Society & Culture & Entertainment Other - Entertainment

Children Preyed Upon by Online Child Predators - Show Recap

Original Air Date:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Danielle and Kristin's Story:

Danielle's daughter Kristin at 14 did well in school and excelled at track. When Kristin was in 8th grade, she received a computer and strict rules to go along with her use. Danielle's mother never could have guessed what was to come for her family.

Danielle described the day her family changed to Oprah's cameras. After returning from church at 2:00 in the afternoon, Danielle heard her husband scream for her to call 911.

Going down the hall while on the phone, Danielle watched her husband cut her daughter down from the rafters.

How did this happen? After finding out that Kristin had a profile up on a social networking site, Danielle took the computer away for more than 5 months, but Kristin had already started a relationship with 27 year-old Kylie Ryan Bowers. Just before her 15th birthday, Kristin revealed to her mom that she had been used by the man and made to feel wanted and beautiful. She told her mother that she had gone with him to a motel where he sexually attacked her and once he had what he wanted, returned to Texas.

Kristin had been communicating with the man for 8 months and had only met him the 1 time. She didn't realize she could get so emotionally involved, and entered a deep depression after the abuse, reality of the trial, and harassment she received online after he returned to Texas. While it doesn't make up for the loss of her daughter, Kylie Ryan Bowers did receive a 9 year sentence for his actions.

Because it helps her deal with the pain of losing her daughter, Danielle wished to share Kristin's story and the lessons she learned from her experience that other parents may benefit from.

Danielle shared the following tips for parents:
  • It can happen to anyone - predators are experts in seduction and can convince a child to trust him. Don't believe that because you have a 'good' kid that it couldn't happen to your child.
  • Learn the technology - use safety software and know what your child is using online.
  • Don't let your children be naive - share stories of caution so your child knows what to look out for while using the internet.

Cell Phone Predators:

A story was also shared in a clip about a girl who was not allowed to have a computer, but was given a cell phone at 11.

Finding a chat site on her phone, she met a 20 year old man online when she was 12. After just recently losing her dad, she was able to find support from this man and eventually agreed to meet him at a park. The incident ended in him raping her, but thankfully he was caught but only sentenced to 3 years in jail.

Alicia's Story:

In October of 2007, Alicia testified before congress about being lured by an online predator at 13 and kidnapped to Virginia to become a sex slave. Alicia met Scott Tyree online and talked to him for 8 months before agreeing to meet with him on New Year's day of 2002.

Once Alicia was near Scott in person, she knew he was a monster and would have to do whatever she could to survive. Scott raped, beat and too video of Alicia locked in his basement. He bragged to his friends and shared images and video of his prisoner online, which eventually led to him being caught and Alicia being saved. A friend who Scott shared the material with turned him into the FBI, and Alicia was rescued after 4 days.

Alicia shared that Scott seduced and groomed her into trusting him. Always telling her what she wanted and needed to hear, Alicia became brainwashed.

Now a college junior, Alicia speaks to schools to help kids not make the mistakes that she made. Scott received 19 years in jail for his actions and is a great example of how internet predators are monsters disguised as the man next door.

Rob Nickel's Tips:

Rob Nickel appeared on the show and offered tips to help parents prevent their kids from becoming victims of internet abuse. Rob explained that the 'good' kids are often the ones who are more trusting and are easier to lure online. Rob also advised parent to either not post pictures of children online, or to be strict about privacy settings.

Filtering, blocking and monitoring software is also available that can help parents control time online, passwords, usage of social networking sites, and block sites that are not kid-friendly.

John Walsh:

In 1981 Adam Walsh was abducted from a department store while shopping with him mom. While partial remains were found days later, his body was never discovered and his case remained unsolved for more than 25 years. Recently the name of Adam's murderer was declared and John Walsh and his family was finally able to have justice, even though the Ottis Toole had died 12 years prior while in jail. John Walsh worked tirelessly for children's safety after the death of his son and is best known for his work on America's Most Wanted.

On the 25th anniversary of Adam's death, a bill was passed which worked to create a national registry for sex offenders. Some states have not complied with the bill because of lack of funding, and the act could disappear in July of 2009 if it is not reapproved. Since viewers helped pass bill 1738 in September of 2008, Oprah reached out for people to again do their support to help Adam's Act stay alive. Oprah provided a drafted letter on her website that viewers could print out and send to state representatives to help the act continue to provide protection for children.

Leave a reply