16-year-old Adnan Patrawala, who had been missing for 2 days, has been found lifeless near Panvel, just outside Mumbai city. Reports claim that Adnan may have been strangled to death by kidnappers who had earlier demanded 2 crore as ransom.
It seems that the kidnappers may have used the moniker *Angel* to communicate with Adnan, befriend him, exchange phone numbers and entice him with the possibility of a ‘real-life’ meeting.
I was stunned by this, especially just a few days ago I had read on Boing Boing (via David’s excellent blog) about a National School Boards Association report that the internet was safe and that we should use it more. The NSBA had determined that the much-touted risk of online stalkers and predators was basically nonexistant.
Adnan who (in his profile on Orkut) called himself a party-animal and who wanted to be a pilot, is being mourned by the Orkut Community. His profile has received almost 2000 scraps in the last four hours.
Information from the press that he “loved to spend money on his friends”, drove a Skoda car, love to party (the most syndicated picture shows him with a Bacardi Breezer) may point to indulgent parenting and adolescent precociousness but also to unbridled use of the collaborative web. As I write this, for the first time, the ‘web’ seems more like a metaphor for a spider’s net than for a mesh.
This incident sure to cause a reverberation in the online community. As teachers and educators we have a responsibility to help protect our students again such act. The correct response would not be a blanket ban on sites like Orkut and Facebook in schools, I can see this as a very likely knee-jerk response to this event.
A better approach would be continuing education about the possible consequences of undiscretionary online behaviour, much like the talk students get (or should get) today about sex education. Students have to be told, with examples like this unfortunate incident involving Adnan, that dangers exist and like one would not share personal information with a stranger or accept food from someone you didn’t know similar behaviours were inappropriate even when the other were a virtual entity at a computer screen miles from home.
A good article on what students should be exposed (or not) to is Putting Them in a Bubble, over on Jeff’s Blog
Till students become more adept at using collaborative/discussion tools on the internet, web monitors and net nannies are a good way to go.
I wonder what you all think about this. I await your response.
Rest in Peace, Adnan.
Further Reading (click on numbers to open links)
#1: Rediff article that talks of the Orkut Connection to Adna’s murde
#2: An article that claims that over a thousand sex offenders may be on MySpace. It also profiles Pancake26, a predator who uses simple code to lure children and young adults
#3: Indiscreet posting costs students University Seats, Jobs and more.
#4: Link to download the entire NSBA report cited above.
#5: An article that talks of the irreversibly of internet postings; how we ourselves are invading our privacy.
#6: MSNBC Dateline article on Why Parents must Monitor Internet Usage and MySpace