Father of teen abuse victim advises parents to be vigilant

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INDIANAPOLIS – As a parent, you’ve probably thought about it. Will you see the warning signs if your child is having an inappropriate relationship with an authority figure?

We’ve seen one case of it just this week, as former Greenwood High School teacher and coach Timothy Guilfoy resigned Sunday, after admitting to having a sexual relationship with one of his students.

FOX59 talked to a father who’s dealt with the situation first hand.

The father said it’s not uncommon for parents to turn a blind eye and think “not in my backyard.” He said parents need to be advocates for their children and talk to them early.

“You need to have conversations. The children need to know that they can come home to the parents, that they can tell them what’s going on, and they won’t be to blame,” said the father.

He speaks from experience. Back in 2010, former Lawrence North Swim Coach Christopher Wheat pleaded guilty to child sex charges. The father’s 14-year-old child was that victim.

“Kids need people that they can trust also, and kids look up to teachers so much,” said Kim Copeland, mother of a 16-year-old.

Copeland just had that talk with her daughter, Carrie. Given that, a new texting program her daughter’s using provides some peace of mind.

“You can go back and look at those messages. The parents can see them as well,” said Carrie Copeland.

Carrie talks to one of her teachers through text, but the catch is neither Carrie nor her teacher has each others’ phone number.

“It just offers another level of protection. It puts parents into the equation,” said Stacey Peters, a local teacher.

Peters is a math teacher, coach, and club sponsor at Plainfield High School. He texts student leaders through a program developed in Indiana called Protega Text.

“Yes. It’s a bit sad that you have to build those layers of protection in. But at the same time, it’s the nature of it,” he said.

The students and the teacher provide their cell numbers. The program allows them to talk to one another through alternate numbers, while monitoring the conversation and sending update emails to parents.

“I think it’s an excellent, excellent program,” said Kim Copeland.

Copeland said it’s another tool that will hopefully keep kids safe.

The father we talked with agrees.

“You need to monitor the communication because the predators hope you don’t. That’s where they find their victims,” he said.

The creator of the Protega Text program told FOX59 it’s in the early stages. He is trying to get it off the ground. You can find more information on that program by clicking here.

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