Dangers of Technology: Indiana mom shares story of daughter who became victim to human trafficking

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(WNDU) - In a world ruled by technology, protecting your children from the uncertainty of the internet can be a challenge. Many parents and teens are in the dark about the dangerous side of technology.

Crista Miller

One Indiana mom never could have guessed her daughter would become the next victim of human trafficking.

She describes what can happen when the wrong people are allowed into your home. Not physically letting strangers through your doors, rather, giving them access to your personal space in ways you cannot control.

“Those parameters of where we used to be able to allow who we wanted in our home. That's gone because of the internet,” said Crista Miller, whose daughter became a victim of human trafficking.

Crista Miller stands before an auditorium of parents and teens at Tippecanoe Valley High School, warning them about what she and her teenage daughter experienced.

“We were told that 48 hours was the optimal time to find her, and we found her in 38 hours. We were very lucky. But I have never felt so alone, so helpless and so desperate,” said Miller.

After battling depression and trying to take her life, last year, Crista's daughter ran away from home.

She ended up a victim of human trafficking.

“Our child ran away with some friends, ended up leaving the friends and walking away to a McDonald’s and just reached out to anybody in her snapchat group,” said Miller.

Crista says a man who her daughter never met, but was a “friend of a friend” reached out and said he would pick her up.

“Still to this day said that her intentions were for him to take her to school and he did not. He took her to an apartment with a table and a mattress, and that was all there was in that apartment when they found her. And the three men that were there with her, of course, that had no intentions of doing anything nice to her,” said Miller.

With help from authorities and two teenagers, Crista's daughter was found at that apartment, located within two miles of their Fort Wayne home.

“The best way I can describe it, and this is really what I tell everyone, is that if you walked out of a burning building, would you let someone else walk in? No, you wouldn't,” said Miller.

At Tippecanoe Valley High, the community is no stranger to loss.

“We experienced three student suicides in a single school year and there were some suicides in the community as well. At that point our community was hurting really bad,” said Brett Boggs, superintendent, Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation.

The school corporation began a Mental Health Task Force, focusing on awareness and training.

“I think our kids here now know that when they hear somebody talking about suicide or they say something that maybe leads them to believe that they're going to hurt themselves, or even thinking about that, it's okay to let somebody know, you need to let somebody know,” said Boggs.

“My biggest advice to all parents is to have grace with your children. Because some kids get in over their heads and the worst possible thing that could happen is they run away and get into the hands of the wrong people or they commit suicide, because they don't know how to handle it themselves. Be a parent of grace,” said Miller.

Now, Crista and an FBI special agent travel Northern Indiana to share her story, hoping to prevent other teens from falling victim to the dangers of technology.

The FBI agent who spoke at this lecture could not be filmed since he does undercover work to catch sexual predators, but he warned of cell phone vault apps that all parents should know about.

They have the sole purpose of hiding information.

Perhaps it's disguised as a calculator and acts as one too; however, it also transforms into a storage locker for pictures, videos and notes your teens don't want you to know they have.

In regard to her daughter’s discovery, Crista says because the case is still under investigation, she’s been advised not to discuss any matters involving it.

Additionally, her daughter is still a minor. She was only 15 years old at the time of this incident, all the more reason to keep details of the case close to the vest.

To watch the 11-minute video, Crista’s Story, that she plays at all her speaking engagements, click here.

To report a tip, get help or simply learn more about human trafficking, click here for the National Human Trafficking Hotline website, or call 1-888-373-7888.