Mom busts sex offender after snooping on daughter's Facebook

Jan 6, 2016 at 12:33 p.m. ET
Image: Shironosov/Getty Images

It's a dilemma many parents face: How much, if at all, should they monitor their teen's online activity? We of course want to have an honest, trusting relationship with our kids, but as parents, our first priority is the safety of our children. One mom in New York trusted her gut and logged on to her daughter's Facebook page to see what she had been up to. And lo and behold, she found a sex offender trying to meet up with her.

The mom, whose daughter is under 15 years old, was looking at her child's Facebook activity when she saw a man she didn't recognize. His name was Dennis Williams, and he seemed to be trying to arrange a meeting with her daughter. According to police, the messages from Williams, who's 33, were somewhat innocuous at first. But as time went on, they became more sexual in nature.

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Knowing something wasn't right, the mom began doing a little investigating. She discovered that Williams was in fact a Level 2 sex offender who had tried to distribute indecent material to a minor six years ago. She immediately contacted police.

Investigators posed as the woman's daughter, and they say Williams quickly texted them naked photos of himself. He reportedly expressed that he was excited to meet her and drove to the mall to see her. However, instead of seeing the girl, Williams found the police, and he was immediately arrested. Cops also say that the same day he contacted the young girl, he had sent messages to hundreds of other girls on Facebook. Police credit the mom for monitoring her child's social media activity for the arrest and have since alerted other local parents about Williams' potential Facebook messages.

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No parent wants their kids to think of them as a snoop or someone who doesn't trust them (or who will read their diary the moment they leave the room!). But at the end of the day, when it comes to our kids' safety, we need to go with our gut and do whatever we can in our power to protect them. If checking up on our kids' Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages every once in a while means keeping them safe, then that's exactly what we should do. After all, when kids are young and still living with their parents, things like cellphones and Internet are privileges.

Every family is different, and each parent's relationship with their children varies, but a smart idea may be for moms and dads to have a discussion with their children about the potential dangers that lie in social media and to convey that their well-being is the absolute top priority.

From the sound of things, this New York mom and her child had a strong relationship, and that's one of the things that led to the girl being spared as the potential victim of a sex offender. “They have a good enough relationship where the mom was monitoring her Internet activities, and in this case, it prevented what could have possibly been a very bad decision on her part as well as a criminal act on his," police said. And, of course, this mother's decision to call police may have saved other girls as well.

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Every parent wants their kids to like them, but ultimately we're not here to be their friends. We're here to be their parents and to protect them in any way we can. And if checking their Facebook pages on occasion helps protect them, so be it.

Would you ever check your child's Facebook page?