This generation is an internet generation. We all know how the internet has played a vital role in bringing people across the globe closer to one another. We are able to make friends from different countries of the world sitting right in our homes. I myself have made friends from other countries whom I have never met in the course of my blogging journey. It’s a great feeling. But do we realize as every other thing on this earth the internet has also it’s pros and cons especially when it comes to kids using the internet? The kids when chatting with strangers are at great risk of being lured and groomed by the predators into their targeted victims. One such shocking story is of Alicia Kozakiewicz who was lured by a stranger on the internet when she was just 13. The man later abducted, raped and tortured her brutally. After being rescued, Alicia has been working on raising awareness against child abuse through the internet. Hre’s the full story of this brave woman Alicia.
Alicia Kozakiewicz, 31, is an American tv personality, a motivational speaker, and an advocate for internet safety and missing persons. She has founded the Alicia Project- an advocacy group to raise awareness about online predators, abduction, and child sexual exploitation. Alicia works with PROTECT to help ‘Alicia’s Law’, in all 50 states of the US. Alicia’s Law provides a steady stream of state-based funding to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces. She has worked with the tv channels and ID, to educate people, and bring change for Internet safety, missing children, human trafficking, and child safety awareness.
At the age of 13, Alicia started chatting online with a stranger she thought to be a boy of her age group. This person was actually a 38-year-old man named Scott Tyree living in Herndon, Virginia. Tyree approached her in a chat room. In a year, he groomed the young Alicia. Alicia’s family computer was kept in the family room where her internet activity could be monitored, so Tyree contacted her at night while her family was asleep.
On 1st January 2002, Tyree lured Alicia into meeting him near her home. He took her into his car to his home in Virginia. He held Alicia captive for four days, shackled her with a dog collar, raped, and tortured her in the basement of his house. He even went on to record videos of the sexual abuse and shared it online. He also went ‘live’ for people to witness his assaults on the minor girl.
Alicia’s family filed a missing complaint about her. A person in Florida recognized Alicia from news stories and a missing person flier from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. He reported about her to the FBI. The FBI, using the Yahoo username tracked Tyree’s IP address and found his home in Herndon. The FBI agents broke into his house on January 4, 2002, and found Alicia tied to the bed with dog collar extremely scared. They freed Alicia and arrested Tyree 30 minutes later from his workplace in Herndon.
After this life-changing episode, Alicia suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even lost her memory of life before her abduction. She took counseling sessions to overcome the trauma. Alicia says that in 2002 people could not understand how and why this had happened; they blamed her for the abuse, only a few were supportive and empathetic.
Alicia’s story is an eye-opener for all of us. It shows the grave dangers of kids and teenagers using the internet without adult supervision. Children are innocent and can trust anyone who talks to them lovingly. So, it’s our responsibility as parents, teachers, and society to teach our kids about the stranger-danger and the safety precautions they should use while using the internet.