by Kirby Gibbs
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The story of Julissa Rodriguez is a nightmare scenario for parents. But it's proof that they need to be on guard.
Adoloscent years can be a confusing time for teens, especially when problems' arise at home. Having a male role-model can have a significant impact just by being present.
Dr. Sid Epperson, Ph.D. of Angelina County Counselors advises to "Convey early on that she's smart, that she's pretty, that she's capable, that she has the ability to do those things that she desires to be able to do".
When a young lady isn't receiving support from even an uncle or grandfather, they begin looking to somebody else and Dr. Epperson says, if that person is a preditor, they know what to look for.
"Sometimes the guys get really good at figuring out what they want to hear and what they need to hear and so they tell them something that the young lady wants and needs to hear".
Preditors often seek out girls who are lonely, insecure, or crave affection.
"It sounds like love", warns Epperson, "but it's really this person's attempt to develop a closer relationship to kind of separate the individual from family and or friends. They'll often tell the young lady don't tell anybody else about our special relationship, it's just you and me."
Epperson encourages parents to know your kids, listen to what they have to say, and always look for signs to keep your kids safe.
Counselors say the best signs to look for are abrupt changes in your child's behavior, a change in their friends, and long periods of time spent on the computer.