Lessons from the Tragic Brian Betts Murder Case
Last month the body of 42-year-old Brian Betts was found slain, inside his home in Silver Spring, MD. Betts was a well-loved Principal at Shaw Middle School, in Washington, D.C., respected by both his colleagues and students. Unfortunately, this man who exhibited consistent leadership and thoughtfulness with his school community had a lapse in judgment on the night of April 14th, 2010.
Betts had logged on to social networking site Adam4Adam, a chatting and dating website for gay men, where police believe he met and arranged to meet with at least one of the youths involved in his murder. While we do not yet know whether the three 18-year-olds were forthright about their identity, it does appear that they used the social networking site to target Betts in a robbery that went awry.
The point here cannot be overemphasized, whether you are an adult or a child, you should never arrange to meet someone in person that you have only met online. While cases that result in murder or abuse are infrequent, they do occur. On April 29, Miami-Dade police arrested a 26-year old man who allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy he met online through Craigslist. Last year, Philip Markoff was crowned the “Craigslist Killer” for repeatedly robbing, assaulting and even once killing by targeting women who posted ads for goods on Craigslist.
While interacting with strangers online can provide a thrill for teens and adults (as experienced by individuals who frequent chatroulette), we at Enough Is Enough recommend that kids only interact with people online that they also know and trust in the offline world.
However, if your child (or you!) does want to meet offline with an online acquaintance, parents should research the person before giving consent, and accompany the child to meet in a public place. Additionally, if you, as an adult, are ever meeting anyone (for example, to pick up furniture purchased through Craigslist), take someone with you. Whenever possible, meet in a public space where incidents of crime are unlikely.
Our Internet Safety Rules ‘N Tools® are filled with information to protect your child from encountering this type of danger. While Rules ‘N Tools® are designed to guide parents, educators and other caring adults to protect children online, Rules ‘N Tools® can also serve as wise guidelines for adult online safety.