MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 14-year-old boy who had been reported as missing on Tuesday in Olive Branch has been found and declared safe.
John Aubrey Peal, who goes by his middle name Aubrey, was found in Illinois on Sunday.
We’re still unsure of specifics to what happened.
Just last week the family was pleading for help. Now, they’re just happy to have their son back home.
Aubrey’s father tells us his son met someone on the Discord Gaming app and was lured to a different state.
Callahan Walsh, an advocate for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says the most recent case he’s seen involved a 14-year-old girl chatting with someone from a different country who eventually showed up at her home with materials to harm her.
That’s why he says just because cyber cites and apps have policies to prevent safety, doesn’t mean parents should rely on that.
“What we see is the exploiters are savy to that. They’ll move the conversation to other areas that aren’t as regulated,” Walsh said.
When we spoke with the Peal’s on Friday, they told us about the gaming app.
They even shared terrifying stories about their friend’s children communicating with possible predators who promised them they would play games together.
Aubrey’s father was sick just thinking about the thought of his son possibly being told the same thing.
According to the Discord app’s website, it’s a free texting and chatting gaming app with more than 14 million players worldwide sending 315 million messages a day.
Walsh says parents should pay attention to what their children are doing on their game systems and phones, because they could be solicited by anyone.
“Make sure your children aren’t meeting anyone in the real world that they only know online. It’s also important for parents to set ground rules and stick to them. and then have ongoing conversations with your children about safety.”
The Discord apps media team sent us a statement saying:
We take our community’s safety very seriously and are constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures. Discord is an over 13 platform and we insist that all users adhere to this policy. All chats are opt-in so that the user must accept an invitation, and we urge our community only to chat with individuals whom they know. We have also created a number of security measures to help block unknown users from contacting others. As with any digital communication platform there are risks. We urge parents to teach their children the risks of communicating online and the importance of chatting to only those they know. We will continue to work with our community and law enforcement agencies when appropriate to develop the best practices to ensure our community’s safety.
They also provided a link to their parents page on their website that has helpful information.