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Protecting Our Children

I Got Scared When a Stranger Asked His Name

By JoAnn Hamilton
June 15, 2006

I got scared today! I took a nine-year-old grandchild to the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City, Utah. For some reason, the cameras in the IMAX Theater wouldn't work and that show was cancelled. I wanted to have a good time with this grandchild, so we looked at the displays and then wandered into the gift shop. The toys there were fantastic. Between the two of us, we wanted them all.  

 

Being a person who is amazed at how beautiful rocks are, we ended up looking at the bin that contained a wide variety of different rocks. I started hunting for "Fools Gold," and my grandson started putting in his little leather bag the rocks he wanted to take home. A little girl was examining the rocks in the same display.  

 

Then a man walked up. He was probably in his thirties, slender, had dark hair and for some reason struck me as being just a little different. I really did not pay much attention to him. He, too, started looking at the rocks and commenting on pretty ones he picked up. When he saw I was looking for "Fools Gold," he hunted and found a few pieces, which he gave to me. Then he picked up other rocks, laid them on his hand and encouraged my grandson to take one. Sometimes he did. Other times he didn't.  

 

When our bags were full, we walked away. I needed to pay for them. We were a few feet away and the man who had been looking at the rocks with us said, "Hey, kid, what's your name?" My grandson promptly told him his first name, and we went on. At the time I thought, "He shouldn't give his name." We went on home.

 

I woke up at four o'clock the next morning. In my mind was that whole situation: hunting for the rocks, the man joining us, our walking away as we heard him say, "Hey kid, what's your name?" Now I so clearly remembered several talks where I had lectured in the same symposium with a state attorney general. Each time he had emphasized that whether on the Internet or in public, people should not give out their name or any personal information. He had emphasized that pedophiles can find a youth on the Internet when they have very little information. The attorney general also pointed out that once anybody is on e-mail, instant messages or in chat rooms, that information is in cyber space and therefore available to those who know how to access it. Pictures can be obtained as well. My grandson used e-mail to talk to his mother in Texas.

 

I thought to myself, "That man had no reason to ask for my grandson's name!" I asked myself, "Why did he ask for it?" It just wasn't logical. Now I am scared. Is that man checking out my grandson? I am well aware that although my grandson's mother had talked to him about not talking to strangers and not giving them personal information, he had just done it. After all, the man seemed like a good man. Pedophiles do kind things. It's called "grooming" the youth or child. Then they aren't "strangers." Scary, isn't it? One of the locations parents need to be the most careful of is public places -- like the planetarium -- where children congregate.

 

Best wishes as you teach these facts to your children and grandchildren.

 


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