By Diann Logan
PROMPT—No one noticed ...
When I was Sweet 16, I had been kissed. I was very busy, dancing to that decadent rock and roll and planning a glamorous extravagant wedding to a Beatle—George was my heart throb. I dreamed and pined but he never called, so I moved on.
At Sweet 16, I was not pursued by an odious pervert via the Internet, because there was no Internet—yet. But, that Sweet 16 girl in the news story last week was easily targeted and stalked with just a few key strokes. He claimed to be a Self-Confidence Life Coach for Girls (Surely that’s a made-up job title?). First though, he would need to see her breasts. She was reluctant, initially covered her breasts with her hands, but eventually acquiesced to his insistence. He assured her that her breasts were lovely, so lovely that he himself would date her. There, there, dear, put your anxiety and worries to rest. The newscaster closed the story, informing us that, “Two weeks later she took her own life.”
Thank goodness the language was softened. Telling us bluntly that she killed herself would be too harsh. It’s less distressing for us to hear that she took her own life. She will never move on.
Softening the language does nothing to soften his criminal deed, can’t conceal his depravity. Of course, authorities fear there may be other victims. I can understand their concern—he coached a girls’ athletic team. Of course, no one noticed who was at the other end of her texting: no parent, no institution, no law enforcement agency saw the flashing red-alert. The perpetrator was only arrested after her death.
Long before we turned Sweet 16, we were warned. Don’t be suckered by a piece of candy into getting into a strange man’s car. If a strange man sits down next to you in the cozy darkness of the movie theater, get up and move and tell the usher. The task of keeping our children out of the clutches of pedophiles is much more daunting now. By the time anyone realized that a code of conduct was needed for the Internet, there was no one to type it up and it was too late. The darkness was already there, entrenched and multiplying at the cyber world’s warp speed.
When I was Sweet 16, one computer was bigger than any of the classrooms I spent my days in. High School guidance counselors were agog at the job possibilities that loomed. “Get into the field,” they urged. “The future belongs to the computer.”
Diann Logan is on faculty at University of Colorado Denver, Department of Communication. Her memoir is on-going. She is the author of The Navel Diaries: How I Lost My Belly Button and Found Myself (Terra Cotta Publishing 2015) and Dear Navel Diary, Are You Listening? (Terra Cotta Publishing 2020). Both are available on her website (diannloganauthor.com) along with Designs in Patchwork, her 1987 book about quilting (Oxmoor House). Diann writes from Arvada, Colorado.