Please Log In
One mother’s forethought to protect her daughter online saved her from further abuse and prevented other girls from being abused.
In the age when texting and instant messaging (IM) have become common ways for teens to communicate, most parents are amazingly unaware of the need to protect their children from predators and inappropriate communication. A New York mother made a proactive decision to install content filtering / Internet monitoring software on her 15-year old daughter’s laptop, ultimately removing her daughter from a dangerous situation and putting a predator in jail. names in this case study have been changed to protect the victim and her family from further persecution and harm.
In October 2009, April researched Internet filtering software options for her daughter, Sabrina’s new laptop. Remembering a news story she watched about Net Nanny’s parental controls software, she decided to purchase and install it on Sabrina’s laptop.
From the beginning, April was monitoring her daughter’s online and IM activity through Net Nanny reports and notification alerts, not noticing anything out of the ordinary. Around February 2010, Sabrina met 20-year-old John* through mutual friends at a party. They began communicating by text, then email and IM on Yahoo Messenger. Sabrina was honest with her mother that she liked him, but April refused to allow her to date someone his age. She would become angry with her mother over the situation, but seemed to adhere to her mother’s direction.
“I later found out that John was picking Sabrina up at night after she had gone to bed, then returning her home before morning, said April. “The seemingly innocent friendship had developed into a sexual relationship and he was photographing those acts with my daughter. The first time April was alerted to inappropriate communication between Sabrina and John was in June 2010, when she returned from a trip and found suspicious phone numbers on a family member’s cell phone. She began investigating further. She reviewed the Net Nanny reports and found that Net Nanny had flagged quite a few IM conversations as dangerous. She later learned that John had been grooming Sabrina with sexually explicit messages for months through text messages, going around the safeguard April had established for her daughter.
“When I read those conversations, I was shocked and disgusted, April said. “I could not believe this was going on and had to find an immediate resolution.
Sabrina was at school when April found the conversations, so she immediately contacted police. They were able to identify John by tracing his computer’s IP address and had enough information to obtain a search warrant. Upon searching his computer, they found transcripts of explicit conversations and photographs with a number of other girls. He was having similar relationships with other girls Sabrina's age.
When Sabrina was confronted about the situation, she defended John and did not want to get him into trouble. She believed he cared for her and they had a real relationship. She was in denial about the circumstances of their relationship until police showed her numerous photos of other girls and transcripts of the chats he had with them, very similar in content to hers. She was devastated and heartbroken, then realizing she was a victim to John’s lies.
“John was grooming Sabrina from the very beginning, said April. “He knew she loved muscle cars like Mustangs and Camaros. He drove a Camaro, which further enticed her to go with him.
April’s documented proof of the conversations between Sabrina and John helped police arrest and charge John with disseminating indecent material to a minor in the first degree. He was sentenced to serve six months in jail, 10 years probation and is required to register as a level one sex offender.
“The police were amazed that with Net Nanny’s reports, I had all the proof they needed to get the conviction, said April.
Sabrina has received counseling to help her address her role in the abuse and she is currently only allowed to use the Internet when April is with her. Sabrina and April are working through this together and making efforts to regain trust again. “Sabrina was a victim, said April. “But, she also had to face that she broke trust between us and has to work to get it back. I am grateful I was able to help her before she or other girls were hurt further by this man.