LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Its every parent’s worst nightmare, your child receiving a message on social media from an internet predator. Well it happened to one Lubbock girl and now her father is speaking out to warn other parents. “The message says ‘hi dear,’” said Scott Rees.
Two words that seem harmless, but those words were sent through Instagram direct message to Scott’s 14 year-old-daughter from an obviously older man. Scott says he’s seen this kind of stuff in the movies, but he never expected it to happen to his child. “It kind of hit home that there’s really people out there that are trying to find any young girl. Who knows what his end goals were.”
Scott says he’s lucky his daughter did exactly what he taught her. She blocked the predator, told someone about it, and now a report has been filed and an investigation is being conducted.
Jennifer Castillo with Voice of the Missing in Lubbock says its important to make sure parents talk to their kids in case it happens to them because things like this happen more than you think. “We don’t think it happens and we become oblivious. We think we teach our children well enough that they are not going to fall into that and they do. It happens every day.”
Eric Rasmussen is an associate professor at Texas Tech who has been studying children and media. He says his research shows there’s three things parents can do to keep their kids safe. “Number one is the single biggest predictor of kids media use is parents media use so what parents do online kids will do, too. Second is we need to talk to our kids more. Third is that we need to set rules.”
As for Scott and his family, he hopes sharing his story will help others. “I mean just her simple fact she had an account is all it took. He messaged her that one message, but I’m glad that’s as far as it got.”