A parent’s worst nightmare came true for dad John (who asked that his last name not be used) when his 18-year-old daughter, a senior in high school, went missing. He told the Daily Beast that because he had been monitoring and trying to limit his daughter’s interaction with what he deems “the wrong crowd,” he immediately suspected that she was in deep trouble when she went missing.
Months later, after her safe return, John began speaking out about their ordeal to warn other parents.
“If it was up to what I want, I wouldn’t talk about this,” John told the publication. “It’s difficult to go through and emotionally draining. But I feel compelled to help other families and keep them from going through what we did. I’ve got to do something.”
Not content to let the police handle things by themselves, citing their need to “slowly, methodically build an airtight case,” John hired a private firm to help him get his daughter back. “In the time it would’ve taken to build an airtight case, I would’ve lost my daughter,” he said.
But it’s not how he got his daughter back that John wants to talk to parents about. It’s how she got mixed up with sex traffickers in the first place — and John is pointing his finger directly at the popular app SnapChat. In a Facebook post warning parents, he says,
“…never worry about being over protective. In our case, it all started with friends from high school. Beware of Snapchat. It is extremely difficult to monitor effectively and it is used brilliantly by teens trying to escape detection. The only luck we had with Snapchat was to literally grab my daughter’s phone unexpectedly… and look at recent communications, but even that had limited effectiveness.”
John says his daughter was groomed by her captor for over [two] years before her capture, and that a “friend,” a recent high school grad living on her own, was also used to groom his daughter. Advocates say that because each victim is worth literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to their pimps, they are willing to put in the time and the work to lure their victims.