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What would you do? Parenting question

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FightingChance posted 3/17/2014 08:32 AM

My 13yo stepson did some very bad things with his phone recently. He had some inappropriate texting issues. 2300 texts and photos to some number out in Colorado, and we are not from that state. He deleted them all so we have no idea who it was or what they said. My FWH called the number and someone answered but he couldn't tell if it was a girl or someone pretending to be a girl.

Some of the conversations he hadn't deleted were him telling a 26yo woman he was 18 and she brightened his day. He also had a conversation going with another "boy" but the way the conversation went, my son was giving up all his personal information to the other "boy". Screamed pedophile the way he was able to get my son to give up the information. He also downloaded a bunch of inappropriate apps, created a new email he refuses to give us the password to and was playing a game wherein he meets half the people he was talking to on kik messenger inappropriately.

FWH and I took the phone away immediately. FWH met with his XW to discuss a punishment. She wasn't concerned about any of it. Said he was experimenting but agreed to the consequences. Lost phone for 2 weeks, after 2 weeks he could talk/text/call his parents only. After a month he could have his phone back with restrictions. He must immediately delete his Clash of Clans account and never use that name again anywhere online. He also had to write a paper on internet safety.

Well, XW got upset with FWH this week and decided to let 13yo play Clash of Clans at her house on his xbox. Seriously? It's been a's the same account he met the possible pedophile on. He's still talking and chatting with people inappropriately on there. For instance one person told him to go punch his brother and he's mouthing off about his dad kicking him off the game. XW will not answer FWH about why she is putting him at risk again, she's ignoring FWH on this. 13 yo knows he wasn't supposed to play but with his mom's permission he will just to piss off dad.

FWH is pissed off and terrified our naive son will lead a pedophile to his door and his mother is helping him. I managed to convince him to talk to our son's therapist today about it before he talks to our son, but he wants my opinion on what to do. Quite honestly, I don't think the initial punishments were hard enough but I try to let them parent him. I have my say at our house but I let him deal with her entirely. I'm teaching tonight after my day job and won't be there for the conversation. Anyone have any words of advice? wisdom? warnings?

tushnurse posted 3/17/2014 09:07 AM

I'm sorry you are going through this, and it sucks that his Mother doesn't care enough to cooperate in putting a stop to this.

I would do a few things, that would be absolutes.
1. No X box Live.
2. Set his phone up so you (your H) get blind copied on all his activity.
3. Give him a dumb phone, one where he can only call and text, and he has to text with the numbers on the key pad, so it's a huge hassle.
4. provide him and his mother both with several stories from the news as to bad outcomes from this behavior. He has to be frightened as to possible outcomes. Try to find one regionally close to you.

This is a giant safety issue, and something I would not tolerate even kind of. It is also showing that he crappy boundaries already, pretending to be an older guy, he is heading down a road to be a cheater, and liar. He has to understand that if he isn't honest he will not be trusted.

Amazonia posted 3/17/2014 09:23 AM

Can a Clash of Clans account be deleted?

FightingChance posted 3/17/2014 09:52 AM

Tushnurse - We took all his electronics away when this happened. As his mother said, we don't control things at her house and she can do what she wants. That's really the main problem. We can't protect him at her house. At our house he's lost everything. I've told FWH at our house, no electronics, no tv, no movies, nothing but books and grounded to his room when he's with us for one month. (50% of each week) He said that was too harsh.

Amazonia - I assume they can be deleted. We originally told him we'd delete the current and after a month was up he could open a new one, that was supervised intently, with a brand new name he could not disclose to anyone he was the old name. Not even his friends. His mom chose to let him play his old name at her house before we deleted it. Which we planned to do after showing the phones texts/apps with his therapist today and Wednesday with a Parole Officer who deals with pedophiles for the one particular group of texts. I teach with her, so she's going to take a look at them to see what she thinks, if we need to report it.

StrongerOne posted 3/17/2014 10:43 AM

I don;t know anything about the Clash of Clans game, but is there a moderator that you can contact? about both your stepson's not being allowed on the game, and about the possible pedophile? Same thing for any of the apps or games.

I'm sorry the boy's mom is so selfish and pigheaded and careless of her child's safety.

You must be so frustrated and worried about this child.

Nature_Girl posted 3/17/2014 10:59 AM

Actually, I would contact the police or whatever LE authority in your area who does online predator busting. I'm seriously saying this. I know there are specialty organizations who bust online predators. Call them today. Bypass the incredibly stupid XW. I do not want to read here about your SS disappearing because he went to the mall to meet someone.

FightingChance posted 3/17/2014 13:13 PM

Nature Girl, I've already contacted the authorities. She's meeting me on Wednesday to see the phone and get whatever she can off of it. That's one of the reasons we haven't deleted anything from the phone, in case they need to retrieve deleted information.

