My daughter has always been a bright light. She's always been precocious, always friendly, usually smiling. In my mind's eye, she's still around five years old. However, others don't see her that way. I realized this abruptly the last time I took her to the beach.
As she and I walked on the sand, the water serenely lapping the shore next to us, I noticed something. Men were staring at my baby.
She was fifteen then, sixteen now. And she's gorgeous, it's true. But for grown men to openly leer at her? I was shocked that it's happened so fast.
I noticed a few creepier looking men looking at her, and my imagination ran away with me. What if they were pedophiles? Sex traffickers? In this day and age, there's a whole arsenal of things that a weirdo can use to get to a young girl. Social media, online blogs, forums, the list goes on and on.
Girls now have to deal with boys (and strange men) finding them on social media, and trying to chat them up-- including sending penis pictures. That has happened to my daughter already, many times.
So, I did what any mother would do. I freaked out and kicked my motherly talks with her into overdrive. "Don't walk through a parking lot alone in the dark. Always have your keys in your hand while you're out there. Check your back seat before you get in. Don't talk to anyone online unless you know them. Don't talk to anyone online unless you know them. Don't talk to anyone online unless you know them.
I guess I got stuck on that last one for awhile. She told me stories of how weirdos have tried to contact her, tried to suck her into conversation with them, and all I could do was mourn for these girls... they've had to, in a sense, lose some of their innocence far younger than we had to.
It's not fair, yet weird stuff happens online far more than our kids let on. So I wrote I'll Be Watching You to help illustrate that we need to pay attention to our kids. They seem like they know so much about technology and the internet, and they do, but they don't have the people skills that we've learned, the sense of self-protection that we've learned.
For that, they still need us. They need us to protect them from the sickness in the world.
And that's why I wrote this book. To raise awareness, to help protect our daughters, and our sons, against those who would victimize them.
This book is one of my worse fears. In making it real on the page, I hope I've exorcised it from my heart.
Preorder it today. It releases on March 26.