When I saw this on Facebook it spoke to me in a way that very few of the memes going around do. A simple and true statement recognising the hurt and damaged children who know not how to be loved or indeed love themselves.
A child in need of love is an unhappy human being. The best gift anyone can give their children is that of acceptance and love. Children who have never had a boundary, never had the investment by anyone in their well being and emotional health cannot function in the wider world as well as others that have had this precious gift.
Sometimes those children grow up and become parents themselves, and how can they then bring the skills to their children if they have never been loved themselves? Some confuse sex with love, some control and even violence, I have heard women with bruises say it is only because he loves me, he can’t help his feelings, and they truly think this is right. Perhaps, for them, at that time it is a truth.
The internet is known as a place to look for love, from dating sites to chat rooms, people are connecting with like minded people and finding friendship and new partners. Using social media is the new ‘going out’ and the Saturday night disco or club can in part be replaced by and online world of fun and laughter.
It is not surprising then that teenagers also use the internet to connect with friends. However for those who are vulnerable can see it as a source of love, albeit a fake and dangerous love. On sites such as Ask and Kik, teens pour their hearts out to a common community that cares. Or do they care? Are the best interests of the child, for a teen is still a child, being met by strangers, who often are not all that they seem? What do we, the parents who love the social media world, who click countless memes every day, agreeing to end poverty, to challenge discrimination or to love cats, what do we do about the other side of the internet, the one in which our children are preyed on by those without conscious or fear of threat.
Do we know enough about those who film children to play the images to other children to pretend to be their friend? Do we understand the need for those teens who are so desperate for friendship and acceptance they will find it where ever they can? Do we allow internet access in bedrooms, give smart phones with cameras to vulnerable children and do we ever stop to think?
Perhaps because of my job and my training in Online Exploitation I am in a better place than others to understand the dangers, and I want to tell the world. I want to say that Skype is wonderful for talking to family across the world, but it is also a place full of chat and video links to strangers interested in our children. I want to tell all my social media savvy friends about the roulette chat rooms where children are accessing adult content and being invited to play adult games. Increasingly I am seeing on Facebook a stream of missing children, and I wonder how many of those are seeking love from the world wide web.
I would urge everyone to pay attention to what children are doing, be it on the Xbox, laptop, ipad or phone. Talk to them about the importance of keeping safe, and those who are parents I say, interfere, sit next to you child, be interested, get knowledgeable and lets keep them all safe, happy and unharmed.