After reading Michael’s article, he might seem over-controlling and overprotective. But, controversial as it seems, I agree with Michael. As a private detective tracking down runaway children, I have seen it all.
Michael is correct. We live in a world that is nothing like the one we grew up in. It is a dangerous world, full of unexpected surprises for naïve people.
Rather than analyze his parenting style or recommend best practices on child-rearing, I want to share what can happen to children who escape parental supervision.
When I first became a private investigator, my client was a frantic mother who hired me to locate her missing daughter. Although the parents were divorced, I was told that the father supported the mission to find their daughter.
My investigation led me to a party in a quiet neighborhood. I set up surveillance and watched a girl’s birthday party. When the party was over, parents began showing up to take their daughters home. Watching from a distance with binoculars, I saw a girl who fit the description. I was surprised to see her father and concluded that he was actually harboring the daughter.
Following them to a trailer park, I quietly walked up to the side of the trailer. Looking through the window, I was shocked to see the middle-aged man having sex with what appeared to be the 15-year-old girl.
Later, I found out that she was the wrong girl and that the father was sincere in his desire to find his missing daughter. I had completely misinterpreted the entire evening. But that night was a turning point in my life: I decided to commit my life to putting an end to the exploitation of children.
The Internet and Disappearing Children
On another case, I traced a 14-year-old runaway girl who disappeared from a mall in her hometown to a location over one thousand miles from her home. She had gone onto a vampire fantasy website where a 19-year-old male arranged a meeting at the mall. She was found four months later, living with the 19- year-old in a shabby apartment with all the windows covered.
If you still think Michael is taking too many precautions, here are some frightening statistics:
• 2.5 million runaway young people are living on U.S. streets today. (National Network for Youth)
• One in seven kids between the ages of 10 and 18 run away at some point. (U.S. Department of Justice)
• 100,000 to 300,000 American children are involved in commercial sexual exploitation. (U.S. State Department)
Michael goes beyond monitoring his daughter. Rather than take justice into his own hands, he contacts the police and their parents.
Keeping Teens Safe Online
Michael is an excellent parent who takes extreme measures because we live in extreme times. It only takes one covert date with an online “friend” to draw someone into a nightmare. Predators use charm and bribery to meet young people, and then coercion to hold them captive. Since the exploitation of children is more common than most parents know, I champion Michael’s perspective; keep your kids safe by monitoring their favorite communication devices.
Michael recognizes the importance of good communication. His children (if not now, then when they get older) will recognize that his actions come out of his uncompromising love. Michael is a man committed to ensuring the safety of his family.
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