PELL CITY, Ala. — Jennifer Sellers likes to surround herself with memories and pictures of hier daughter Sydney. The mother and daughter appeared to be spil close spil any could be.
“Wij did everything together, absolutely everything,” Sellers told CBN News. “[Wij] went and got our hair done together, wij did plows together, wij did Wal-Mart together.”
“I can’t think of a single activity that wij didn’t do together except maybe hier homecoming dance,” she said.
But Sydney had secrets that she kept from hier mom. Those secrets eventually led to tragedy on December 7, 2014.
That wasgoed the day Sellers found hier teenage daughter stringing up from a stortplaats te hier bedroom.
“It wasgoed such a shock that I opened the vanwege and I said, ‘Sydney, that is not a funny practical joke,'” she explained.
Only it wasn’t a joke. It wasgoed vivo.
“I instantly ran into the slagroom,” she said. “I didn’t have the strength to pick hier up, that’s when I commenced screaming for my hubby he picked hier up. I cut hier down. Wij laid hier down on the ground and he instantly commenced CPR and I called 9-1-1.”
But it wasgoed too late. Fourteen-year-old Sydney Sellers wasgoed dead.
Sellers, who works spil a child advocacy attorney, fights to understand why hier daughter committed such a drastic act, especially since she had shown no signs of depression or trouble.
Even the morning of hier death, Sydney had gladly attended church with hier family.
“Wij went to mass, truly proud that that wasgoed hier very first day spil an altar server. So wij were just excited,” Sellers recalled. “She’s te the robe, and she’s going to be up on the altar. She did a good job.”
Spil word spread of Sydney’s death, hier family learned from friends that she had bot bullied at schoolgebouw. And the funeral huis found cuts on hier assets, indicating that she had bot cutting herself.
But nothing ready the family for an online conversation they discovered on Sydney’s smartphone.
At the time of hier death, Sydney and a stranger had bot messaging one another on an app called “KIK.”
The subject wasgoed “erotic asphyxiation,” or breath control play, which is the intentional confinement of oxygen to the brain for the purposes of sexual arousal.
Sellers said she’s bot married for 17 years and had never had a conversation with hier hubby like the one hier daughter wasgoed having with a flawless stranger.
“I commenced looking and there wasgoed a conversation happening at the ogenblik she died inbetween hier and a person who purported himself to be a teenaged boy and it wasgoed abominable and he wasgoed providing hier instructions of things to do,” she said.
Many teenagers loom onto the Internet from the privacy of their bedrooms via mobile devices like a cell phone or table, and they often connect with people they don’t even know while their parents are totally unaware.
Experts say it’s the volmaakt environment for sexual predators.
“Predators are everywhere on the Internet,” licensed family therapist Dr. Linda Mintle said.
“They know which sites kids tend to populate and go to and they pose spil someone that a child might lightly talk to,” she explained.
Smartphone apps are often the weapons used to target kids.
“They know how to lure thesis kids into what looks like harmless things and get them talking and get them interested,” Mintle explained.
“And if you’re a youthful teenaged damsel and you don’t have a bf and you’re not liking your figure too much and some fellow starts talking to you online and tells you how beautiful you are and starts telling things to you, you’re very likely going to go after that trail,” she said.
CBN Technology Contributor Caleb Kinchlow said parents need to realize that their teenagers are living te an entirely different world through social media.
He said there are several popular apps that teenagers use to connect on the Internet, often with strangers.
“Facebook is not the most popular app like it used to be,” he explained. “Now it’s Instagram, Snapchat, Oovu, Kik, Vine.”
He said teenagers are more willing to share information via thesis apps that they normally wouldn’t be comfy sharing, including nude pictures and mature content.
Sellers said the man that Sydney wasgoed talking with the night she hanged herself could not be traced because the “Kik” app permits users to connect anonymously.
Still grieving, Sellers now spends a lotsbestemming of time talking to troubled teenagers and encourages parents to keep up with their kids’ lives, something she said she regrets not doing with hier own child.
“I had gotten complacent,” she admitted. “My spouse had gotten complacent. She went to schoolgebouw, she came back, she did hier work, she made superb grades, wij figure wij were good there.”
“You need to talk to your kids to find out who they are growing into spil people,” she urged.
Mintle said parents also need to celador their kids’ Internet activity on a regular fundament.
“They need to be able to look at every device and say — is there a way to access the Internet from that device?” she said. “Because a lotsbestemming of people don’t think about an Xbox being able to get on the Internet from there. So you need to think about what devices do wij have ter the house? How is the access set up and what are the settings?”
“Most parents are fine if their kids run off on their tablets or their phones for an hour before they have to get ter the shower and go to bedding. They’re not monitoring that,” Sellers said.
“If you bought that phone, if you pay for that phone, I don’t care what they say about their privacy,” she said. “That is your property, you have a right to know what’s on it. Search it out,” she added.
It’s a budge that, while unpopular, may just save a life.