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Movie warns teens of Internet predators

POSTED: April 24, 2013 4:00 a.m.

Parents who screened a movie Saturday hope the intended message hits home with their teenagers.

"Finding Faith" tells the true story of a family's battle to rescue their 14-year-old daughter who falls victim to an online predator.

The full-length feature stars television personality Erik Estrada, national celebrity spokesman for the film's creators, Safe Surfin' Foundation.

Sara Rossback, 13, a seventh-grader at Dawson County Middle School, said she and her friends have seen the dangers of Internet crime on children.

"There was this guy my friend was talking to on social networking. It turned out he was actually 23 and he was actually a child predator," she said.

The thought of a man posing as a teen to get closer to young girls scares her mother to death.

"Children are much more trusting to begin with than an adult and so they're willing to give out information because they think that person on the other end is friendly or is their age," said Ruthanne Rossback. "It's scary to me. It's very, very scary to me."

According to Dean Haskins, who composed the music for the movie and spoke about the film before Saturday's screening at First Baptist Church of Dawsonville, said Finding Faith was produced to "give you a tiny glimpse of the dark underbelly that exists on the Internet."

"There is a 100 percent chance [each teen in the room] will be approached online by a predator," he said.

Mary Huggins brought her 12-year-old daughter Leah to watch the film to reinforce the "possible dangers of strangers on the Internet."

"She was actually approached by a predator," Huggins said. "The person presented himself as someone who went to an adjoining county school and was a year older than she was. He was a man, probably around my age, in his 40s."

Huggins learned of the online contact when Leah was at a friend's house and the man initiated an Internet chat, not expecting to receive a reply from the girl's mother.

"I actually replied myself and told him not to ever contact us again, that we didn't know who he was and if he ever contacted my daughter again, I'd have the authorities involved," she said.

Leah Huggins said she's thankful her mom took action.

"You've got to be cautious," she said.

Donations collected at the free screening, which included an appearance by Estrada, will help fund a computer-based system for law enforcement to use in the war on Internet crime against children.

"The more cops we put online, the more predators they'll be able to take offline," Haskins said.

 

 

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