Times of Youth

Harmless New Friendship Or A Deadly Mistake?

Picture this now. A guy sends you a friend request. You don’t know him, but he’s got a cute profile picture, so you accept his friend request, just for the sake of curiosity and harmless fun.

Today is your baby girl’s first day of school! She looks so cute in her new outfit that you just have to take a picture and put it on Facebook so all your friends and family can see. Just a normal routine for you.

You’re so excited dropping her off that you “check in” to her school on Facebook saying, “I can’t believe how big she’s become so soon. Time surely flies. Today I’m a proud mommy/daddy!”

Meanwhile, the new mystery boy in your friend list, whose friend request you had hurriedly accepted earlier this morning, is saving that picture that you posted of your daughter in her cute new dress to his phone and texting it to several other grown men across the world with the caption-
“Indian female for SALE. Age 5. Brown hair,black eyes. Rs.70,000/-.”

Now, sit back and think, not only did you provide a picture of your little girl to this child trafficker, but also you’ve handed him the name and exact location of her school on a silver cyber platter (Remember you had ‘checked in’ while posting the image.)

Now, you go to pick her up at 3:00 the same afternoon, but she’s nowhere to be found. Little do you know, your precious baby girl was already ‘sold’ and is en-route to some pedophile who ‘bought’ her before you even stepped foot off campus this morning. So now she’s on her way to South Africa with a bag over her head, confused, terrified and crying because a man she’s never seen before picked her up from school, and now she doesn’t know where her parents are, where she’s going, or what’s gonna happen to her or will she even live to see her parents any day in future!

Now, snap back to reality! Did you realize that this was just a scenario which is very easily possible to happen? Do you now understand the gravity of its consequences for you and your precious loved ones? And this, my dear friends, is not just a hypothetical case. There may be many other possibilities that can happen which have the utmost potential to ruin someone’s otherwise happy lives. They may even have happened to many by the time we realized!

Take home message- No matter what or why you would like to share stuff with your beloved family, friends and relatives, (even with the privacy settings turned on because you never know who hacks your account and when) there is no reason whatsoever to add strangers to friend list on any social networking websites. Avoid keeping children’s images as profile pictures. You are only jeopardizing someone’s life unintentionally. So stop adding strangers to friend lists And STOP posting everything about your life on Facebook, etc. The power is in your hands, so use it well!

This message needs to be shared for the sake of enlightenment and safety all kids and parents. Its for the best of all!

Dr. Aafreen Kotadiya
MGM University