Who is Daniel Perry?
You might not know the name “Daniel Perry,” but you should, especially if young people are an important part of your life. As the result of bullying, Daniel took his own life when he was only 17 years old. Unlike some other types of bullying, though, Daniel’s case involved Skype bullying, which is becoming more and more common.
Like many teens his age, Daniel Perry wanted to be liked by the opposite sex. Also, like many teens, this Scotland boy was the victim of online bullying. Unlike the bullying that often occurs in person, at school, for example, these bullied teens are often not aware that the person, or persons, bullying them are often not who they say they are. And that is the crux of the issue with Daniel Perry.
According to news sources, such as the UK’s, The Mirror, Daniel Perry thought he was chatting via Skype with “a very pretty girl,” aged about 16 or 17, who lived in the United States. Once he realized that the girl was, in fact, fictional, the anonymous person behind this scam tried to extort money from him in order to remain quiet about the entire matter.
It is often this threat of exposure, and the implied humiliation that is often lingering in the back of the mind of a teen like Daniel, that provides the impetus for blackmail. Teens often are so desperate to be liked by their peers that they will go to great lengths to avoid any situation in which they might be looked down upon. They can easily fall prey to those people who make monetary demands on them in exchange for not making public the texts, conversations and photos, or videos, that were exchanged during their interactions with these teens.
Their peer group is not the only concern of teens, such as Daniel Perry. Though some other cases of cyber bullying have involved teens that have been embroiled in family problems, with Daniel Perry, there were no family issues. His family was one of loving support and he had a bright future ahead of him. Training as an apprentice mechanic, Daniel lacked only that special girl in his life. As a result, he was acutely aware of what the exposure of the contents of his Skype sessions might mean to his family. He was quite concerned that they know absolutely nothing about the incident.
It was the desire for someone special that made Daniel Perry an easy target for an extortionist. It is important to talk to the kids in your life. Whether you are a parent, teacher, leader or simply a trusted confidant, try to keep the lines of communication open between you and the kids around you. Beware that just because a teen seems to have a full life, it does not necessarily mean they are not being bullied. Be willing to listen when teens want to share what is going on with their lives with you.
Tell teens that websites, such as Skype, Omegle, Ask.fm, Facebook and Twitter, that allow users to maintain a certain degree of anonymity, are a haven for people who do not have their best interests at heart. These chat buddies often take the time to build up what seems to be a friendship with a teen. Once that rapport is established, it is often results in a slow yet steady progression of requests that become more and more personal.
From sharing private information, such as their address, to providing suggestive pictures, videos or both, teens need to be aware that anything they share with someone via the Internet could very likely be used against them in some way. These include threats of public exposure to the act of publicly exposing this material. In many cases, money is often involved. The teen may be urged to kill themselves in order to avoid the humiliation of such exposure.
While the Internet has many great uses, it is important to offer teens an outlet for their social needs that focuses on shared interests with in-person interactions. Even those teens who live in rural areas can likely find friends with similar interests. These experiences with real people can often provide a counterbalance to their online interactions. They do not take the place, however, of time spent getting to know teens and listening to them talk about their concerns and issues.