How to protect our children from Jonathan Galindo and the like: an online survival kit

How to protect our children from Jonathan Galindo and the like: an online survival kit

His appearance is like that of Goofy, a well-known Disney character, but distorted: Jonathan Galindo has a sly grin on his face and disturbing, almost hypnotizing eyes. It is a horror version of Goofy, fruit of the morbid fantasy of the American video maker Samuel Canini.

Jonathan Galindo: what is it about?

The picture, dating back to 2012 and initially used by its creator to make pornographic films, has recently become a symbol of the alleged dangerous online game in which very young people (children between 11 and 13 years old) would run into each other in different places around the world.

After the phenomenon of Blue Whale , which we talked about on our portal, here is yet another "challenge" that would try to enter the lives of minors, from which, however, the creator of the character has firmly dissociated himself.

In Mexico 2017, the first social profile with this deformed Goofy appeared, then moving on to India, Vietnam, Spain, Brazil and, recently, Italy.

How the game works

Behind the different accounts with this image, are hiding some malicious people who lure children into chats, inviting them to "play a game" with them. The proposed challenge would then lead to acts of self-harm, leading even to suicide or murder.

In Italy fear of the game has grown after a tragic, chilling incident, which took place at the end of September 2020: the suicide of an 11-year-old child in Naples. He had written to his mother that he had to follow "the hooded man," before jumping from the window of his apartment.

The details of the story are still unclear, and the investigators who are dealing with the investigation have not given the precise cause: it is yet to be verified if and how the character of Jonathan Galindo caused the incident.

It is not even clear who and what is hidden behind this pseudonym, how widespread it is, where the reality ends, and where the "myth" begins.

Without a doubt, however, caution on the Internet is a must because malicious people really do exist.

We would like, therefore, to offer parents and educators some cues to prevent accidents of this kind.

An online survival kit

It is true that good is not the only thing that exists in the world... and the Internet is not an exception. And there are many "diseases" to be contracted online. One of the diseases from which we must defend ourselves is online grooming.

We teach our children not to trust strangers, not to follow them, not to accept rides or food from them. Well, "strangers" also exist in the virtual world.

We need to know what dangers are present and equip ourselves with a real "survival kit" in the online world.

Just like going to the mountains requires a kit (suitable shoes and clothes, enough water, food, and equipment for steep trails), as well as proper equipment for the beach (swimsuits, sunscreen, towels), so also to "go" on the Internet you need to be geared up with the right equipment.

We would not let a 10-year-old child go to the beach or the mountains alone. We need to know that the Internet is not a safer place than the beach or the mountains. It presents different dangers, but should hold just as much importance in our minds.

Just as we ask ourselves how to keep minors from falling off a cliff, we must also ask ourselves how to make sure that they don’t end up in digital traps…

Some basic rules to avoid baiting

1. Be aware that "evil" has no boundaries. For some years now, if a company doesn’t exist on the Internet, it practically does not exist at all. And those who want to harm our children are well aware of this fact. That is, if they want to deceive them, if they want to hurt them, they have to remain where it is easier to "kidnap" them. Let us be vigilant!

2. In the mountains we take children on paths suitable for their age: if we want to "take our children on the Internet," we have to decide "the paths" (the sites, the games, the time allotted, when to leave and when to go back, taking into account their age). Children who are lured by these malicious people never exceed the age of 13. Well, before the age of 13 our children shouldn't even be on social networks!

3. In the mountains we stay by their side, we do not let them go alone! We should be at their side even on the Internet... A child should not surf the Internet without adult supervision!

4. In the mountains we explain what the dangers are and tell our children which way you can go and which way you cannot. We tell them to be careful near a cliff. We should also explain that on the Internet there are dangers. We can teach them that they should not accept friend requests from strangers – that if someone manages to contact them somehow, they should immediately tell their parents, who will have to block the contact. Everything we normally do in our day-to-day life (if a stranger approaches our child and asks him to get in the car with him, we report him to the police...), we should learn how to do it in the virtual world.

The "prevention" from the psychological point of view

Another question we could ask ourselves is: how can we make these games unattractive to children?

Children tend to fall into these traps because they are insecure and seek "approval." Those who lure in our children to do what they want, they encourage their preys and praise them. The task of the parent and the educator is to make sure that the child does not feel the need for such praise. It is important, for example:

1. Do not take for granted that the child knows how precious his life is, that he knows it is immensely valuable in God’s eyes and in the eyes of a parent or even his teacher. Do not take it for granted that he knows that he must protect his own life and that of others. Let's tell children that they are precious, that their friends are precious, and no one "should be able to touch them." It is necessary to teach children to understand that they are worth so much and that no one has the right to ask them for something that will make them suffer.

2. Speak in terms they can understand without terrorizing them. They must not be slammed with fear, but warned. We should not give them nightmares at night, but they cannot be left completely in the dark about this issue either. They must have the basic information, just enough to recognize when someone is baiting them.

3. Give a crucial message: "if someone asks you to hurt yourself, they don't love you! Whether it is a friend or a stranger. Someone who loves you takes care of you, your health, your body, and your feelings. No one, if they love you, would ever hurt you. And you must love and respect yourself first!"