Parents warned of internet dangers

CARROLL COUNTY, Md. -  

Amanda Smith is back in the comfort of her lounge chair, back with new beginnings.

It was in this same place just three years ago where she sat, typing, while her mom was fooled.

"I actually was taking online courses for school and that just made it so much easier because my parents thought I was online doing my school work and I would sit there and I would talk to him," said Smith.  

Kari Smith was typically in the kitchen, comfortable that her oldest daughter was nearby.

Little did she know, she was meeting strangers while in plain view.  Her straight-A student was capable of the impossible.

"I would tell my friends all the time, teenage girls are great.  She talks to me about everything, she comes home from school and just debriefs," said Kari Smith.  

What Amanda left out stunned her parents and changed her life.  At 17, she wanted to branch out from Francis Scott Key High School in Carroll County and meet new people.

She did.  He was 30 years old and living in California.  The two chatted for a month before he flew across the country to meet her down the street.

"I was going to sneak out of the house and try to blend in the shadows as much as I could and just meet him at his car and go from there," said Amanda Smith.   

Amanda did that three nights in a row without her watchful parents knowing.  But when she turned 18, the guy's story changed.  He no longer wanted to be with her, and that's when she crashed down and came clean with her parents.

"Really we had absolutely no idea," said Kari Smith.   

The rule of being online near family wasn't enough.  A youth intervention officer with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office says putting your child online without monitoring software is like sending them to the big city alone.

"You have to remember that time does not equal trust.  Just because you talk to someone for three months, six months, or a year doesn't mean you know that person because you never met them in person," said Master Deputy Worthington Washington.

Washington teaches a phone number given through a chat room can lead a stranger to your doorstep.  Amanda is sharing her story publicly, hoping other teens think before trusting a stranger online.

She's in college now, but her life was put on hold for close to a year.

"I had been so emotionally attached in this relationship that by the time it was done I didn't know what to do with myself.  I honestly had suicidal thoughts, just wanting to self harm," said Amanda Smith.    

"Usually underneath all of this is something, some need of loneliness or just seeking something else, and so just really trying to know their hearts because that I think is the underlying issue," said Kari Smith. 

The Smith family has three younger daughters.  Instead of trusting their computer use in an open space, they are relying on monitoring software to track where the girls are spending time online. 

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

More Investigations

City leaders: Baltimore needs more officers to work security at events without breaking the bank City leaders: Baltimore needs more officers to work security at events without breaking the bank

For every Ravens touchdown and every Orioles inning, there are men and women in blue there to pay witness.  They're not watching the game.  They're watching you.  And no matter who wins, we found the money spent comes at a loss to the department.

Baltimore fighting back against illegal dumpers; harsher penalties to come this fall Baltimore fighting back against illegal dumpers; harsher penalties to come this fall

It's an eyesore, it's unsanitary, and it's a huge problem in Baltimore. The city spends about $17 million cleaning up illegal dumps each year, but the current penalties aren't deterring some people.

Baltimore officer gets 45 days in jail for assault of suspect in break-in of girlfriend Baltimore officer gets 45 days in jail for assault of suspect in break-in of girlfriend's home

A Baltimore City police officer was sentenced to 45 days in jail followed by 18 months of probation and 200 hours of community service for assaulting a man in police custody and then hindering the internal affairs investigation into the incident.

Daycare provider to get new trial after conviction in death of Eastern Shore baby Daycare provider to get new trial after conviction in death of Eastern Shore baby

An Eastern Shore woman convicted in the death of a child in her care will get a new trial thanks to a judge's decision.

Feds say search warrants turned up new evidence in Shawna Gunter case Feds say search warrants turned up new evidence in Shawna Gunter case

In a detention hearing in federal court, prosecutors detailed new evidence in their case against a Severna Park woman accused of posing as a physician's assistant.

Feds: Shawna Gunter, who posed as a physician Feds: Shawna Gunter, who posed as a physician's assistant and treated about 200 patients, indicted

An Anne Arundel County woman is indicted by the feds for posing as a physician's assistant and treating patients.

Many pot tests, but no certainty how much is too much Many pot tests, but no certainty how much is too much

Zero tolerance for pot has been the norm for decades for workplace drug testing, and, in most states, for policing drugged driving. But with millions of Americans now legally able to use pot for either medical purposes or outright, there’s growing demand to know how much is too much to safely drive or perform on the job.

 

 

 

Law enforcement agencies working to find balance in Law enforcement agencies working to find balance in 'thin blue line'

Across the region, police agencies say they don’t tolerate harassment among officers, though there’s no cut and dried solution.

GAO report, victim advocates raise concerns over underreporting of cruise ship crime GAO report, victim advocates raise concerns over underreporting of cruise ship crime

When it comes to cruising, people put a lot of time and energy into researching the prices, amenities and destinations. But according to a recent government report, consumers may not be as informed as they should be about the safety and security on these vessels.

Federal employees are flying high on taxpayers’ dime Federal employees are flying high on taxpayers’ dime

Would you spend more than $16,000 to upgrade to a business class flight? Our investigation found one agency let a top executive use your tax dollars to do just that.