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Mother of ‘abducted’ teenager blames internet

A thirteen year old Southampton girl and an only child, Michaela Montague, disappeared for five days after visiting an internet café on Valentine’s Day.

Michaela’s mother, Sasha Bryant, had banned her from using chat rooms at home after becoming concerned about who her daughter was making contact with.

Michaela’s mother, Sasha Bryant, had banned her from using chat rooms at home after becoming concerned about who her daughter was making contact with.

Michaela is refusing as yet to tell police or anyone else what exactly happened to her, saying she was just with a ‘friend’. However, it is strongly suspected that she was abducted by a paedophile she ‘met’ on the internet. Not only was she seen shortly before she disappeared talking to a man in a car near where she lived, but a stranger telephoned the family home while she was missing, apologising profusely.

Ms Bryant, voiced her concerns about the ease with which paedophiles can make direct contact with children via then web, saying, ‘My fear is that meeting someone on the internet sparked this off in the first place. There is every possibility she met up with someone she contacted via a chat room. Michaela learned her way round the internet very quickly, like all children her age do. She was very keen on the word wide web and when we first got a computer at home she was always logging on. Then she discovered chat rooms. I warned her about the dangers of them because you just do not know who you are talking to. People can pretend to be anything they seem when you cannot see them.’

By way of confirmation, Chris Gutteridge - a computer science expert at Southampton University – has been quoted as saying, ‘Chat rooms are easy to set up for those who know what they are doing and have the technology to do it. It’s simply sending text messages. The danger comes when you start passing on personal information. I think parents have to monitor what their children are doing when they are at the computer. Their children could be talking to their friends or playing a game, or they could be talking to a paedophile’.

Michaela was reunited safely with her mother following extensive appeals on local radio and tv. 

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