Oahu mom says online predators connected with her daughter through school-issued laptop
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu mother has a warning for other parents after she says her 13-year-old was being groomed by a pair of suspected online predators who she connected with on her school-issued laptop.
In an interview, she said the men initially made contact with her daughter through a children’s video game before persuading her to join an invite-only chatroom.
HNN is only using the woman’s first name to protect her daughter’s identity.
“I thought she was just having conversations with friends while she was doing school work,” Kelly said.
But about a month ago, the mom started noticing a change in her daughter, saying she was getting up early to get online, under the guise of doing school work.
She also noticed the 13-year-old had started deleting her search history.
“Then she started saying things, like if I was going to the grocery store. When are you going? Are you leaving soon? Are you leaving,” she said.
“And one day I said stop. Put both hands in the air. Don’t touch that laptop.”
That’s when she discovered messages from two men. One claimed to be 27. The other said he was 43. She says they connected through a game called Sky.
“Then they persuaded her to go offline on Discord where they continued to groom her,” she said. “They groomed her for personal information. They groomed her to take photos of herself.
“Fortunately they were fully clothed. But for me the most frightening is they were talking to her by phone. Some of the conversations lasting more than an hour.”
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, reports of online enticement during the pandemic are double what they were the previous year.
“Predators are adult offenders who develop relationships with minors and trick them into doing wrongful acts,” said Honolulu Police Department Sgt. Chris Kim.
During a recent workshop at Sacred Hearts Academy Honolulu, police warned students about dangers online. Kim advised them to keep social media accounts private and never communicate with someone they don’t know.
“If you friend strangers online you actually increase the risk of contact by predators,” said Kim. “It leaves you vulnerable to stalkers, harassment, hackers and inappropriate contact.”
Kelly said she has filed reports with HPD and the FBI. She says she hopes sharing this story will prevent someone else from becoming a victim.
“My daughter lost her brother a few years back and it left a big hole in her life. And these two men picked up on her need.”
Kelly added before the incident she taught her daughter about online safety and the importance of not sending personal information to strangers.
“We taught her those things. But her need for relationship overran all those barriers and her judgment.”
Kelly added that parents shouldn’t assume school-issued computers have software that limit access to questionable sites. She says the filter on her daughter’s computer only worked on campus.
Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.