Last week, my column was about human trafficking. As I came into work on Monday, one of my co-workers had printed out a press release from the U. S. Attorney's Office in Martinsburg.

Yes, I know that Martinsburg is a large town and is a bedroom community for Washington D.C. But, the press release was about a man who has a Maryland and Florida address who was luring young girls on the internet to send him pornographic pictures of themselves.

This is one way human trafficking begins.

This 24-year-old man had talked to a 13-year-old West Virginia girl on an app called “Live Me” and groomed her until she sent him inappropriate pictures of herself. No one knows how far this would have gone if police officials had not intervened.

Maybe he only wanted pictures. Maybe he wanted to continue talking until that child ended up sneaking away from home to join her “love.”

These are scary times we are living in.

Live Me, Snapchat and many other phone apps are becoming a way to meet young people, boys and girls alike, and either get them to send inappropriate pictures or get them to meet them. The adults usually provide the bus or plane ticket and then your child is in the hands of a predator. In a town that is not your own. Alone. And scared.

This isn't just happening to children. Teens and adults are being lured into these activities also. Everyone always thinks the grass is greener on the other side. But, sometimes that grass is extremely dangerous.

Many, many parents give their young children cell phones for emergencies. It makes sense for children to have a phone available to be able to contact parents when needed.

Kids are smart. They are especially smart when it comes to technology. If they have their own phone, parents need to be diligent in monitoring the apps they download and how they are being used. Once that Snapchat photo is sent, it's gone and Snapchat has been very uncooperative in helping police recover photos needed in criminal investigations. So far, not one court in the nation has been able to force Snapchat to release photos that were sent, but not screen shot.

Chat rooms are a fun place for teens to visit to meet people from all over the world. The sad thing is, predators know that too. There are sick people everywhere. Literally. Some just want child pornography, some plan to lure your child or teenager to a far away place and sell them into the sex trade.

It's a scary world out there.

The press release I received, just after I wrote the initial column on this subject, said that the man received a ten year sentence. If he behaves while in prison, he will serve 7 and 1/2 years.

You can not talk to your children enough about this subject. Honestly, they may roll their eyes, but the hope is that when confronted in life or on the internet, they will remember what you said and know that you are right. Hopefully, your child will come to you and you can report this person to authorities.

It's real. It's important. Be vigilant.

By Joseph Mazzella

 

I was 10 years old and I was going on an adventure. It was summer break and my family had traveled south, to TN, to visit my Uncle Richard and Aunt Charlotte. But, while my older brothers had been allowed to go all over the place, I had been stuck in the house for most of the visit. Now, however, my mom had decided to let me go alone to a corner grocery store at the end of the block. She had given me money to pick up a loaf of bread and extra change to get myself a popcicle. I felt so grown up as I made the journey, bought the food, and headed back.

When I was about half way back to the house, though, I found my path blocked. A large black dog was looking at me and growling. I had never had a dog look angry at me before and my heart started to pound faster and faster in my chest. I didn't know what to do. Should I run? Should I scream? Suddenly, I felt a calmness come over me. It felt like it was coming from outside of me and within me at the same time. I knew what to do, too. I stood up as tall and straight as I could, looked over the dog, and said firmly, but kindly, “Go home, boy!” The dog stared back at me for a moment, then turned and trotted off.

I walked on, feeling very brave and very scared at the same time. I saw my mom and Aunt Charlotte sitting together on her front porch. I skipped up the steps and sat down in between them. My mom gave me a sip of her soda while I shared what had happened with her. I relaxed in her arms feeling adventurous, but also safe, secure, and loved.

Looking back on that moment reminds me that life itself is an adventure and only the bravest of us fully live it. It is full of fear and love. It is full of lessons and learning. It is full of pain and joy. Yet, through it all we are watched over and loved. God is everywhere and in everything, including us. Embrace all the adventures life gives you, then, be they big or small. Face them without fear. Use them to become the person you were meant to be. Let your entire life here be an adventure of love. And always let God's love live through you.

 

Joseph Mazzella is a free-lance writer from Nicholas County and a GSC Alumnus.

Welcome back to Glenville and Glenville State College!!! And, to all you new freshmen, welcome!! I hope a new world of opportunities opens up to you and you have a wonderful college experience while you are attending Glenville State College.

People say that your high school years are the best of your life. I have found that is not true for me. My college years stand out as the best! The most fun, exciting time!

