Concerned dad reads daughter’s iPad and thanks God he did
Concerned dad reads daughter’s iPad and thanks God he did
It can be incredibly hard to parent teenagers. They’re trying to figure out who they are and what their identity is outside of the family. It’s an important step in the growing up process, but teenagers today also have access to social media and while they may have started sounding like an adult, they’re still children and children get preyed upon as this dad figured out.
The dangers of social media
Social media can be wonderful. It’s a way to connect with people around the world who are interested in the same things that you are. You’re able to make friends with people whom you’ve never met and engage with the world across a variety of topics. But, like anything, social media has a dark side as well. The anonymity of the internet allows for people to troll and bully others. It also allows people to pretend to be someone they’re not. Teenagers are still learning and figuring out themselves; they don’t know everything (even if they pretend that they do), and it’s a parent’s job to protect them from things that they don’t know how to be on the lookout for – such as sexual predators.
Sexual predators have taken to using social media to lure teenage girls and boys into sex trafficking. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but it’s true. Sexual predators appear online as teenage girls and boys and befriend real teenage girls and boys. It happens more often than you think and it’s important for parents to be monitoring their kids’ social media because it can happen to anyone, just as this dad found out.
A father’s nightmare
Scott Jenkins is the father of two daughters. Like any parents in this day and age, Scott monitors his daughters’ social media activity and internet usage twice a week. It might seem like an invasion of privacy, but teenagers aren’t adults, they’re children, and it’s important that parents know just what their children are doing online.
Scott started to become concerned with his daughter Haylee. Haylee became more withdrawn and moody and Scott noticed. He continued to monitor his daughter’s online activity and nothing was out of the ordinary, but one night he got an inexplicable bad feeling and knew that he had to check Haylee’s iPad immediately. It’s lucky for everyone that he went with his intuition and checked through his daughter’s online activity. He found a provocative sexual picture and everything quickly became sickeningly clear.
Meet 15-year-old Bruce
Scott discovered that his daughter had been talking to a 15-year-old boy named Bruce. He enjoyed talking to Haylee online and he introduced her to his other friends online as well. Haylee, like any other teenager, was probably thrilled because she was meeting new people and making new friends, but nothing was as it seemed.
Scott found a sexy picture while going through his daughter’s social media. That was a red flag to him, so he went through all of her social media accounts. Then he went through Bruce and his friends’ accounts and found secondary accounts for all of Bruce’s friends. The secondary accounts showed that while Bruce was indeed a kid, his friends were actually not 15-year-old boys, but instead grown men. Sickened, Scott alerted the police and gave the Cyber Task Force access to all of the family’s technology. It took the police seven months to track down Bruce and his “friends” and that’s when Scott and his family got a phone call from the police asking them to come down to the station.
Human trafficking ring
Once Scott and his family arrived at the police station they learned that Bruce was actually inadvertently part of a large and elaborate human trafficking operation. Bruce didn’t know it, but the people following him on social media, the people he thought were his friends, were using him to lure young girls. Those men then picked and chose the girls that they were interested in. Bruce’s friends stretched across the globe and thus, so did the sex trafficking ring. Scott’s intuition that night saved his daughter from a terrible fate and parents from their worst nightmare.
Human trafficking statistics
Globally, it’s estimated that there are at least 20 million people trafficked worldwide and the human trafficking industry is worth about $150 billion annually. In the United States, the sex trafficking industry depends on which state and even which city you’re in. Urban Institute reported that for Denver, Colorado it was about $40 million, and in Atlanta, Georgia it was $290 million. Many of the kids who are lured are runaways because they’re easy prey, but any child who spends time online can be preyed upon. This is why it’s vital that parents know what their children are doing online and who they’re talking to.
Protect your kids
It takes more than monitoring your kids’ devices to ensure their safety online, though that’s a good step. Firstly, talk to your kids about internet usage and what they’re putting online. Teach them about the importance of keeping information private. They also need to know why they need to do this. They need to learn and understand that it’s their job to help keep themselves safe online because there are people out there in the world who would do them harm. Secondly, have them use the internet in public rooms of the house. This will help you keep an eye on what they’re doing online. Thirdly, take advantage of parental controls on your internet browser. It will help monitor your kids’ internet usage, as well as monitor and filter out adult or inappropriate content.
It’s easy to think that Scott’s family’s story won’t happen to you and yours, but don’t think that way. You need to protect your family and that means educating your children about online safety and by using your parental authority to catch things that they miss because they’re still just kids. There are some very bad people out there in the world; don’t let them into your house through your children’s social media.