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BowlofPetunias

Resources for teens who may be targets of grooming

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BowlofPetunias

I am very concerned that my son's motivation to be emancipated and move to a different state may be the result of grooming over the internet.  The fact that he decided he is not "really" transgender because he asked online friends--not any family members or face-to-face friends--to call him "her" for a week suggests that he has been sharing his identity concerns with some of the people he wants to move in with.  Obviously, we don't plan to let him move in with them, but we are afraid that he will run away.  Given that he is doing poorly at school and has no job experience--and can't even take care of his own things--makes me worried that it would be easy for a predator to push him into something like sex work or drugs.  

 

He took a lot of offense when I was upset that he revealed he had been vaping.  How could I think he is so vulnerable as to become addicted. (I responded,  "Everyone is vulnerable.  Your grandmother could not give up smoking when she was dying of lung cancer.")  I don't think he is going to be receptive of hearing me tell him that his "friends" are probably criminals seeking to prey on him.

 

And yes, LGBT youth are particularly vulnerable to predators.  Especially if local law enforcement are anti-LGBT.  He wants to move to a state in the south.

 

What resources can I use to make him aware of the dangers he faces without him dismissing them because he feels insulted that I would even think he could be the victim of a preadator?

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VickySGV

I need a bit of information in order to comment on this --- was your child Assigned Female at birth, or Assigned Male?  What direction are they going or moving in?  Also, how old are they?  You talk about emancipation, so are they high school or junior high?  I am the grand parent of two teens and a pre-teen who steered their Dad and his sisters into early 40's adulthood so I might have an idea or two.

 

My first comment is directed at you though!  You do not own your child. straight or LGBTQ. even if they have special needs.  It sounds like your child is trying to make that point just now to you.  While internet predators do exist, and I do know people IRL who have fallen into that, I also know others who have been enticed by "predators" who actually were exciting the person's imagination that his family and school had not.  In my family's case, the "predator" was the U.S. Navy which outlined both education and service excitement that our local high school had dropped the ball on.  I now have a 43 year old top ranking Naval Officer who is working on a doctorate in Nuclear Control Engineering.  Finding a site for your child that can do that, won't bug them about the "dangers" of something which they actually find exciting and are sure they are too smart for but it might  be more exciting and stimulating to their imaginations.  Trans' kids are just kids in that way.  Give them excitement and encouragement (even if those ideas scare you to death) to go and do possible things for their lives.  

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BowlofPetunias

He is 16.  I am using he because he has said that has said that he MAY be transgender, has not told most people, and still refers to himself as male.  If he wants me to use she, that's fine.  But he has not indicated that yet.

 

No, we do not own him.  But it is our responsibility to make sure that he goes to school.  He has been sleeping in and missing classes and may have to repeat math next year.  He has the idea that moving to another state will mean that he doesn't have to take math, english or the other boring classes.  School has nothing to teach him.  He is angry because we try to set limits on his use of video games, phones, etc. so that he will 1) sleep so he can get up for school and 2) do his homework.  I am not trying to control his life.  He can study whatever he wants BUT he does need to complete the basic requirements of a high school diploma.  I have told him that if he tries to get emancipation the first question the judge will ask his how he/she can be sure he will go to school without parental guidance if he is already giving us so much resistance to school.

 

He is also very unrealistic about what life on his own will be like, in terms of work, finances, and personal responsibility.  When the family counselor spoke to him (as part of a family session) about this last week, for example,he had no idea that he would have to pay taxes.  That was no where in his plan about how much money he would need to earn.  He also told the counselor that he would not be "the main breadwinner."  This sounds like someone is offering to support him, which is a very big red flag for grooming.

 

He has never had a job.  A couple of summers ago, he tried being a counselor-in-training for a couple of day camps.  He got fired on the first day at both jobs because of discipline problems--he was basically mean to the younger kids he was supposed to be helping.  

 

We have also offered to help him transfer to a vo-tech school in our area.  His Vice Principal even offered to help him transfer.  Nope, he hates this state and the other state will be so much better.

 

I would be concerned about any teenager making such a drastic move.  But the fact that he has a lot of self-directed anger concerning his gender identify makes him vulnerable.  We are not talking about someone who is proud to be trans or even someone who is OK with being trans.  He has made some very anti-trans (and misogynistic) comments in the past and he sound like he was going to burst into tears when he told me he might be trans.  He also explains his problems with responsibility by saying that he is "a -crappy- person."  Low self-esteem and self-hatred are things that predators look for in any target.

 

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VickySGV

Thank you for a better picture here.  You do in fact have your hands full there and it is going to be difficult.  You do have a responsibility and sadly you have only a short time -- two years is but an eye blink as I found.  With those facts about his behavior I doubt there is too much that would convince him to change his ideas.  I am not a medical professional, I am a retired tax collector who does have three adult children.  It would hurt, I know if he got into some trouble with the law, but it may be the way to get some serious third party help.  Perhaps talking to your local Police Department Human Trafficking team would be the best help for now.   Unless he is discussing his Gender issues though, his needs are outside of what we really have a clue on here.

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BowlofPetunias

See the thread below for how he has been discussing it.  He only told me about the transgender issues about two weeks or so ago.  I have encouraged him to go to the GSA at school and I hope he will go to the state pride festival with me next month.

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VickySGV

This thread --- https://www.transgenderpulse.com/forums/topic/77407-conflicting-information-from-my-son/?tab=comments#comment-693841

 

I do agree with what the other Admin and Moderator said about seeing that he gets to a therapist who knows gender issues along with the ADHD and anger issues.  As much as we love our children there does come a time when we cannot have them rule us as well.

 

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BowlofPetunias

I was able to speak with his in-home support counselor from the county yesterday.  It turns out that he was at least somewhat aware of the transgender issue, which makes me feel better that my son has at least breached the subject with someone who can provide help.  The counselor seemed pretty positive and open about it.  Given all of the context, he thinks he needs to try to get my son to talk more about the issue.  He also agreed that my son has really unrealistic ideas about moving to another state and said that he had tried to give him a more realistic idea of what that would entail. 

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Carolyn Marie

It sounds like your son has a very good counselor.  If they continue to talk, that is a good sign.   I wish you and he the best.

 

Carolyn Marie

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