The following blog post is an invasion of privacy, but needs to happen. The child featured is very much loved, and we are relieved that she is safe.
No one ever thinks it will happen to them. But it did. 12 year-old Princess was being groomed online by an adult male. It was TWO YEARS in the making.
They met in a video game that can be played online. It probably started with Webkinz and the idea that we can chat with other stuffed animal owners online. Grrr...
"I'm sending you ten units of coal--I have extra."
"Oh, thanks! I'll give you one of my cows."
No one gave out identifying information. Everything was innocent. He was her age, after all. He was really nice.
Everything happened slowly and incrementally. But she started feeling sneaky, and that's a turning point.
Then, a friend introduced Princess to a My Little Pony fan site, where she could post her stories and read others' writing. So fun! And, validating! After all, everyone is anonymous, and REAL PEOPLE were liking and following her writings!
But to be anonymous, Princess had to open a new, "untraceable" e-mail account. And be a little more sneaky.
Meanwhile, the online friend turned out to be a Bronie, and also loved her writing! Amazing. So she invited and friended him on that site, too. And he became a follower. Again. (One of 123 followers! Can you taste the bile, yet?)
It was a really good thing that he did, because Princess would then save his life when he was suicidal. On the roof. With a gun in his mouth. By the way, my name is Sean. You saved my life.
Because a 12 year-old brain can handle all of this drama, and won't lose site of the fact that IT'S NOT REAL. Also, now we have a strong friendship, and a really strong emotional bond. And each others' names. (Oh, yes. She did.) And not only are you an amazing writer, but you saved my life. Let's go somewhere private--let's start a hangout.
(Also, there was enough identifying information on the My Little Pony page, that a fellow Mormon started sending her uplifting messages and links. Oh, dear.)
So, meanwhile, on the private Hangout, Sean's friends started showing up. And their friends. So many Bronies! (Sorry, men. From now on, Brony means Pedophile to me. Because if you are a grown man, on a My Little Pony fanpage, you are a pedophile. Harsh, yes. Sorry, Bro (ny).) Some that she mentioned were Nathan, Sean, Icy the Charmander, Firey the Trico, Vapor, and Forchan.
And here's where Mom comes in. Mom is really, really slow, so God is patient with her. She feels prompted to take away the Nook--even though Princess is just reading her scriptures on it!
But a few days later, Mom can't logically think of a reason to keep the nook, and it helps Princess to sleep if she's listening to music, so she stupidly gives it back. I'm embarrassed to say that this happens about 3 times over a span of about 4 months, before Mom is smart enough to give the *%&$ Nook to Daddy (computer programmer) to check the history.
Also, Mom and Dad turn the internet off every night as they go to be so that things like this can't happen. Except when the forget. Also, did I mention that quite a lot of this actually went on at school, on their secure web site?
So, just before 12 year-old (23, really) "Sean" decided to announce that he just transferred to Princesses school, and wants to meet at the corner gas station, so tell your mom you're walking home, Princess gets the plug pulled.
But before anyone can pull any plugs, first Princess has to lie several times, in several ways, to her parents. She won't admit anything until presented with hard evidence, which we have. (In her defense, things got so big so fast, she was painted into a corner and just didn't want to tell.)
And Princess finally "Ponies up" (forgive the pun. It's really not funny.) and Mom and Dad find out a little more about how deep these roots go. And they actually have no idea how much to believe, because of the whole lying thing. But they write down web addresses, and passwords. And they do it all with love, and without shame, because this is a life they are trying to save. A twelve-year old life.
Also, in her defense, she didn't read any of the articles rated OVER 15. WHAT!?! (On a My Little Pony Fan Page. Her frontal lobe is just not developed.)
And they try to explain to the Princess about growth and development. When 3 year-old tries to fly off a cliff in his batman suit, and the parents yank him back, it feels like they are taking away his freedom. But they can see the dangers, even when he can't. Then, his parents, who love him, teach him about aviation, and as he learns and grows (and realized that Batman can't even fly, and he can't fly, even if he has the appropriate cape) they help him to channel his passion for flight in a safe way, so that as an adult he can become a pilot if he's still interested in flying.
And this wonderfully gifted, artistic, creative, delightful girl has to trust. She has to somehow get the idea that her parents love her and care about her and are trying to keep her safe, not destroy her fame, or fun, or remove her freedom.
She has to somehow have enough experiences with her loving Heavenly Father, so that she can really know who she is, and how precious she is to Him, so that she can bless the world with the talents that He gave her, without needing the approval of anyone else. And then she will fly, and maybe help others to fly also. She will fly with a purpose and a destination in sight.
Ultimately, even if she never has access to the Nook again, and trust me, she doesn't; and even if all of her electronic activities are monitored at home, she can do whatever she wants. SHE has to decide, because she has access at school, and in a friend's home, and anywhere else she goes.
And, now what?
And using those passwords and "Hangout Site", Mom and Dad find enough muck to make one want to throw up all over. And one of the final things Princess says is, "I can't wait to meet you."
And every other word that Icy says is the F bomb.
So Mom goes to her "Standing" therapy session and finds out that if a pedophile is looking for little girls he/she will go to My Little Pony, and if looking for little boys, Star Wars.
We also get specifics about who to call. And they come and take the Nook, and download info from the computers, and take the cell phone.
I never reposted this, and many of the things I thought turned out to be different, but I'm including it in the book, right or wrong. My book.