The More You Know, A PSA For Parents

Discussion in 'Fiddleback Forge Knives' started by B Griffin, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I haven't been around asd much as I'd like lately. My life has been really hectic and intense since May, after losing more than 75% of my income in March, and having to get creative just to keep the ends meeting. So having had my hands full chasing work more than doing work, just trying to keep the bills paid and the cupboard not bare, sometimes things have slipped a little. The following is a slipping that caught me completely off guard in a bad way.

    I am an artist who uses social media to show my art. My oldest daughter who is 26 does the same. My youngest struggles a little with autism, not severely but has some slight learning challenges and comprehension issues, and at 15 has less experience with social media than some 10 yr olds I know. Because I have been trying to ease her into the internet because of her taking things so literally. She wanted a way to show off her drawing and gacha edits and talk to other kids, because she's been bored and lonely with no school going on and missing her friends. So I let her have an IG account with strict rules. No pics of her, and no PMs with strangers. Made the account private and told her to just add her family and friends she knows personally from school. And then I monitored it very closely at first and all was going fine. But then our financial world got rocked hard and it took all i had to keep us going through it. I got busier after the bio war started and I guess she got lonelier. So she made her account public to try to find some of her friends from school and I didn't know.

    But I soon noticed a change in her behavior. She was sneaking and doing IG at night. So I thought she was just doing the typical teen things and grounded her from it for a while. She got a little upset but wouldn't say why, and chilled out some within a few days. Then she went to stay at her mom's a while because it's summer, and she downloaded IG again there, and started the same addictive behavior, which was what got her caught and she had Tik Tok and IG. So her mother took her phone and grounded her from it again for directly disobeying both of us about the IG, and just summarily deleted the accounts. At that time Alayna was very upset and crying. She said her friends were going to die if she wasn't there to talk to them. Having a hard time imagining that being a serious thing...friends...dying...because she didn't answer? Surely it's just teen drama right?

    She didn't elaborate so I didn't put any more thought into it. I went back to trying to keep us fed, vehicled, and sheltered. But over that time period Alayna would hardly eat and hardly laughed and we chalked it up to just loneliness from this bio war shutting everything down and isolating everyone and her youth group shutting down except for virtual, and tried to find ways to cheer her up hanging out with her every minute I could. Some worked a little but none worked much. It was very depressing seeing her go from always laughing and happy and moving and hungry, to being quiet and subdued and somber, and almost never eating all the food on her plate anymore and saying she wasn't hungry when i'd ask her what she wanted for lunch. I had started to think someone from school had been picking on her over her weight or something, but she's not over weight so that didn't make any sense. So I just kept trying to talk to her and make her happier again somehow.

    About two months went by and I wanted her to be able to message me on messenger while we were out if we got separated for any reason. So I asked her if she could behave and stay out of IG and Tik Tok. She said she would for sure so we gave it a shot. A few weeks later she got busted having IG again. And once again went into the "my friends are going to die!!" Crying and shaking. It was late, so I sent her to bed and then I laid in my bed scrolling through her PMs to try to make sense of this, and what I found totally caught me off guard. I didn't even know this could be a thing.

    Out of the 30 or 40 message streams there were several wanting her to send a pic of her leg or her arm or something, and she would just ignore those. But there were 8 or 10 where the person on the other side of the screen was saying things like; (talking about things way over Alayna head sexuality wise) "don't tell your parents because they'll tell my parents and I'll get in trouble" then later things like "you're abandoning me aren't you, you're not answering fast enough, I'm going to cut myself and it's all your fault." Or "hey where are you?" I guess you've left me so I'm going to kill myself now and it's your fault." And sometimes her replies went something like hey come back!! Please!! Don't do it, I didn't mean to abandon you!! I'm here I promise I just had chores to do!! Please come back!! And the person never responded again.

    Or they would be telling her they were sitting there cutting themselves and it was all her fault, and she would be saying "please don't do this! It's okay, you don't have to do this!! I'm not abandoning you!! Please stop this hurts so much!! Please don't!! And they would be telling her she should be a better person and respond faster when they messaged her. I read through all of them, it was horrible. It reminded me of some of the things I've read on Chinese brainwashing techniques. It put the "my friends are going to die" in a whole new light. My heart would shatter ever time I found where I knew her heart was breaking and that she was likely crying her eyes out in the middle of the night.

