Tori and Sam came to live with us full time on February 9, 2014. I can say without question, this has been a rocky road, full of ups, downs and unending challenges.
Over the last few weeks, we entered the age of terror by delving deeper into what exactly the kids are doing with their phones. Scary stuff!
We set up Safe Eyes on their computers, which monitors where they go on the internet. But it doesn’t monitor sites like Facebook–except to keep them from accessing unacceptable content from there (like YouTube videos that aren’t for kids).
When I found Tori accessing really bad stuff on her phone, we installed Net Nanny, which works for phones and computers. The problem was that it also did not monitor Facebook, and that is where she was being stalked by what appears to be a predator.
That is where the age of terror came from. When I found the messages on her phone sent through Facebook I panicked and was essentially paralyzed for a few moments. Then I called Wade, who called the police. We spent part of the next two days talking with their detectives, getting Tori in to be interviewed–along with turning over her phone to them–and now we are waiting to hear what if anything they can do about this.
First, I was terrified for her. She just turned 12 and didn’t have any idea that she was in danger. The predator made it seem like something innocent at first, telling her she was cute, which drew her in.
Then I was horrified that I hadn’t known to monitor Facebook messaging! I’ve been reassured by many, including our therapist, that there was no way I could have covered everything. But I am dismayed that I had what I now know was a false sense of confidence because we had the safeguards installed.
I am hoping that soon there will be some way for these tools to cover the messaging features. I don’t know when we will get the phone back from the police, and I am not sure when we do that we can let her use it any time soon!
I have checked Sam’s phone, and thankfully, his is clear. He is 15 now, and much less susceptible to this sort of thing.
Tori seems to have gotten the message. The detective (a woman) gave her a very detailed education about the sex trade, girls getting lured into prostitution by these people–it seems to have made an impression. I hope it scared her enough to do things differently in the future.
There is no way we can control all the things our children do. I have come to the conclusion that it is still about being there. I am determined to make sure that I am there, every day after school, that we keep the safeguards on the phones and computers, and that we keep letting our kids know how much they matter to us.
I hope it works!