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Flint says time and time again he sees child predators grooming children and their parents to trust them. Jasmine's mother, Vanessa, never thought she had a reason to suspect her next-door neighbor, a close family friend. "When we said don't leave the yard, we meant don't leave our yard or the Pompas' yard. It was an open-door policy," she says. "They were family."

Now, Vanessa realizes the importance of making sure a close relationship never masks a dangerous situation. "I think parents sometimes have to move outside of their comfort zone," she says. "If your child comes to you and tells you, 'I'm uncomfortable with the way this person's looking at me or the comments this person's making to me'—no matter how entwined you are with their lives, if they're family or they're friends that you feel as family—you need to remove your child from that situation."

Jasmine has a message for kids who feel that something isn't right but don't know what to do. "If you think something is wrong, go find someone. Tell someone," she says. "If they don't believe you, if you have to, tell a police officer, anybody you can trust. Because if you hold it inside, it just kills you. It breaks you down."
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FROM: Internet Predators: How Bad Is It?
Published on September 15, 2008

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