How It Begins:
"Hi there. It's me. What ya doing? Can I be your friend? You can talk to me anytime. I am always here. My door is always open. Can you post your pic? Post a really cute one."
Who am I?
I am a voyeur. I am a sexual predator. I will talk with you and tell you things you want to hear so that I can look at your downloaded pictures and fantasize about you. I will let you talk anytime. Shoot, I might even meet you one day after you trust me. You won't know I am a voyeur or a predator. I will post a picture that will make you trust me.
Do you still want to talk to me now? Do you still want to post more pictures?
The Scary Reality:
With increasing online dangers for both pre-teens and teen girls, my research as an educator has expanded from teaching secondary language arts and social studies to the world of online technology. Through the course of overhearing conversations and concerns recently from students, I am seeing the urgency to educate students (especially girls) about sexual predators who are caught up in the world of voyeurism and cybersex. Teaching kids to be smart in their social media choices, whom they get involved with online, and how they conduct themselves online is fast becoming a new and interesting challenge. I hate to say it, but voyeurs and sexual predators have more control than we think. Computers, iPhones, and the new 4G network hands the control to these predators...it's like secrecy on a platter.
The Discovery of Katherine Tarbox
Katherine Tarbox's autobiographical memoir, A Girl's Life Online, written in 2000, offers a chilling yet real story of online sexual predation, through the words of a young teen.
This story is an eyeopening yet appealing page-turner about how sexual predators begin seeking out young kids on the internet. Katie, at age 13, fell victim to developing an online relationship with a 23-year-old man, and ultimately paid a terrible price for it. Katie was an elite student and nationally ranked swimmer attending a top school, with workaholic parents. She reveals her innermost torment and struggle: "When you are thirteen, you spend most of your time trying to figure out whether you're a kid or a teenager or an adult, when you are really part of each. You feel like people are constantly judging you for the most superficial reasons. I was beginning to feel completely alone."