Dear Parents, this topic is meant especially for you.

It is about a problem that is becoming very serious for those who have children that have computers of their own, especially if the child has the computer in the privacy of their own personal room.

It is a call to awareness of a very dangerous and growing problem…..

Exploitation through the internet, using it to lure our youth into some very dangerous, and sadly, sometimes fatal, actions through the use of flattery, romancing, and false promises.

This is an extremely serious situation that the parents of the world need to become aware of and begin taking action on.

I actually knew a family when I was younger that lost their only child to an internet con artist. The person the child was fooled into trusting was a pedophile, and a murderer.

But perhaps the saddest part about the child’s story is that the parents only gave him the computer to keep him out of their hair, for they liked to party and the child was a burden.

They did not pay attention to the child’s activities or behavior, so they did not notice when he began to change, becoming secretive, slowly ceasing contact with his friends, and spending more and more time in his room with his eyes glued to the computer screen.

The parents paid no notice to any of this, but since I babysat the child sometimes, I noticed something odd about his behavior, even with me and with the family I was working for as a governess. The little boy was friends with the oldest of the three children I cared for.

Only once did I try to bring the boys gradually growing aloofness to his parents attention, only to be told to mind my own business. To this day I wish I had have said more.

I am a writer, and I wrote a story based on that incident. A simpler version of this introduction and the story that follows, somewhat modified, is posted on several of the sites on Zorpia. The story that was a result of the memory of what happened to that young boy that I took care of for that short time was the inspiration for the following story, which, appropriately enough, is called

A Dangerous Game

Melinda was fifteen, and she was one very happy young lady. Her parents had finally gotten her the computer she had been pestering them to get her for absolute ages. She had never been happier, for she had the one thing now that she wanted the most.

Now Melinda was a sweet natured, intelligent girl, with many friends. She did very well in school, and was never any trouble to her parents, which was good in a way, for they did not really pay very close attention to their daughter, due to the fact they both worked high stress jobs and like to party on the weekend to relax.

This in a way was one of the main factors that led to them getting the computer for their daughter, it kept her out of their hair. Though no one knew it, Melinda, despite coming from a fairly well to do family, was a very lonely young girl due to her parents attitudes and the fact that she was an only child.

And it was this loneliness that was to prove to be the cause of some very sad occurrences.

Melinda began to turn to her computer more and more for comfort in her loneliness. As she became more caught up in the suddenly wide availability of contact and possible companionship, a change began to slowly occur.

As time passed she began to drift further and further away from her friends in the real world, losing interest in activities that before she had enjoyed, and her grades began to fall. But her parents were blind to it all.

Then one day Melinda got a tag from what appeared to be a boy about her age that said he lived in her town and attended her school. The ”boy” said he had gotten her e-mail address from one of her friends.

Slowly Melinda and the ”boy” grew closer, graduating from friendship talk to where they began to express growing feelings for each other. But something was not right, though she never really paid attention to the fact…

And that was that it seemed that every time she would mention possibly hooking up at school, the “boy” always seemed to have some form of excuse.

But by now Melinda was so enamored that she was blind to rational thought. This continued for many months after Melinda’s parents gave her the computer. Life went on and time passed.

Then one day the parents got a call from their daughter’s school…..she had not been in school in over a week. Not really paying much attention to the matter, thinking that their daughter was just going through a teenage phase, the parents spoke to their daughter, accepted her explanations, and life went on.

More time passed, and Melinda drifted deeper and deeper into a world which revolved around her computer. Though they received no more calls from the school that Melinda was not there, the parents failed to notice that her grades were falling drastically.

Then one Friday Melinda did not come home from school.

Nor did she appear during anytime that weekend.

Her parents merely assumed she had decided to spend the weekend with a friend and did not become too concerned. But by Monday night, after receiving a call from the school that their daughter had not only not been there that day…

But that she had missed the previous Friday as well.

The parents finally began to worry…..where could their daughter be? It was not like her to behave like this.

A couple of more days passed, and still no sign of their daughter. By now the parents were becoming frantic. Then the father, who worked for a company debugging and investigating computer systems, happened to think back to how much time his daughter had been spending with her computer.

Not really understand why, he was compelled to take her computer to work, and he began to tear down the records and files on it.

What he found both shocked and horrified him. It appeared that the ”boy” his daughter had been communicating with, once traced down through data trails and message information, was actually a known and recorded child molester, and even worse…

His current location was shown to be mere blocks from their home!

Alarmed, the father contacted the authorities and they went to the mans home. The authorities found Melinda’s naked body in a shallow grave behind a tool shed in the mans back yard. She had been strangled to death.

The man was arrested, but this was cold comfort to the parents, for they realized too late that if they had paid more attention to their daughter, she would not have turned to other sources for affection and attention.

Their daughter had reached out in desperation for love…

And found an internet con artist, skilled in deception. Melinda’s trust, and her need for affection had had tragic results.

Parents, though this story is fictitious, and the events portrayed involved no real people in the sense of the story itself…

But in the sense of the world we live in, it is, sadly and horrifyingly real.

At least one child out of every ten that owns a computer around the world falls victim to these vicious animals at least once a day.

Parent’s, please, I implore you, if your child owns a computer, especially one that is in the privacy of their room, monitor them. Watch their behavior.

Are their grades falling?

Are they suddenly showing no interest in spending time with friends?

Are they spending less time with the family than normal?

Are they spending more and more time secluded in their rooms, their glazed eyes glued to the computer screen?

And do they make hasty moves to clear the screen if you should happen to come into the room unannounced?

All of these could be signs of trouble.

Your children are your responsibility. It is your job to protect them.

And con artist’s do not only attack and target the young. More than one home has been broken beyond repair by so called ”internet romances”.

Age plays no factor in gullibility in this case.

These con artists are a very real, very present danger.

They are not a monster in the closet or a boogey man under the bed, able to be defeated with a few kind words and a night light.

These demons are very definitely real and very definitely dangerous. So please people, be careful.

a romance scam victim speaking out

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About MARANTHA DREAMWEAVER JENELLE

WRITER'S USE WORDS TO PAINT PICTURES ON THE CANVASES OF THEIR READER'S MINDS. marantha d. jenelle/aka 'maradjen'

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