    So, having a better understanding of things. I sat her down and had a long talk the next morning, and told her that I wasn't sure what was up, I had never heard of anything like that craziness in all my time on social media, but that not to worry it wasn't real. Either it was just some cruel jerks playing twisted sick pranks, or just some sick person/people preying on young minds. But either way there weren't a bunch of kids out there cutting themselves and killing themselves because she didn't answer. She said "really?" I said yes. She said "Really really?" and I said yes sweetheart I promise (because either way it wasn't her fault if they had, but I don't believe they did) and she just collapsed into my lap, and said "oh thank god" and went limp and just laid there. She wasn't just being willfully disobedient, she had spent the last several weeks trying, on her own, to figure out how she had been responsible for all those kids hurting themselves, and was struggling with the guilt of that and believing she was somehow maybe responsible for the deaths of 6 other kids because she didn't answer fast enough, and trying to keep from being responsible for anymore of them.

    There really are some messed up people in the world. If I give her another smart phone between now and the time she turns 18, I will be very vigilant, as in like checking it three or four times a day. My frinds who work in special ed say they want to get the schools going again because though the media won't share it, middle schoolers and highschoolers are committing suicide at an alarming rate right now due to the isolation. I can't help but wonder how many of them may have taken their own lives because they thought they were responsible for multiple other children committing suicide and couldn't live with the guilt. It's a really scare thought that just shatters my heart that much more.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
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  2. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 1, 2013
    I’m glad your daughter is alright!
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  3. Perthjim


    Mar 8, 2016
    Hi buddy,
    Just wanted to say thank you. I too have a daughter with special needs. I know the fear of someone taking advantage of the vulnerable. Your words of warning really hit home. Thank you for putting yourself out there with such an honest, clear, heartfelt post. Your family is in great hands, we all stumble along as parents but the way you communicated with love and respect shows the path. Well done.
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  4. madhatta

    madhatta Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2003
    Ugh. I cannot imagine this Brian. Good on you for being vigilant and getting to the bottom of it. We tell ourselves we have seen and dealt with most everything, then something disturbing like this comes at you. Whenever we tell ourselves, not much else can happen in this world to really shock us, something comes along to make you eat those words. Best of luck with everything.
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  5. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thank you Laurence, me too!

    Thank you. She isn't as severely challenged as some, she just has some comprehension issues. But combined with her having been a bit sheltered and her still being young-minded and innocent-thinking, it obviously left her vulnerable to the machinations of those who would manipulate her. That was the recent realization. She's like me, or rather more like I was at her age. And in seeing in the world what she carries in her heart, without having the knowledge that there are some very bad people in our world to balance with and contrast those thoughts against, caused her to inadvertently expose that weakness to the wrong sort of people. I was already aware that some kids can do some mean things, we've encountered that in school over the years just like any other child and parents. It's why here audience was supposed to be limited in the first place. And it's obvious just looking around that we have people weaponizing fear hopelessness and despair on a lot of levels to profit from it in various ways. I just hadn't yet realized that things have deteriorated to this level.

    I took her phone over a week ago and didn't delete the accounts this time. I have been monitoring those streams and sharing the information with friends in different fields who work with children, but the "people" on the other end of those accounts do not know that. So they are still saying some of those same things, and I'm just letting them go on and see what all they will say.
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  6. PheonixKingZ

    PheonixKingZ Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 9, 2020
    That is very very sad. There are some sick and twisted people in this world. Glad your daughter is ok though. :)
    B Griffin likes this.
  7. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thanks man. And yes, I know there are some very bad people in our world. Some of them are responsible for the education I have in the subject matter I've been writing about for the last 20 years. But I would have just never imagined the level of narcissism and cruelty existed for someone to be able to do to another person what I saw in those messages. From the vocabularies used and levels of understanding of psychology some of them exhibited, I will always believe some of them are adults, and I hope I can help them get what they deserve. I'm glad for my soul's sake, and for my daughter's sake in general, that I do not know who they are and how to find them. I've never been more acutely aware of how bad my daughter needs me than I have been since that night.

