(Originally posted in the wrong blog)
No one really knows what can happen in life. The time that has passed has made me realize more that not only is life exceptionally precious but so is the time we have in it. What might happen in future days, weeks or even months is all a crapshoot. No one really knows. Future circumstances can be happy ones but they can also be sad ones.
I have been asked regularly in the past few weeks about why I decided to go to the trial in the Netherlands and what I expect to gain from this. Choosing to go wasn’t an easy decision. I realize that there will be emotional pain involved with seeing the alleged perpetrator of Amanda for the first time in a Dutch court. But also at the same time, I have to see beyond the grief and know that I am making the right decision.
Mr Coban is the alleged perpetrator of not only Amanda but 39 other known victims that he targeted online. The trial is one that many in this Dutch country are very well aware of. Documentaries have been made not only in Dutch but in other surrounding countries. Cyber extortion is known to have affected the lives of not only young people but of adults as well. Although slow in coming to the forefront of discussion, it has become an issue that more individuals and families are becoming aware of.
A couple of years ago, as I was yet in another airport, I was fortunate to be introduced to an organization called The UK Safer Internet Centre based out of the UK. The goal of this centre is to have a central place where e-safety tips, advice and resources are available to help children and young people stay safe online.
Although we may think that technology has been around forever, it really hasn’t been around that long. At least not long enough to get longitudinal data on the everlasting effects with young people. Tablets and smartphones only started to be introduced to us approximately 5 years ago. Clearly not long enough to research long term effects. But we have seen some of the things that can occur on the internet and that is why it is important to become more knowledgeable. The mantra should always be – even if you don’t think anything is going to affect your life or your families – it is still always good to err on the side of caution so that you are prepared.
I have never been through a major earthquake even though much of the province where I live lies on a fault line that could result in a natural disaster. Just because the disaster hasn’t happened doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t get more prepared. I have my emergency kit with foods, etc in place for easy access. I check to make sure the batteries in the flashlight are OK. I make sure that I have candles and a lighter handy to provide some light and heat if needed. The same should be for everyone learning about technology. Not just how to reboot your technology if it freezes, but learn the intricacies of the ways technology is being used (eg – communication, applications, sexting, exploitation, etc).
To be prepared with a knowledge base of what your kids or even your elder parents are doing is a wise thing.
If you have a moment, make sure to go to The UK Safer Internet Centre website. Amanda’s story is featured in a resource that is called – So You Got Naked Online. This is one of the many resources available to not only young people but educators, parents, law officials, etc. To make a difference, we need to be proactive in our learning and not be afraid to ask
the questions or even to make the mistakes.
Choosing to go the Netherlands wasn’t an easy decision but in my heart, I still feel it is the right one. Seeing the alleged person accused of crimes against my daughter will no doubt be a shock but I want to eventually be able to share the experiences of what I see and hear. It may not be right away but I know that it will happen in some space of time.
What happened to not only Amanda but many others continues to happen around the world. The important message is that it needs to somehow stop. Together we can watch and learn what happens in this trial and the one that will come after it to piece together strategies to engage out young people in conversations that will help.
No one knows for sure what will happen with the world full of uncertainties but we must live to prepare for whatever.
Loving Amanda and she is with us in so many different ways. xoxo