These are the stories that make me want to shake every single parent that I know and scream WAKE UP!!
Nichole Cable was a lovely 15 year old from Maine. The night before she was abducted and murdered, Nichole complained to her boyfriend that a man named Kyle Dube groped and physically assaulted her. She was able to get away.
But here’s what she didn’t know. Kyle Dube created a fake Facebook account and had been communicating with Nichole under a different name. Nichole did NOT know that the man she thought she was communicating on Facebook was actually Kyle Dube.
Nichole unwittingly set a date and time to meet Dube’s alter ego at the end of the driveway of her own home. Apparently this “other person” promised Nichole free marijuana. Nichole walked down to the end of the driveway where Dube jumped out of the woods wearing a mask.
Nichole didn’t make it out alive. Soul achingly sad.
Wake up parents of tweens and teens
We have no idea what this poor child’s parents are going through. We have no idea if they warned this lovely young woman about risky online behaviors. The point is moot. She’s gone. But we have the opportunity, as parents, to learn from this story- right here, right now.
In the 10 years I’ve taught Internet Safety to parents, children, and school districts I’ve explained the risks ad nauseum. Some kids get it – some parents get it – some schools get it. A great many do not let it sink in: this can be you, this IS you.
So what can YOU do to keep your children and families safe?
- get educated so you can educate your children
- tell your children (until your tongue falls out) that they should NEVER EVER EVER meet someone in person who they have only met online because you have NO IDEA who you are really speaking with. Terribly sad case in point
- children should NEVER give out their personal information online (location, age, school district, etc)
- and the most obvious: children should NEVER “friend” someone online who they don’t know in real life
Say it, say it again, and then repeat.
If you feel like a CD stuck on repeat, then you’ll be doing this the right way. We’ve given children devices and walked away. We’ve assumed that a 15 year old girl (or 10 year old boy, or 19 year old woman) will have the sense to not be gullible or stupid.
They can’t – they don’t have the life experience to discern risky from cool, or skeptical from impolite.
The worst part about this story is that it is not the first and certainly will not be the last. Criminals and those who wish to do us harm will use whatever tools are at their disposal to carry out their plans. We have to be smart enough to be on the defensive and teach our children how to do the same.
Jesse "Big Mama" Weinberger is an Internet Safety Speaker for schools, the host of the Internet Safety Podcast: Big Mama's House Podcast, and the author of The Boogeyman Exists: And He’s In Your Child’s Back Pocket; a guide for parents and educators on how to keep children safe in a 24-7 always connected digital society. Learn more about how to keep your children safe online. She has been teaching parents, schools, and students how to navigate online and mobile risks since 2003. Jesse is available for internet safety presentations to schools, parents, students, and organizations all over the United States.