Breck Bednar never had a fifteenth birthday. Instead, on that date, his family gathered at his grave.
He had been lured to his death by Lewis Daynes, an older boy he met on the Internet. Daynes, who had spent years grooming a group of boys via an online gaming server, gradually convinced Breck to listen to only him – and ignore the advice of his mother, who had grown so suspicious of Daynes’ relationship with her son that she had gone to the police.
Lorin LaFave, Breck’s mother, did everything “right” to prevent the tragedy which took her son’s life – she talked to the other parents, set clear boundaries for her son online, and even took away his access to the Internet for a week, forbidding him to talk to Daynes. Unfortunately, the other parents were uncommunicative, the group of boys Daynes held sway over took their conversations “underground”, Daynes gifted Breck with a secret cell-phone to contact him – and worst of all, the police ignored LaFave’s concerns about the man she was sure was grooming her son. She would only find out after Breck’s death that, although Daynes had a record of a previous conviction for the rape of another teenage boy, the police dispatcher she shared her concerns with had decided the case was not “serious” enough to pass on to investigators.
If the awareness of how grooming works was better-known – and part of the standard training of police – Breck Bednar might be alive today. As it is, Daynes was able to hijack the boy’s loyalty; his victim delivered himself into his snare, and the deadly predator was able to commit the heinous violent crime which ended Breck’s life.
Lorin LaFave has turned this ghastly tragedy into a positive result: she has founded the Breck Foundation, which works to educate youth and their parents about online grooming and Internet safety, by teaching them to “Live Virtual, Play Real”. We at Open Minds salute LaFave and her courage!
What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Do you have a story about grooming that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!