Your years at Glenville State College can be the best years of your life. GSC can not only offer you an education that will last a lifetime, but friendships and memories that will too.

I've stolen some common sense items that I am going to share with you to help make GSC the best experience of your life and help you to succeed in your future.

1. Go to class. Period. Regardless of whether the professor says you have to be there or not. Just go. You will learn so much more by being in the actual classroom listening than you will reading the book. It's a good habit and a good mindset for every class you take.

2. During the first day of class, get two people's phone numbers from each and every class. No, not the hot guy or beautiful girl. Get those phone numbers because, at some point during the semester, you will have a question. If you have the telephone number of classmates, you can compare your memory of what was said during the class. If anything social works out, well that would be great, wouldn't it?

3. Take notes by hand. You can't make up an excuse that I haven't already tried. You won't remember everything to type it later unless you are Sheldon Cooper, and most of us aren't. Write the notes by hand, during class with your phone in your pocket on silent. That's how our brains encode information most effectively.

4. If you really want to get good grades to keep those scholarships or just to be as successful as possible, after class or the next day, rewrite your notes. You can outline the information, highlight important points, note what page of the textbook the material is covered on and make a list of questions.

Rewrite your notes! Rewriting helps dedicate that information into your memory.

5. Being a student is your job! If you don't do any of the suggestions in 1-4, simply do number 5, you will probably make it through college with flying colors...literally.

College is your job. Your full-time job is to be a student. So you need to be a student 40 hours a week.

Look at it this way, if you have a 15 hour class schedule, you have 25 hours each week to study or do any assigned work.

I know that sounds like a lot, but if you spend from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. everyday, Monday through Friday, in class or studying then you have every evening and weekend free to have fun!

If you start your college career doing these things, they will become habit and you will be able to better gauge how much time you actually need to spend studying in the future.

6. Go see each of your professors during their office hours. Introduce yourself and get to know them just a little bit. You will have a much better experience in class if you go talk to the professor and introduce yourself. If your professor knows you are making an effort to connect with them and that you are interested in their class, they will look at you during lectures and the look on your face will tell them whether you understand the concept they are teaching or not. They will notice. If the professor can tell you aren't understanding, they will explain it again, in a different way, so that you can grasp the concept.

7. This is the last one, I promise! Do the reading before class. I understand that you have never done this before and that you can usually get away with not doing it at all, but try it. Professors like it when you can participate in class. And seriously, if you want to be successful in life, you have to do things that you've never done before.

To summarize: You are a student and that is your job. Spend 40 hours a week on your classes and you will have a lot of time for fun! Do the reading, go to class, talk to your professors. Take responsibility for your life and your education. After all, the education you are obtaining only benefits you!

Make the most of college! It really is the best time of your life!

An unusually hot and wet spring this year was followed by an extremely hot and wet summer. Sunny skies were constantly giving way to heavy showers, only to be replaced with more sun and heat. This combination has made for a few changes from our regular summer here, in the mountains of my home. The limbs on the trees are growing twice as fast as usual and their leaves are huge. The Queen Anne's Lace, Daisies, and Black Eye Susan's are growing waist high in the meadows and on the sides of the roads. The bush in my front yard is shooting up as fast as a sunflower. The grass in my yards is thicker and taller than ever. Butterflies and bumble bees are everywhere, as are the yellow jackets and hornets. Mama deer and their babies can be seen coming out of the woods to feast on the abundance of crab apples on the ground. Squirrels with acorns are scurrying up the trees and baby birds are flying out of their nests. Everywhere I look there is an explosion of growth and life. It is incredible to see.

We humans are a little different than the rest of nature, however. Yes, our bodies do grow best in optimal conditions. We grow healthy and strong when we have good food, clean water, fresh air, and plenty of exercise. On the inside, though, it is often during the hardest of times that we grow the most. During the times of death, loss, and suffering is when our souls grow stronger and closer to God. During the bleakest wintertime is when our hearts grow more loving. During the worst times of our lives is when we help each other the most.

Why is it that we grow kinder, stronger, and wiser during the toughest times, as well as the good ones? Why is it that the worst in this world often brings out the best in us? No one knows for sure, but I am happy with the mystery. Live well, then. Love much. Grow strong. Be the person God meant for you to be during the winter nights, as well as the summer days.

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