About a month or so ago the rumors began to fly about Facebook and its operators possibly lowering the age limit to use the social media behemoth.
Currently you must be at least 13-years-old to have a Facebook account. However as we all know there are probably millions of kids out there on Facebook who simply fudge their age in order to gain access to peoples’ personal lives, their photos, statuses, updates – you name it.
Sometimes parents know it and monitor it – reluctantly – and sometimes parents have no clue and realll could care less. And that’s when the trouble starts.
In my own house, I learned that you need to be on your game with your kids each and every minute. That is, unless you’re prepared for trouble.
Take the care of a Linfield, Montgomery County man. Charles Anthony Petiet, 21, faces 31/2 to 8 years in state prison for having sex with a 14-year-old girl he met on Facebook earlier this year. He pleaded guilty Friday before Chester County Court Judge Jacqueline C. Cody to charges of aggravated indecent assault, statutory sexual assault, luring a child into a car and corruption of minors.
Petiet was apprehended by East Coventry police after being lured to the victim’s home by her father, who suspected they were having improper relations.
The victim said that the pair had met in Pottstown after connecting through Facebook, and that they had gone to her home on Jan. 25 and had sex in the family’s basement. She said that Petiet had also fondled her, and that he had driven her from the house to a Wawa without her parent’s permission – hence the luring charge. The victim is an East Coventry resident.
Not that I am blaming this young girl’s father for what happened. First, kids are very resourceful when they want to do what they want to do and second, criminals looking for young victims are also very resourceful.
Back to the Facebook part of this.
No matter that mode of social media, we parents must be on our toes 24/7. Last summer my daughter met a young man on Facebook (after a separate meeting at her former place of employment) and arranged a trip to a local ice cream shop.
She was 17 at the time. In what seemed a blink of an eye, she and a visiting girlfriend seemed to have vanished. It didn’t take long for me to sniff out something was not right. I called her on her cellphone, found out where she was and in less than five minutes picked her and her friend and brought them back home.
As for the young man, I made her call him on the found with me shouting in the background and warned him that if he ever called her again, the cops would be the next phone call. Needless to say neither my daughter nor the young man was particularly happy. My feelings? Too bad. And she’s never pulled a stunt like that since.
However some kids aren’t that “lucky”. They get themselves into situations that they can’t handle.
And we as parents need to stop blaming the people who dreamed up things like Facebook and take a look in the mirror. It’s our duty to be a royal pain to our kids. Ask questions. All the time. My kids hate it – and I really don’t care.
I have two older sons as well as a younger son. Even the older ones get quizzed. Unfortunately this is our world. But as long as we’re content to just shrug our shoulders or stick our heads in the sand we’re gambling with their safety.
This isn’t an all-out panic button but it’s just as silly to think things like this don’t happen. Ask the dad of East Coventry girl. Now I probably overreacted with my daughter. The kid probably meant no harm but one never knows.
My rules are where are you going? Who are you going with? Where are the parents? Where do you know the person from? And if you can’t follow the rules and answer the questions? You’re not going anywhere.
I never thought I’d be more strict than my dad was. I guess I was wrong. But at least at the end of the day I know my kids (hopefully) are safe. I can’t protect them from everything but I will go down trying.
– Andy Hachadorian