He didn’t like to do it, but he would shoot sick deer. He would perhaps skin them taking the hide if it was good enough but he always left the carcass for the wild animals to dispose of. He realised that if the wolves were eating carcasses from the culled deer they would not be killing the healthy young deer.

Janek was fascinated by his father’s gun. He was not allowed to touch it as he had shown himself to be a careless lad who could not be relied upon to take care of valuable equipment. He had borrowed his father’s tools and left them out only to be buried by the next fall of snow and not found again until the spring when they re-appeared rusty and useless. He did not listen carefully to instructions when people were explaining things to him because he always thought he knew how to do things even when he didn’t. Time proved again and again that he had not listened and that he did not know what he was doing. But Janek was not one to learn from his mistakes.

One day Janek’s friend came to stay for the weekend. Janek wanted to impress the lad. His father had gone off to deal with some problem in the village. Janek decided he would show his friend how good he was with a gun. Now Janek had never actually used the gun. He had watched his father use it and he thought it would be very easy to shoot down some tin cans that he set up on a low wall outside the family home.

He got his friend to line the cans up in a row and to stand back.

“Bet I can knock them all down,” said he.

Janek eyed along the sight of the gun and pulled the trigger. The gun went off with an almighty crack. It jolted back against his shoulder and hit him very hard on the top of his arm. The pain was terrible. Janek dropped the gun on the ground. He couldn’t hold it any longer. His arm was hanging down at a strange angle.

“I’ll get your mother!” shouted his friend disappearing out of sight. Janek felt faint. The pain was terrific. He managed to walk towards the house a little way then his legs crumpled beneath him.  He fell to the ground.

Janek’s mother came rushing out of the house. “Whatever have you done this time?” she cried in a voice both worried and exasperated. “Oh, you’ve dislocated your shoulder, how did you do that?”  But Janek didn’t speak. He didn’t want to tell his mother about this latest escapade. Firing the gun was strictly forbidden to him.

His mother used the radio to speak to the flying doctor. Three painful hours later a helicopter landed in Janek’s field. The doctor asked Janek how he had dislocated his shoulder. “I fell on it,” Janek lied. The doctor gave his shoulder bone a sudden painful push. Janek felt the joint click back into place. The doctor disappeared very quickly as once again the skies were leaden with heavy snow. That night the snow fell again. Janek’s father was unable to find his gun. The boy was too scared to tell him what had happened to it. For weeks the gun was missing, hidden beneath the snow. Its well oiled parts had become dull and rusty. Sick animals limped along with the herd. The Wolves took three young caribou that spring. The gun was never the same again. Janek’s father gradually pieced together the story and felt angry, ashamed that his son was a liar.

Janek’s family went to live in the nearby town. His father was so disheartened by the bad behaviour of his son, whom he could not trust to tell him the truth or to be safe or careful with anything. His father went off for several months in the year taking Janek’s sister Sylvie with him instead of his son. He could trust Sylvie. He said that she wouldn’t do stupid things and get herself and other people into trouble.

Janek felt ashamed of himself. It seemed to him that he had two voices speaking to him and he had always listened to the one which suggested he that he did stupid things. Gradually as he got older Janek started to pay attention to his other voice – the more sensible one which knew what the right thing to do was. As he grew older he did not hear his father’s angry voice shouting at him from a great distance because there was no longer any need for it.  His father had noticed that Janek’s behaviour was better.

Janek had started to listen to his own voice of reason and felt much happier in himself as a result. He did know how to behave well after all. He could make the right decisions. He wasn’t stupid. He could be trusted.

Questions

Did the story remind you of anything in your life? What?

What was the result of Janek showing off to his friend?

Can you think of a time when you did things without thinking about what damage you might cause?

Do you sometimes feel as if you have a sensible voice and a stupid voice both telling you what to do, inside your head?  Which voice do you listen to? 

How would you advise your friend who kept getting into trouble?