Something is ‘not quite right’.
I was born with ‘antennae’. Not visible, of course, but my sense of something being 'not quite right' has been proven to be very useful, and, I have to say, accurate.
This ability was a great help in keeping me safe when I was young and often had to walk 5 miles home from school in the dark, to the fairly isolated village where we lived. No one had mobile phones or cars to collect me. If my acute hearing picked up footsteps coming near, then I knew where in the hedges I could hide ( and, if I felt the need, I did), and, even in the dark, where the field gates were.
In my teens I was sent to have organ lessons, in a big church. My grandfather, who was also a church organist, knew this man taught students. After the first two lessons, an awareness of increasing disquiet entered my mind, so much so that I told a friend. I have always been grateful that she accompanied me thereafter so I was never again alone with this man. The lessons were in a town about 10 miles away and so her effort was considerable. It was only after the man died of a stroke that I heard someone say that he had 'a reputation'. However, what that meant or the knowledge of what I was afraid or, or avoiding, only came in later life. However, even in ignorance, the ‘antennae’ had served me well.
At the same time of my life, I also had piano lessons from an elderly man in an 'off road' bungalow several miles from home. I always travelled alone, felt totally safe in his company and, more to the point, I was safe. He was a lovely man and an inspiring pianist. So, I am not a nervous individual - in fact, though 'aware', I was quite the contrary . This sense was honed to perfection during 35 years of work as a psychiatrist, when, on the odd but rare occasion, the hair on the back of my neck would feel to stand up. Subsequent knowledge would prove that awareness had been valid. I always took note of this 'extra' sense.
Recently, I got a pleasant email on behalf of a business website asking me if I would put a link to that website on the contact page of www.poemsfor3 -7years.com
Poems for 3-7 years, is a small site, specifically about my book of the same name. It is for parents, grandparents and carers, not children.
The link requested was from a site specifically for people who wanted to find tutors for their children. Maybe people do have tutors for their 3-7 year old children, but I have other, larger and much more popular sites for older children (Primary school poems for 7-12 years) and teenagers ( Secondary school poems) which I thought would have possibly been more relevant, if awareness was the object of the link. The Primary school poem site has a page for parents.
So to target the small and simple, specific site, Poems for 3-7 years, and ask to be on the contact page (probably the least visited page of the site) struck me as ‘not quite right’ and my initial thought was ‘ bit odd!’ I thought, ‘whoever could find that site, could easily have found the others’ – all are linked to my name.
Maybe the long years of psychiatric work have made me suspicious, or the antennae were awakened. I could easily have created a link, and been pleased, as I understand that ‘links’ help the host as well as the target websites to be visited via the search ‘spiders’. But, instead, I looked at the requested website.
It was a minimalist site - to say the least. There was the usual menu of pages, but there was no information about the service on them, except that the service was free. Now I am not interested in having wealth - sufficient is good, but health is my hope and priority. But even I , who am retired and write for interest and pleasure, have to cover my costs. Researching 'tutors' in all different areas and for every different subject would take a lot of time and involve many people i.e potentially cost money! Maybe I had to register in order to see what was on the site? I didn't. But, so far I saw no reason to add a link, but no reason not to.
In order to progress on the site without registering or without any background information about the site etc was to put in my town and postcode, hence giving my exact location. I then thought, ‘what a clever way to find out where young children live’, playing on the increasing parental anxiety about the child’s educational prowess.
No, I really wasn't happy to make a link, though, if it wasn’t for my ‘antennae’, I would have said it all looked innocuous. So I decided to research the site, i.e. who owned the domain etc. I have never done this before, but something still felt ‘not right’.
Anyway, what I found out about the domain owner was, potentially and if accurate, very disturbing, so I did not even reply to the request. However squeaky clean the site was – or not, I didn’t know, but that information was enough to give me doubts.
But, I have to say that by now, I really had to wonder what this site was really aiming to achieve. Was it deliberately lacking information, was it still in the process of being created, who was behind it and what was their purpose and had they a hidden agenda. Suffice to say, I did not want my site to be even remotely connected.
Finally, of course, I may be wrong, it may be a perfectly innocent site - hence I give no URL or name. My antennae may have become rusty or are picking up unnecessary or, for once in a long, busy life, inaccurate vibes.
However, accurate or not, I would advise all parents to check sites and their owners / owners of their domains etc before even thinking of looking for tutors for their children via the internet.
I often write articles due to my concern for children and teenagers, and this article is no exception.
So, on behalf of young children everywhere, I ask all parents to please remain vigilant. Know the people who spend one-one time with your older children, and, in the case of young children, remain with them or in view in such circumstances.
The priority of safety comes light years before reading or mathematical skills and should always be included in the equation.
The phrase, 'Wolf in sheep's clothing', came to the surface from somewhere in my unconscious mind.