Guest post: “No one at school, work or friends recognised the signs of grooming”
Lorin LaFave lost her 14-year-old son in 2014 after he was groomed online. Breck’s Last Game is a short movie made in collaboration with Leicestershire, Northants, Essex and Surrey Police forces to help young people make safer choices online.
Founder of the Breck Foundation
Posted on: Mon 15-Jul-19 17:25:01
(40 comments )
Hello, I’m Lorin LaFave of the Breck Foundation - hopefully you’ve heard of us!
I want to tell you the story of my eldest son, Breck, as he’s the reason behind the Foundation.
I’d spent four long years trying to have him and when he arrived, like all births, it was a miracle. He gave me that new title that I yearned for, ‘mom’. Somehow, I hit the baby jackpot after that and when Breck was just two and a half, triplets arrived. He was a great big brother right from the start, not realising how his little life was being rocked. He liked helping and the triplets looked up to and adored him.
Breck loved building and making things. He loved Lego and of course computers. He’d spend hours taking things apart and putting them together again, even ‘hotrodding’ his computer like my dad had with cars back in the 50s, making them faster and more efficient. In primary school he’d play games like Minecraft, but just against the computer. It amazes me when primary pupils tell me that they’re actually playing with strangers online at such a young age.
I felt Breck had a healthy balance through his younger years - computing, sport, gaming and family activities. In Year 9 he had to switch schools due to a family situation - I felt sad and guilty as he was excelling where he was. He didn’t really enjoy his new school as he hadn’t found his ‘niche’ and he seemed to have lost his great sense of humour which had made me laugh so often.
This predator ‘mentored' the boys in the gaming group, and being only teenagers, they didn't recognise that he was a danger.
One day he came home after bumping into some boys that he used to play Lego with and was chuffed that they’d invited him into their gaming group. I was so happy for him. I knew some of these boys and felt it was a safe environment. I could hear him having fun and laughing, but over time I became aware that one of the boys he was chatting to wasn’t someone I recognised. Parental instinct perhaps, but I knew something was wrong. He made me incredibly uneasy and I felt he was some sort of predator somehow preying on children through gaming.
Just five years ago when this happened, no one at school, work or friends recognised the signs of grooming. They just didn’t believe me, perhaps because Breck was an everyday schoolboy who didn’t seem to have a vulnerability. But we all have vulnerabilities – we’re human, and predators seek out these vulnerabilities, doing or saying anything to convince a child that they’re a real friend.
This predator ‘mentored’ the boys in the gaming group, and being only teenagers, they didn’t recognise that he was a danger. As Breck had ‘met him’ through friends he didn’t understand my concerns. I knew something wasn’t right but I couldn’t convince anyone else, nor did I know where to go for help. Sadly, even with me forbidding the relationship and phoning the police, I couldn’t save Breck. He was lied to and lured to the predators flat where he was killed in a sexual and sadistic way – incomprehensible for a clever and loved 14-year-old boy.
I started the charity to share awareness of the signs of grooming and exploitation so that no child or family ever has to experience this sort of atrocity. I was over the moon when Leicestershire Police, along with Northants, Essex and Surrey Police forces collaborated to create the film Breck’s Last Game. It’s a short film intended to show teenagers how predators can build dangerous relationships through their shared interests, how a child can be isolated and turned against family and true friends, how we cannot trust ‘friends of friends’, and how a predator can be any age or gender because online, everyone is just an unknown, a stranger. We hope the film helps young people make safer choices for themselves online, remembering our tagline, “Do you really know your online friends?”
Watch it with your teens and talk about Breck’s story in an open way so that the children in your life can look after each other and keep safe in the world they love to spend time in.
By Lorin LaFave
That is a terribly, terribly sad story. People who groom youngsters are so very plausible.
The story is familiar to me, has it been televised? I seem to recognise it but could be something similar.
My heart goes out to Breck's parents.
I just read a bit more and, yes, the story was televised a while back. I saw it and It was - chilling.
I'm so sorry to read this...
am talking about it with ds tonight and watching the video.
Thanks for highlighting the issue.
Thankyou for having the courage to use your horrific experience to help others . You are amazing.
Thank you for sharing, I shed a tear for Breck and will be watching this with my 12 year old daughter at the weekend.
Lorin, you spoke at a Safeguarding study day I attended in 2016. Your story desperately saddened me then, and to be reminded of it now, as I hold my baby son, has hit me somewhere else. It was such a tragic series of events, and I hope never to have to go through what you did. Thank you so much for raising awareness of the dangers of online predators, and highlighting the signs.
Thankyou for posting this. I'll watch it with my 12 year old son. I can't imagine your pain
I've followed Breck's story since you first made it public and just want to say that I think you are amazing.
I'm 32 and don't have children yet, but your story has genuinely and uniquely ensured I will be as prepared as I possibly can be to look out for signs of grooming when I have a family of my own. You really have made a difference.
There's something special about Breck and I'm sure many others feel the same and remember him so fondly despite never having met him.
Thank you for being so brave
I was not aware of your experience but I'm very grateful for your work and posting here.
I've watched the video and will be doing so again with my teenage son tonight.
I'm so sorry for your loss
I'm so sorry about what happened to your son. I will be sure to share the video wherever appropriate.
I've read about Breck and watched the television documentary. So sorry for the awful thing that happened to him and thank you so much for doing this for other children. I'm sure he would be very proud of you
Thank you for using the tragic and senseless loss of Breck to make this video and spread awareness of internet grooming. I have just watched the video with my 10 year old PlayStation mad son, and we have had a conversation about this that we may not have had otherwise.
This is so sad and scary.
I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for trying to help all our children.
You poor darling. My heart breaks for you. Thank you for doing this xx
I have heard about Breck, and have been extra careful about online security because of it. Thank you for all you're doing.
I'm so sorry for the utter pain and heartbreak you must have gone through & I congratulate you for doing something so positive.
You sound amazingly brave.
I remember when you lost your son and watched the documentary.
I am so sorry for your terrible loss but enormously grateful that you have the strength and compassion to help other parents. I will be watching the video with my children
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Thank you for the video, I just watched it with my 14 & 12 year olds.
Your family's ordeal i haunts me more than any other I have ever heard. It's clear you did everything - absolutely everything any mother could think of to safeguard your son. I don't know how anyone could have done more than you did. It shocks me profoundly that despite this, your concerns were dismissed. And Breck comes across as such a lovely boy.
We watched your programme together a few years ago and talked about it. Your selfless, tireless campaigning to raise awareness is a gift to society. You are helping make the world safer and forcing change for good. I so wish it didn't come at such a loss to you and your family. I hope you know there are strangers all over the country who think about you and your son with real tenderness.
Also, you - specifically you - made me braver about challenging my sons. I felt able to come into their rooms and ask: 'Who are you talking with? Do you know them? Have you met them? Let me see the chat.' If they challenged me, I knew I had the right to stand my ground because of what I'd learned from you.
Hi Lorin I live quite local to you and sadly very familiar with your story particularly due to the work done by Kevin Black to publicise it locally.
I cannot imagine the pain you have endured but your tenacity will undoubtedly have saved many lives.
Your strength is incredible and I wish you and your triplets all the love in the world
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