From the outside, 14-year-old Sydney Sellers looked like she had it all together, but her sudden and shocking suicide proved that there was something much darker going on below the surface. Sydney's mother was looking through her daughter's cell phone after the suicide, hoping that she might find some little clue as to why her beloved daughter would take her own life. What Sydney's mother found is a parent's worst nightmare, and now she's sharing Sydney's story in the hopes that other parents can learn from this tragedy.
Sydney had always been a good student, and her parents had always perceived her to be happy; her mother explained that the day of Sydney's suicide, Sydney came home in a good mood and seemed bubbly as usual. This didn't add up for Sydney's parents, and that's why her mother decided to look through Sydney's phone. What she found was an app called 'Kik,' a messaging app that provides a high level of anonymity for its users, and can be easily exploited by predators. Much to Sydney's mother's horror, a conversation that was occurring at the time of Sydney's suicide revolved around erotic asphyxiation. Suddenly, Sydney's suicide didn't seem so unexplainable; Sydney's mother had found her daughter unresponsive, hanging from a belt tied to her loft bed.
Sydney's mother felt she had to share Sydney's story to warn other parents and help any other teenagers who may fall victim to situations like Sydney's. The app Kik is something to be very weary of - it has received a ton of bad press, and police have issued warnings
about the dangers of children using this app and others like it. Kik utilizes a system in which users are registered primarily through a username rather than an email address or phone number, making it very difficult to trace any particular activity back to a specific person. This kind of anonymity is terrifying; it gives predators the perfect medium to seek out victims. In an interview with The Trentonian
, a sexual predator who had previously been charged with possession of child pornography and endangering the welfare of a child revealed that apps like Kik are a virtual goldmine for predators like himself, saying, "I made a stupid username and within five minutes, I got 20 pictures. Kids are always on. You can even ask the kids on there to send pictures and they do. Those apps are well known in our industry." This is any parent's worst nightmare, but the first step to preventing the problem is being aware of how it could affect your child.
Have you ever heard of Kik messenger before? Did you know that sexual predators are using apps like this to prey on children? Do you have any advice for parents who are worried about their child's online interactions? Let us know in the comments below!