Social network sites are fun if used properly and safely. However, young people often don’t understand the risks involved. The need to be popular as indicated by numbers of friends can be a pressure. Some young people list and communicate with alleged friends that they don’t know face to face.
Rochelle was a 12-year-old girl who had many friends on a social network site. She starting chatting to a young guy she didn’t know. They chatted regularly for a few weeks. She was growing to like him. They decided to take it a step further. They exchanged mobile numbers and started texting. This continued for another month, then both were keen to meet. They arranged to meet at a local park. Rochelle hadn’t told her parents what she was doing, nor that she intended to meet him.
She waited for her friend to arrive at the designated place. About 15 minutes later a man in his 50s sat on the seat near Rochelle. She didn’t think anything of it until he started talking to her. He moved a little closer and Rochelle started to feel uncomfortable, but she wanted to stay because she was very keen to meet her friend. Eventually, this man said, “How are you, Rochelle?” At this point, Rochelle realised what had occurred. She was terrified and ran. Her youth and fitness were on her side, so she was able to make it home.
She opted to tell her parents what had happened. They acted quickly and called the police who managed to apprehend the child predator. It turns out that he had tried this on three other occasions. The police had been waiting for the right opportunity to apprehend him.
Her Mum encouraged Rochelle to request counselling at school. This traumatic situation had caused her to feel on edge and fearful. She lost concentration at school and started having nightmares and flashbacks. Seeing older men in the street who resembled the offender, was enough for Rochelle to experience triggers leading to anxiety and at times panic.
Rochelle experienced post-traumatic stress symptoms. In counselling, she learnt coping strategies and to use safe practices online. These types of events can take time to overcome. It took many weeks for Rochelle to feel safe again.
If you can relate to this please call me on 027 488 9236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am located in Birkenhead, North Shore, Auckland.