Missing teen back home safe, dad warns of social media dangers

Missing teen back home safe, dad warns of social media dangers

NORTH OLMSTED, OH (WOIO) - A North Olmsted dad is very thankful his daughter is back home. The 15-year-old had been missing since Friday, and was possibly lured away by a stranger on social media.

North Olmsted police believe the teen ran away from her parents' house. Cleveland 19 is not naming the teen because she is underage, and to protect her family's privacy.

A distraught family hung up "missing" posters for their 15-year-old daughter Tuesday evening in the neighborhood where she was last seen on the west side of Cleveland. She'd been missing for four days.

Her friends told her dad she ran away to be with someone she met online. Her dad says he didn't even know she had a Facebook account until this happened.

"We knew she had internet access, and was using a phone. She was using her sister and brother's phone, but she didn't have a phone (herself)," he said.

Her dad fears who she really met online.

"That's the scariest part of all, is not knowing. I've never met this girl, I never saw this girl besides a picture," he said.

Tears soon turned to joy. Cleveland 19 was there as her dad got the news his daughter was safe. There was an emotional reunion at the police station about 30 minutes later.

Unfortunately, this happens to families too often. So how can people keep their children safe on social media? Experts from Parenting.com say parents need to get involved. People should know their child's "online playground." They recommend staying nearby when they're online or checking in on them when they're older. Parents should also know when their teen is online and set a time limit. Parents can let them know they need permission to be on certain websites and set parental controls on the computer if necessary. Most importantly, tell the child or teen never to give out information like their name, phone number, email address or school to someone they don't know.

Experts say if your child is on Facebook or Instagram, parents need to be on there too, whether they want to be or not. Parents should know how the social media site works and also friend their child so they can see what they're doing.

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.