Risky Behavior: 30% of teen girls will meet online friend face to face

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Updated: 2/18/2013 7:15 pm
SAN ANTONIO - An online meeting lead to violence in Uvalde, where the district attorney says 24-year-old Andres Rodriguez cut his 15-year-old girlfriend's throat last month, and the two originally met on Facebook.

"We've had a young girl who was on HannahMontana.com who thought she was talking to a same age young man. He ended up being a 41-year-old man," Clarissa Zamora said.  She's the Education and Outreach Coordinator with ChildSafe, an advocacy organization that helps abused children and their parents deal with trauma.

"I love to give the quote of a child predator who said, 'if you don't want to give your kid attention, don't worry. I will. If you don't want to give your child love, don't worry. I will,'" she said.

A new study published in the journal of Pediatrics finds nearly one-third, or 30 percent, of girls age 14 to 17 will meet up with someone face to face that they met online. According to the study, abused or neglected girls are more likely to present themselves online in a sexually provocative way and internet filtering software may not stop your child's risky behavior, but you can.

"I love practicing 'what if' situations with my kids," Zamora said. "What would happen if you were online and all of a sudden someone said, 'hey I'd like to meet you,' or 'hey, what are you doing?' Would you give out that information?"

She says even watching the news with your child could be a good lesson.

"Even go so far as showing them one of the news clips of the child that got caught with an online sexual predator and say, 'I don't want this to happen to you, and this is why we have to have this conversation,'" she said.

Zamora says you shouldn't keep your kids in the dark, because that could have dangerous consequences.

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