    Thanks man, so am I. That whole ordeal just blows my mind. Clearly things have taken some turns for the surreal and there are some very messed up people in our world these days.
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  8. PirateSeulb


    Jun 6, 2017
    Wonderful story I think highlights the complex nature of online interactions and parenting. There is a fine line in freedom and control that as a parent you must walk cautiously and it is really a lot more about educating than control. I will admit I have spent years online and many of those years I have spent as a forum troll, myspace was brand new in those days so forums were the social media, I would never go so far as those people and make various threats. The people doing those things are mentally unhinged particularly if they had any clue to what kind of person they were talking to. I want to say that @B Griffin you handled this very well and am glad for you and hope the best for you and your family.
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  9. bmc352

    bmc352 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 8, 2010
    Thank you for posting this. We have two young boys and have struggled with how to introduce cell phones and social media. We are holding off as long as we can.
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  10. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thank you. I agree. We do have to walk the high wire of...or play jump rope with, the fine line between protecting them, and giving them room to make mistakes and learn some harsh lessons before finding themselves on their own in what can at times be a hard world. And one that currently shows little hope of major improvements any time soon. There is a lot to prepare them for, but how much and how soon can be a struggle of the lesser of evils. I guess most of us are probably guilty of at least a little trolling on the forums. Some people just make it hard to resist with some of the things they say out loud, and when we're young it's even harder. But I don't see what these people doing as the normal sort of trolling. It's not just kids being mean. I've studied psychology and sociology for decades just because of trying to understand my own PTS issues and some of my veteran family and friends. Some of what I read in these messages is an intentional attempt to do intense and/or long term psychological damage. I hope they are caught and brought to justice.
  11. PirateSeulb


    Jun 6, 2017
    I agree we are all guilty of it at some time to varying degrees and with age often comes wisdom and one of the wisest things anyone can often do is stay silent. I only label what they did trolling as there really is a lack of terms to accurately define it and it would fall into cyber bullying I would imagine but that is a broad term that to me isn't clearly defined either and can to my knowledge included being trolled.

    I certainly have some respect for your situation @B Griffin as my girlfriend has a son who is still young, not a teen yet, but it seems many children have phones and access to social media as early as 8-10yrs old. It is also about indirect exposure too and when you become a parental type figure for someone you know that you must educated them on what they hear and what they see.
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  12. lmalterna

    lmalterna Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 12, 2002
    There is a special place in Hel for those who prey on children.

    She is lucky that you have her back.

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  13. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I understand what you mean, and I agree. It's hard to define. I see them as trolling terrorism I guess. I would have never imagined someone would do something like that. I know how good we humans can be, I'm well aware of that and never really surprised by people's good deeds, but having seen horror face to face and thinking I've seen the worst, I'm always surprised when I find a new low.

    Thank you. Yes we have lots of people who target children in lots of ways, and lot of people who aren't parents who don't think about their words or actions around the young and impressionable. We do have to be vigilant, clearly, but knowledge is ever a two-edged sword. Sometimes it's like walking a tight rope through an airborne mind field, in just trying to teach them things they need to know and managing to do it at a time when they're old enough to process it in a way that it does more good than harm.

    I really do hope so Bill, some people deserve one. Most of her life I've tried to have her back better than I have had it lately. But between the Mayor here killing the businesses I was working with and causing me to lose so much of my income, I spend so much time chasing income it keeps me both preoccupied and stressed out. And doing some rather intense photography work lately, barely above pro bono, for some friends who desperately need a type of help I'm rather uniquely qualified to give them, keeps my head full. But I'll certainly be more vigilant from now on.
  14. Toppcats

