Police warn parents about dangers of social media
SNOHOMISH – Two teenage girls who had been missing for more than a week have been found in Tacoma. Police say they are safe now, but they want this case to be a lesson to parents.
As we told you last week, police didn’t believe these girls had run away. They believed they were in danger, because of the girls’ social media activity and the strangers they had been communicating with.
Many parents were shocked by the news that the two Snohomish High School students who went missing in late January might be victims of sex trafficking.
“I would think Snohomish is not really that kind of place,” says Matthew Goldon.
“You’ve got people who look like normal people and they’re not,” adds Janet Smith. “Kids have to look over their shoulders these days, and it’s really sad.”
Police Chief John Flood says he doesn’t get many cases like this.
“It’s a fairly small community. To have this kind of activity, it really opens your eyes and makes you think this could happen anywhere.”
Last night, the 16 year old girls were found in Tacoma. They’re safe now, the FBI says they were taken to a location where “they will receive the support they need.” Flood says they’re lucky.
“Some of these kids, they get hooked into a lifestyle of abuse, they get hooked into a lifestyle of drugs, and this easily could taken a turn for the worse.”
That’s why he says parents need to pay attention. Sources say the girls were talking to older guys on social media sites like Facebook before they went missing. Their activity is what raised red flags for detectives.
Some parents admit they don’t keep a close eye on their kids’ social media.
“We have a computer, but we don’t allow him on it,” says Shawn Sullivan. “He has his phone, but he just has music on that. Otherwise, I don’t really monitor him.”
But other parents know some websites and apps can be dangerous.
“With all the social media, people can stalk you essentially,” says Goldon. “That’s why you shouldn’t be posting weird things onto Facebook.”
“You have to talk to kids and tell them they need to be careful where they go, and you need to be careful about who you choose for your friends,” says Smith.
Flood says that’s the only way to keep your kids safe in this digital age.
“I implore parents, please just be aware of what your children are doing. Be attentive and take that extra time to see what your kids are doing and let them know you love them.”