Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman
July 30th 2013, Scholastic Inc
Right from the authors dedication at the beginning of the book I was hooked.
“To the dedicated men and women of the law-enforcement community who face ugliness every day in the effort to keep our kids safe”
Yes, Thank God for them. I can’t even imagine the horrible things they have to look at every day. The dedicated men and women who not only put their lives but also their sanity on the line for us. Plus anyone else that helps children either by intervening before something happens or taking care of them after something has happened. Nurses, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Teachers, Social workers, public speakers on Internet safety the list goes on. And to the dedicated parents who are trying their best to protect their children.
Abby is 14 years old and about to start high school. She doesn’t want her friendship with her best friend to change because they won’t be in the same classes. She feels like she doesn’t fit in. Abby thinks her parents want her to be perfect and feels sometimes like they don’t love her for who she is. To her it feels like everyone is always telling her to do her hair or make up “to make an effort”. She just wants things to stay the same and feels like no one understands her.
Then she meets Luke online. HE understands her. He agrees that her parents are too hard on her and that her best friend should be paying more attention to her. She feels like Luke is the only one who truly gets her. When Luke tells her that he’s older than her, at first she is nervous, but he helps alleviate all those fears. Saying things like boys her age would never understand her…. But he does.
Abby has had those Internet safety talks at school and she knows that he could be some 50-year-old dude in the basement somewhere, but she figures it’s not like she’s ever going to meet him.
However, soon Luke is all that Abby can think about. She’s his girl. And after a particularly bad fight with her parents, Luke asks her to meet him and Abby decides to go….
Teenagers are impulsive. They still have that “it will never happen to me” thinking. Maybe not every single teenager would make some of the decisions that Abby made, but some would. Predators are experts, they know what they’re looking for, they know how to talk, and especially how to “groom”.
Although it may seem that things move fast in the book, teenagers really do move that fast sometimes. Their brains have not stopped growing and they don’t always think things through. They are living in a world that many of the adults I know don’t understand (all I have to do is look on Facebook).
Even though they may have had Internet safety talks at school there still needs to be more education.
I have a teenage daughter and some of the things she tells me blows my mind. I feel lucky that she is so open with me (and I really hope that never changes). But she’s still a teenager, I’ve seen some of the impulsive things she’s done. For example posting something without really thinking it through and immediately regretting it. She’s not going to be perfect. It’s not realistic of me to think that she would be.
As parents it’s hard for us to keep up with everything out there. We may think we’re doing a good thing by not allowing our children to have a Facebook account or if they have one to monitor it. And yes I think monitoring is very important. But Facebook is now considered old school and I’ve been told that teens know to be very careful on there because their parents check it. But we have Instagram, Snapchat, askFM, and so many new social media sites popping up every day that parents know nothing about. Unfortunately, it would be very hard to live in a completely social media and Internet free world now. I’ve seen children posting their cell phone numbers on public social media quite often. They think because cell phones are not listed that it’s safe to do.
But again it just goes to that teenage brain. Not all of them are going to make poor decisions online. But considering how much of this stuff is still happening we need books like this plus more education, open dialogue between teenagers and parents etc.
Because there’s no way now that we can keep our children completely off-line. Our teens are going to speak to people online. We just have to work harder at educating them to hopefully make better decisions.
This book is scary but it’s important. Because things like this are happening. I felt like it was a realistic portrayal of a teenage girl in many ways. I may not have liked everything about the book but, I’m really glad I read it.