    Toppcats Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 13, 2019
    This may be the most important post I've read, and felt a need to form a response to, in this forum. I've also taken several days timewise trying to formulate a good overall response. First off, @B Griffin I'm glad Alayna is doing OK. Second, Kudos to you for recognizing her behavior change and getting, hopefully to the heart of the issue with her.
    I'm probably a bit older than many here in this forum (early 60's ) with a background in physiological and behavioral psychology (though that is not my primary focus in my current profession - which is within the medical field).
    At one point my wife and I bought a new television and DVD system - deliberately, the following morning our 5 year old found himself in front of this new system along with several new and unfamiliar remote controls. Within 30 minutes, he had them figured out. Seeing this, I remarked to my wife, 'when I was 5 - I ate dirt'. Perhaps if similarly confronted at age 5, my personal outcome would have been similar - but my world at age 5 was simply different. Just as our parents before us, each subsequent generation is facing, imho, an increasingly complex, and unfortunately, a more disordered and violent world. Each day sees more and more choices in every facet of life to the point where making a single simple decision can become dizzying even to those of us that think we have it all together.
    As a young teen, I was good in sports but I was also tall, skinny, into music and theater, and found myself being bullied. In my world at that time, there was no counseling for this - no school, public or private intervention available. Initially, I withdrew from school and after a week I realized I had to go back. I started with a martial arts program and spoke with 2 teachers, I sort of trusted at that point, privately to let them know what was going on. From that point on my world changed. On my first day back to school I had a rope 'noose' placed around my neck on the school bus ride to school. Upon arriving at school grounds and getting off the bus, I knocked the kids head that did this into the ground (far from would have been my usual response). While sitting in the principals' office, one of the above mentioned teachers arrived. I explained what happened and this teacher then asked the principal if he would allow him to handle this matter (fighting on school grounds was usually handled with automatic suspension). The principal agreed. My parents and the other students parents were called in - both were told what occurred. Three options were given - 1) a boxing match would be set up for the 2 of us to go at it (this teacher I should mention was a phys. ed teacher and my soccer coach) 2) both sides would let what happened end here and we would steer clear of each other. 3) Both of us could file a complaint and in the interim we would have mandatory 14 day school suspensions imposed. Both of our parents opted for choice #2. All of the above though is NOT what is or was important. The critical thing missing which was - and remained - a problem for me to reconcile is that my parents were never really ever involved, except at the end. In my world at that time - you completed high school and went on to college (Vietnam, unskilled labor force, or trade school were the other options). I do not recall suicide as being discussed in my world to any extent with one notable exception - involvement in a discussion during a driver education course while sitting next to one of the prettiest women in my class - where she noted that she and a friend would commit suicide if they weren't married with children by age 30 - (I subsequently came to learn that she actually went through with this). I got lucky and from that point on I was no longer bullied at school and I 'found' myself academically.
    In medical school, one of the 'arts' that needs to be learned is in going from a student group setting in a 'closed' classroom to a student group interacting with patients, overseen by an 'attending', and eventually 'graduating' to being one on one with patients. In one of these student settings we were assigned a late teen male with some 'personal problems', poor self-esteem, and falling school grades. It was not clear what was going on with him after 45 minutes of talking. I suddenly realized that he had signed up for this group on his own - seeking out a peer group for help - in my mind this was flashing as far more serious than it appeared. I remembered my experience above and asked if he had spoken to his parents about what was going on - he hadn't. I asked as to why - I was told they wouldnt understand and couldnt help. I asked if he had spoken to any teachers or clergy - his response was 'no' but his body reaction to the question was not normal. Within 5 more minutes our entire group was in tears. Turns out he had realized he was homosexual - he and his family were also devout religious catholic. He had though, spoken with his priest who was less than helpful by telling him he would be excommunicated from the church and that his life would be ruined. We were his last outreach for help before he was going to kill himself. Hopefully we got him the help and support that was needed. Again - Parents would not have been involved here until the end.
    Fast forward - Two daughters later - Daughter #1 is a labor and delivery nurse in a solid community hospital. Daughter #2 is a certified education specialist working with special needs students (severe autistic spectrum). My daughters grew up in the mid-to-late 1980's certainly with more day to day distractions than I grew up with - but overall successful. Daughter #2 does have issues with test taking for her certifications. She gets some degree/type of panic disorder when taking these tests and it has limited her progression within her field. My wife and I are aware and have been as involved as possible to try to help her. Daughter # 2 then proceeded one night to O.D. on heroin. No apparent pre-warning - except on looking back - we missed some behavioral changes. She survived the event and we forcibly hospitalized her (Caron Center) where she stayed for 6 months followed by 6 months at a halfway house. To this day she continues to be active in a local rehab program, we remain involved, and she still has the test related panic issues (though perhaps slightly improved). Then, there's my son. A 'millenial' child. Born into the era of social media - a period unlike anything that has come before it. My wife and I are both 'conservative' in our viewpoints and both grew up with strong family and work ethics. Involvement with my son on social, educational, political, or family issues was - and still is - a constant struggle. Trying to teach him 'how' to study was met with resistance and rejection. Trying to protect him within and from public media forums also proved problematic as we would find ourselves 'locked out' of his forums/accounts. Taking away his device 'privileges' only lasted for short periods as we would agree to terms, return his PDA - and then have everything repeat. We him placed into a program with a well respected psychologist that we had worked with previously. Sooner than we would have liked - he was 18. College did not go well for him; he completed one year of a 4 year program - then went back and got a 2 year 'associates degree'. At present, he is living with his girlfriend/fiance with whom he has a child and is receiving unemployment.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
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  15. Toppcats

