CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — A 15-year-old girl who vanished from her Brooklyn, Ohio home last November was the subject of a nationwide search.
Investigators found her 23 days later. She was 700 miles away in Missouri.
For the first time since her rescue, the Northeast Ohio teen will tell her story to Dr. Phil on Wednesday and Thursday on Channel 3 at 5 p.m.
The teen tells Dr. Phil she felt a connection to the 41-year-old she met online and she “wanted a new start.”
She said she felt like she could talk to him about a lot of things going on in her life.
READ MORE | Brooklyn teen held hostage to appear on Dr. Phil
The teen used a popular messaging app to connect with the man who lured her to Missouri and then held her against her will.
Sadly, that’s not surprising at all to Jesse Weinberger.
She’s a Chagrin Falls mom who travels the country with the chilling reality of just how many kids are at risk of falling prey to online predators.
“This is everyone’s child,” said Weinberger.
Her resume, as a career software developer and protective mom who speaks to thousands about cyber dangers, is why she knows the things so many parents don’t.
“We’re opening up the world to them, and they are getting the keys to the kingdom,” said Weinberger.
The teen tells Dr. Phil she met the man on “Kik,” a messaging app that Weinberger calls “the devil’s spawn.”
“Kik is a sexual predator’s preferred method of reaching out to kids,” said Weinberger.
Weinberger, author of “The Boogeyman Exists, and He’s In Your Child’s pocket,” says children under the age of 14 should not have a smartphone.
“I’ve been to Christian, Catholic, public schools, expensive private schools and the story is the same. Digital access is the thread that ties all these stories together,” said Weinberger.
She cautions parents, “If you don’t want to have candid conversations with your child, the child doesn’t get the device that gives them access to the Internet. Period.”
“No smartphones, no social media under 13 years old,” said Weinberger. “Certainly, your job as a parent is to snoop. I say trust, but verify. The leash can be long, but there has to be a leash. You have to snoop!”
Read and watch here:
WKYC:Parents: How to keep your kids safe online