BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PIX11) — A Ring camera showed a 12-year-old girl running from her great-grandmother’s house in Brooklyn last Saturday at 11:40 p.m. The girl had apparently made a plan to rendezvous with a Bronx teen she was chatting with on Instagram.
Kylasyia Thompson, lead program assistant with the nonprofit “Girl Vow,” said adolescents, especially those coming out of a long pandemic, are not being careful online.
“So, when they’re on social media, they’re looking at that to be ‘my happy place,'” Thompson observed. “I’m free. But to the predators, it’s like, ‘Oh, This is how I can get my girls.'”
The Brooklyn 12-year-old and the people she was with apparently became unnerved when her disappearance was plastered online, three days after she left home. By Tuesday night, she had contacted her mother and she reunited with her father in Harlem.
The most recent 12-year-old to go missing seems part of a disturbing trend of girls the same age getting caught up with older people they meet on social media platforms.
Back in September, a 12-year-old girl didn’t come home from middle school on Staten Island. Her mother told PIX11 News she had once caught her daughter online at age 11, talking late at night with an older man, using a DOE-issued school computer.
“I wake up, open her door, and she’s talking to someone with her shirt off,” the mother recalled.
The girl was found riding the Staten Island Ferry by an alert passenger, a month after she disappeared.
In October, another 12-year-old girl went missing — this time, in Ronkonkoma on Long Island —and police located her six days later in Copiague in the home of a 17-year-old male. He was criminally charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Thompson of Girl Vow said adolescents and young teens are often prime targets for sex traffickers.
“All those young ages are being sex trafficked, they’re easy to control,” Thompson said.
She said narcotics are often utilized.
“They’re drugging them; they’re keeping them controlled with medication,” Thompson said.
Thompson spoke about the heartbreaking story of a Queens girl, slightly older at 14, who met online predators while chatting on a popular basketball app.
The girl left home for short periods and then disappeared for six months in October 2021. Her parents heard about sightings of her with an older man in Brooklyn. One morning, they received a call from Staten Island police. The girl had been thrown out of a car that traveled from New Jersey into Staten Island. She told her mother she had been trafficked.
“Drugged up. Locked up. Had men coming in and out,” the mother told PIX11 News in April.
Thompson said she and Girl Vow CEO Dawn Rowe visited the girl three days after she was freed, and she was still withdrawing from drugs.
“Fentanyl, heroin, crack, ecstasy,” Thompson recalled. “Her mind wasn’t all the way there. She was still stuck in the moment of being in the car.”
Thompson said the victim, now 15, is doing better, yet she needs supportive medication as she weans off powerful drugs.