"Dear Parents" | Protecting Your Children

My best friend had just flown into town. I hadn’t seen her in three years and I was thrilled. She told me about Omeagle, a chat with strangers’ website that she goes on all the time with her friends. Of course, we did it. Tons of teens go on it so there was no threat. So, we spoke with strangers. We left the site when one random guy was able to pull up the footage of us three conversations ago. I put tape over my laptop recorder, we were safe. We didn’t think about consequences, but we didn’t meet a trafficker on that site. We were impressionable – we were lucky. You child might not be.

My Snapchat friend’s list lit up. I had requests from people I did and didn’t know. I accepted them all because why not. It’s just Snapchat. The strangers and I would go back and forth – who are you, what school do you go to, how old are you, what’s your name, do we have mutual friends, where do you live/where are you from. I didn’t think anything of it, but in retrospect I gave out all of my information without a second thought. I didn’t meet my trafficker, but your child could’ve.

I sat on my neighbor’s porch, just talking with him while he vaped. He offered, I declined. We kept talking and got on the subject of school and Snapchat. He told me about how he was in a ‘nudes circle’. His friends would screenshot girl’s nudes and send them in the group chat. He jokingly offered to add me. I sat there with a sick feeling in my gut. The photos had the girl’s faces in them. These guys laughed when they spread these pictures, but in them they held power over them. They could easily blackmail these girls for whatever they wanted. As long as the girls got to keep their social acceptance it would be okay, right? I wasn’t in the circle, but your daughter might be.