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Friday, July 07, 2006

 

She's Leaving Home

We've all read the horror stories about MySpace. It's been mentioned in the news in connection with runaways, pedophiles, pornography, and teen sex. It's not the only web site that parents should be worried about. There are plenty of dangers for kids on the Internet. But if you think any of this is new, then think again.

I don't have any evidence that parents in the middle ages worried about their young children being lured away to dark castles by knights in shining armor. Nor do I have documentation that Aztec priests were going into the fine homes of Tenochtitlan to convince teens to find their destiny as a human sacrifice.

What I do have in front of me is an entertainment magazine from September 1964 called Movie Life. In it is a lengthy article titled "Police Warning: Tear Up This Beatle Letter" that outlines the dangers of a phony letter that was being sent to teen-age girls in both England and the US.

From the article:
You've just received a mysterious envelope in the mail. You open it, naturally curious, and, oh bliss! Your eyes practically pop out. Your brain goes reeling. You can't believe it. It's from THEM. It invites you, YOU of all the girls in the world, to meet The Beatles for a date. Or perhaps, since you are so beautiful, such a real fab dream of a dish, perhaps you'd like to audition for a role in the next Beatles movie. Sound too good to be true? It is too good to be true. Much too good. In fact, it is a hoax, deliberately aimed at, deliberately trying to victimize susceptible teen-age girls.

Take the recent case of two Virginia girls... Sporting Beatle haircuts, dressed in tight pants, mannish shirts and ties, talking in British accents, calling each other "Ringo" and "Paul," and carrying flight bags emblazoned with the legend "Liverpool Or Bust," the pair ran away from their homes, determined to get over to England any way they could to see their idols. The father of one of the girls was frankly afraid they would make it.

"They are so determined," he said, "that if they could get anything to float them, they would go to the water's edge and push off, and take a chance of starving to death to get there. The virus of the Beatles struck them, as it did two or three million other teenagers in this country, and has reduced them to people who do not dwell any longer in our midst. They have ceased to be part of their family, their class or their community."

This particular father, as it happened, overestimated these girls. They got as far as Philadelphia by hitchhiking and there they were picked up by the police - tired, hungry, out of money, and not too unhappy about being sent back to their families. "I'll never do it again," one of them promised the next day.

Police fear that the fake Beatle letters may be more than just someone's idea of a practical joke. The letter-writing could lead to big, big trouble, indeed - to graft, seduction, kidnapping and vice.

So, please, heed this warning. If you should receive a letter purporting to be from The Beatles - much as you want to believe it - don't! Tear the letter up. Or, if you have to do something with it, run, don't walk, to the nearest police station, and ask the first policeman you see to answer it for you.

Parents of every generation need to be aware of what their kids are reading, hearing, and writing. There's no need to panic and lock your teen away in a tower. This kind of thing has been going on basically forever. A little caution, a lot of awareness, and plenty of communication is all it takes to keep your kids safe.

Having said all that, if I get a letter in the mail from Paul McCartney offering me a job as a roadie on his next world tour, then I am outta here!


2 Comments:

Blogger MommaSteph said...

Please, if you go, take me!

I'd never heard about that Beatles story, too much. It does seem as though things are getting scarier, in terms of access to our kids. A friend's son was stalked and seduced online by an older man. Thank goodness, the police caught him.

3:51 AM  
Anonymous brettdl said...

What a strange, strange world we live in.

7:50 AM  

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