StrongerOne, he meets them through the game and then uses an app called Kik messenger to text them. He thought he was being under the radar so I wouldn't see the texting. He's wrong. I search his phone EVERY day he's at my house. I caught it immediately.

He lives in a tourist city, strange people wander by his front door every single day just looking. Any predator could pick him or his brother up easily. We begged their mother to walk them to and from the bus stop and to be extremely careful. She thinks we are being overly protective. I hope to never get the call that he's missing too Nature Girl. Believe me, it has me twisted up in knots.

hexed posted 3/17/2014 16:10 PM

My SOs 14yr old DD recently moved in with us. The phone has been a problem.

Just prior to moving in with us she snuck out with a 19yr old boy that she was texting and met via some dating app. She told him she was 18.

We did call the cops They came to the house and took a report. Then we had the officer come back to the house and speak with DD. That wasn an eye opener for her.

I use the parental controls on her phone like a fiend. I can limit the numbers she can text and call to just immediate family. Turn on and off texts and apps as I see fit and I do.

A flip phone/non-smart phone is a good idea You can't stop what happens at Mom's house. Clearly she has no boundaries. Focus on what you can at your house.

Nature_Girl posted 3/17/2014 18:44 PM

I'm thinking that a visit from an online predator vice officer to the exW would be a great thing to have happen, and would be a fly-on-the-wall worthy moment.

mixedemotions posted 3/18/2014 00:42 AM

Different perspective here - not a parent, I know, but this is a portion of my professional background

Just a suggestion since many things work differently for different people, but it's been my experience as well as that of many longtime professionals, researchers, etc. that scare tactics and taking things away don't always work so well.

The show Scared Straight drives me and other people in my field batty bc it is so ridiculous in comparison to actual, effective, evidence-based techniques.

When it comes to teens, one of the main reasons scaring them doesn't work is that their brains haven't yet fully developed the portion responsible for understanding longterm consequences. Ever seen/heard about something your or another teen has done and thought WHAT were you thinking? You're looking at those scenarios with a fully developed adult brain, that's why it's so mind boggling.

They can hear the scary stories but it likely won't really sink in.

Another main reason, and this tends to be true for most ages, is that we do things for a reason. We get something out of it, otherwise we wouldn't do it. Removing technology for a period of time and employing stories about the terrible things that COULD happen don't replace whatever need is being fulfilled by his actions. And, he'll likely just think sure it COULD happen, but not to me. We've all been there in "I'm invincible" mode, right?

These are some very serious behaviors he's engaging in. You can't control what happens at mom's house and that's scary, but you can control the level of support he gets from you. Please oh please get him into some type of ongoing (key word ongoing) professional help. If he's totally resentful about it I'd be glad to offer some suggestions for getting teens to go to counseling. I have a very high success rate for getting the most disgruntled kiddos to be receptive to counseling!

You wouldn't hesitate to take him to the ER if he was having a medical emergency. This is the potential beginnings of a mental health crisis (or the symptoms of one already in effect). He needs/deserves professional support. This aspect of his well being is just as important as medical issues!

Please also get yourself and your H some support, just the same way you would read up on and get doctors' advice on an illness or injury that was new to you. You'd want to know how best to protect him and get him healthy.

He needs your compassion, your unconditional love, you willingness to listen and to make sure he knows he's safe in your house, more than he needs his phone taken away. One day he will grow up and leave the house and will have to make choices about who to talk to and what info to give out all on his own, start preparing him to make autonomously healthy choices now!

Sadmumma posted 3/18/2014 05:27 AM

He needs your compassion, your unconditional love, you willingness to listen and to make sure he knows he's safe in your house, more than he needs his phone taken away. One day he will grow up and leave the house and will have to make choices about who to talk to and what info to give out all on his own, start preparing him to make autonomously healthy choices now!

I agree.

While taking his phone away, while stopping the contact now could do nothing but send DS into further secrecy.. or open a bigger chasm between yourselves and ExW (good cop/bad cop).

I know you love your son, and want to protect him. Get him a counciller. Explain your concerned about him and that you are worried he is making poor choices. Explain that to satisfy your own selves, and to see he is making good choices you need access to his accounts, 24/7 as needed.

I can only speak from my own experience, and its working with DD12 (I think)

Bluebird26 posted 3/18/2014 06:10 AM

I'm in Australia. One of Australia's most infamous court cases has been settled this week, sadly about a boy who was 14 and abducted by a paedophile and murdered. This boy was missing for 10 years before his remains were found.

The reason I am telling you this, this very brave family have set up a foundation in memory of their son. The foundation number one priority is educating children about safety regarding these sorts of issues. The foundation resources are even used by schools as a part of their curriculum. It may be worthwhile looking at their site to see if there is any info that might help you in this situation.

This is the link:

I fully appreciate having to play good cop/bad cop roles. My ex thinks it great to down grade every punishment that is given to our children. However my kids have learned the hard way that it is now better to do the tough punishment set by mum because otherwise the punishment lasts longer.

