This world is a scary place. So many of you are innocent and trusting, and at the age where you're seeking your indepenence from your parents and/or experimenting with personal relationships on a whole new level. Those are all good qualities as long as you temper them with a healthy dose of caution.
My sixteen-year-old-daughter is pocket-sized. A physical trait that makes her a greater target for sexual predators, simply by virtue of being easier to drag off or carry away. So says Pat Brown, America's top criminal profiler in her book, How To Save Your Daughter's Life. I read it, and I'm sold. Sold on the idea that so many teens and young adults needlessly put themselves at risk every single day.
Sold on the idea that caution is a good thing. Sold on the idea that you need to understand the nuances of relationships before you can ever protect yourself from the hidden dangers they may carry.
But, don't trust me. Trust an author who read through real-life transcripts of a cyber-victim's chat and wrote about them just for you. If you've not heard of Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman, I suggest you track down a copy now.
What's it about? When Abby meets Luke, she's feeling pretty punky about her life. Her best friend seems to be slipping away and her parents are more concerned about her grades than her social life. Online, Luke recognizes her need for friendship and cultivates a dangerous level of trust within Abby. He gets her. He cares about her. He wants to make her happy.
He wants to make himself happy.
Told in three parts, Want to Go Private? follows Abby's terrifying journey of trusting the wrong guy for all the wrong reasons, and the consequences of her misplaced trust.
This is a gut-wrenching story of a sexual predator stalking his victims online. It's a wake-up call to teens and young adults to understand the yearning within themselves and how easy it really is to fall victim to an experienced predator. Like Abby, I'm sure you're shaking your head and saying, "Not me. I know better. I would never."
Well, guess what? She said all those things, too. She was a good kid who got manipulated. And so can you.
It was a hard book to read. At times I wanted to vomit. I wanted to reach through the pages and smack Abby upside the head for being so stupid. I wanted to shake her and hug her and tell her she'd be okay. Just please, please, please stop making mistakes.
And I ask of you, teen readers, please, please, please read this novel. It just may save your life.