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BellaOnline's Missing and Exploited Children Editor

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The Dangers of Personalizing Items


Personalization is the rage of recent years. There is only one problem with personalizing things, is it let’s everyone know your name. Items that display a name can make one vulnerable. Today an SUV passed with the little family member icons on the rear window – each one with a name underneath. A mom, and 2 children, and their first names – TMI as my daughter says. TMI is “too much information." TMI or too much information can place one in a vulnerable and dangerous place.

Take for instance personalizing your child’s backpack or lunchbox. Initially it sounds like a wonderful idea, printing your child’s name on the outside of their backpack or lunch box might prevent theft, as well as any confusion in whose backpack is whose at the end of the school day as the last bell rings. Yet, if you do put your child's name on his or her backpack, you may be placing your child in danger.

Think about this scenario for a minute you have just finished filling your car up with gas, you walk inside to pay, and the clerk hands you your change and says “thank you Erika.” Caught off guard as you return to your car you wonder how the clerk knows your name. Do you know him from somewhere…maybe from work or church? As you ponder this thought, you sit back down in your car, and catch a glimpse of your reflection in the rear-view mirror, suddenly realizing you still have on your employee badge, which clearly states your first name. Mystery solved!

However, consider your child walking home from school with their name printed boldly across the back of their backpack. A child predator can and will use your child's name to catch them off guard. The predator can and will allude to the fact that perhaps the child does not remember who they are, but since he or she knows the child’s name, they must be someone they know. This sense of familiarity can place a child in danger as the child let’s down his or her guard, rather than running from a stranger.

Consider the sport shirts of children who play in an organized sport. Team jerseys usually require a team jersey, which often has the players name boldly printed across the back of the shirt. Then you have coaches and parents loudly cheering on each player by name in front of an audience of many. Sports uniforms are only one of many ways kids are made vulnerable through personalization.

Girls often wear jewelry with their first name displayed on their necks or wrists. Sparkly necklaces are pretty but the name displayed tells the world exactly who is wearing the jewelry. Personalizing items unfortunately give a pedophile a direct link to your child. Consider how adults are caught off guard when a stranger knows their name. Children are especially vulnerable when someone uses their first name.

Evaluate how you display your personal information. Consider how displaying names on mailboxes, cars, and personal items might be placing you or your children in danger. Although it is nice to be known by name, there is a risk that comes with telling others who you are through personalizing items. Educate children regarding the dangers of wearing personalized items. Explain the risks associated with displaying ones name and discuss why you are discouraging this habit. Please stop by the MEC Forum and share your own ideas on keeping children safe.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Erika Lyn Smith. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Erika Lyn Smith. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Erika Lyn Smith for details.

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