Log into his x-box live profile and you should be able to change the settings to only chatting to friends only, I would even change the profile settings to lower rating so he's not playing/seeing violent images. Unfriend all those that you don't personally know. Also change the password on the wifi that way he can't use the internet without your permission. Take his phone and change it to a very basic non-smart phone. Otherwise take his phone until he can prove you can trust him.

If he has facebook I would check to see if he has any of these contacts as friends. I have nephew that has been doing this as well, adding any body from xbox as a friend on fb.

Whilst he might hate the boundaries you are giving him in your home he will learn that those that love him give him these boundaries to protect him. I would be cautious in setting punishment as the step parent though.

I hope he stays safe.

FightingChance posted 3/18/2014 11:27 AM

Thanks everyone. Just a few responses to some points you all made.

1. He is in counseling, has been for over a year and just recently switched to a fabulous new one. He went straight to counseling yesterday after Dad picked him up at school so we wouldn't start our week on the wrong foot. She made significant progress with him understanding his behavior. (We've been in counseling since d-day)

2. His phone isn't gone for good. That would make no sense in his proving we can trust him again. For now he's lost it and in a few weeks, he'll get it back and get the chance to prove to us he's learned something. Parental controls are in effect as well for his phone.

3. We know why he's doing this. He's lonely at his mother's house and these people are his "friends" who don't leave. Mom's made a lot of choices that have negatively impacted the boys. She doesn't realize it though and when approached she denies it and gets angry. The boys choose not to upset her.

4. I'm dealing with a internet sex offender professional regarding the pedophile texting. The therapist even agreed it was too much like a pedophile not to investigate.

Bluebird thanks for the website, I'll definitely check it out. X-box live is at his mother's house, we have not control over it.

Hexed, what a nightmare! That's kind of what I'm afraid of. He's too trusting, too naive and very immature for his age. He's the kid that would help a stranger look for their lost cat.

Mixedemotions, you're right. Absolutely. I'm more than aware that the kids see things differently than adults. Our problems revolve around two diabolically different households and how that affects the boys. Doesn't mean that breaking the rules gets him out of trouble, just means that I understand his conflict. Mom's telling him its ok, when he knows it's not. He made the decision to give dad the finger and blame it on Mom. The therapist got him to admit he knew what he was doing was wrong but did it anyways. It's a start.

tushnurse posted 3/18/2014 12:03 PM

fighting I am impressed you are doing the best you can with the situation you have been thrown into.
Him understanding that he was wrong is also a huge step in the right direction.
If mom thinks this is all out proportion is there anyway the pedophile expert person can speak with her, and examine the content of conversations/actions with the Xbox?

(((and strength))))

FightingChance posted 3/18/2014 13:08 PM

tushnurse I work with the sex offender person at my teaching job, she teaches also. I didn't realize at first what she did in her "real" job, just thought she was a psych teacher. Depending on what she finds she might need to set up a social services/police officer visit with the mom. She said that they take these things seriously and she can't just ignore it.

I discussed it with my FWH and he wants to go ahead and investigate the pedophile angle even if it means a visit to her house, or even ours. It's not like we can prevent it. We know what they'll find at her house though and that will cause a ton of problems and she will blame us.

tushnurse posted 3/19/2014 09:20 AM

Blame Schlame, keeping your kids safe is the priority here.

Perhaps they will see that this "mother" isn't really a mother.

Kajem posted 3/19/2014 13:26 PM

I'll be praying that the authorities visit her, and she wakes up her protective mother instinct!

Stay strong and vigilant.


FightingChance posted 3/20/2014 14:31 PM

Just a quick update for those of you who were kind enough to offer advice. His mom deleted his apps off his Nook before we could get to it. The phone had a password change and 13SS ended up trying to get into it so much he factory reset it. Of course that was probably on purpose.

The therapist read the messages and agreed it seemed like he'd been in contact with a pedophile. So we called the police and due to the logistics of where all this occurred, three different cities in what looks like 2 states, the FBI might get involved. I'm waiting on a call from the agent in charge of the child exploitation division. FWH will be the one to hand things over and make the statement, we're just trying to figure out who the right agency is. Plus they need the phone and Nook to see if they can retrieve anything.

Mom's going off the rails in general right now. Having the FBI show up at her house won't make her any happier. But it's the right thing to do to protect the children.

Fingers Crossed!!!

Wodnships posted 3/20/2014 14:52 PM

In my mind he has proven that he isn't mature enough to have unmonitored internet access. I'd refuse him any internet access with out adult supervision until he proves he is mature enough to handle it safely.

FightingChance posted 3/20/2014 15:17 PM

He has no electronic access anywhere at our house. We took the phone, the nook, computer and xbox one at our house away. His mother on the other hand thinks we are overreacting and is not restricting his access at her house.

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