    Toppcats Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 13, 2019
    page - 2
    Parenting is by far the most complex, frustrating, and difficult experience you can take on - it is also usually the most rewarding as there is nothing more precious and important than family. Raising a child in todays social, political, and economic environment is an extraordinarily difficult challenge. Social platforms while incredibly useful also allow for easily reached platforms for all manner of socially undesired behavior which creates another incredibly difficult challenge for parents - how do we monitor this while at the same time yield to giving trust and freedom to our children. Unfortunately, as confusing as all this is for us - it is even more so for todays adolescents - and this can lead into a parents worst nightmare of a loved one succumbing to depression, drug use/overdose, or suicide. Above, I presented example situations where the parents were both involved and uninvolved. Involved parenting is obviously always preferred - but as I've noted, from personal experience, even that can lead into unexpected disaster. Each situation is different and what works in one may not work in another. My interaction with the teen during medical school is one where I'd like to believe that peer-to-peer possibly was life saving; but I also strongly believe that peer-to-peer interactions were a major problem for my son.
    Did my wife and my involvement with my daughter stress her out to the point where she turned to some friends with heroin? Don't know - but we remain deeply involved with her which she states she prefers. As for my son, we have reconciled that while we haven't lost him and we believe that we have done the best we could as parents, it still bothers us greatly that his 'path' is likely going to be a difficult one. Our door remains open to him - and he knows that.
    For parents, this is a new and difficult time. The current pandemic has placed new burdens on families as there are struggles with almost every aspect of what was our 'normal' lives. Many families are now dealing with serious economic hardship as we head into what is a 'new normal'. @B Griffin's post has sounded an incredibly important alarm with respect to getting ourselves 'distracted' during a time of serious struggle from what is our usual routine. One somewhat easy thing to do is to insist on at least 1 or 2 family nights each week (if not occurring at present)- where dinner together is followed by some 'together' time to bond and see what your kids are doing. Assess if there are any apparent 'warning' signs that are flashing. See what your kids are posting on media sites (if possible) - and intervene if needed (may get some flack on this suggestion!). If your kids have you closed out of some of their sites - see if you can get their trust over time and gain access (this will NOT be easy).
    If you have the kind of rapport that @B Griffin appears to have with his daughter - use it, while trying to be non-judgmental, offer parental advice as possible - intervene for their safety if necessary. Keep in mind that as difficult as things are for the adults - the kids have also had their worlds turned upside down and their resilience may not be as strong/well formed as we might like. My heartfelt wishes that we all get through this period safely.

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  16. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thank you for your compliments and sharing your story. Luckily I had a good father who as a single dad gave me a very solid foundation in my formative years from age 6 through 13. Before he had an accident at work and I got stuck back the mother he had divorced and taken me from. What happened after that was pretty insane, it's too long of a story to type out here. But it was my dad showing me how to be a good parent and my mother showing me the opposite that give the the contrast to try to do a better job as a single father myself in this crazy world of ours. I'll keep your daughter and son in my prayers. Rough starts don't always mean rough later-ons. Not only s tomorrow never even guaranteed to come, even if it does it is never knowable in foresight it any way.

    At the age of 17 I was already a seasoned veteran of street life after my mother was killed. There was a night in particular after an attack in the wee hours that the only possessions I owned were bloodstained shirt and jeans, a pilot survival knife, a Zippo lighter, and whatever is inside me. At 55, while I'll likely never be wealthy as I've never aspired to be, I get to talk to people around the world who have read my written works in books, magazines, and online articles over the last 20 years, and to adventurers around the world who have carried my knife and tool designs into into forests and into combative conflicts all around the globe. And I've spent much of the last 3 decades teaching small groups ways to survive extremely deteriorated circumstances. And at 17, while I was owning very little and eating a squirrel I had killed with a slingshot in a local park and roasted over a fire in a 5 gallon bucket in an abandoned building in Dallas, I never saw any of this later stuff coming.
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  17. Crag the Brewer

    Crag the Brewer Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 18, 2018

    I don't know you yet, as I just stumbled upon this post today.... (I will try to read more of your post/writings)
    But I'd like to say that you are a Good Father.
    Sometimes that is important to hear that.
    My daughter is an early teen, and I'm just starting to go though with this, and your story is a good remainder that we Really need to make time for our kids... often they are quietly asking for our attention, but after a long day of working we unfortunately aren't always hearing them..... Hopefully in 4-5 hours after work, I can go give her a hug, maybe we can play a game outside, or build something? idk.... Cause I know soon, she might not ask again, or she could be gone....
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  18. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Thank you sir, I appreciate the kind words very much! If she is in her early teens already, I suggest spending as much time as you can. These days it sometimes takes weeks just to schedule a coffee date with my 27 year old daughter.
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