Editor's note: Often Patch readers will recognize or know the people involved in a story and will leave comments that reveal additional details. Please respect the privacy of the girl and reporting person in this case, and do not provide any details about which school or who these people are.
Police said a recent case in Anne Arundel County reaffirms the need for parents to monitor young people when it comes to online communications and texting activities.
A counselor in a county public school received information from an anonymous source on Sept. 6 that a 12-year-old girl was planning to run away from home, according to a press release from Anne Arundel County police. The girl was reportedly going to meet her teenage boyfriend who lived in another state.
Police said the counselor referred the information to a school administrator, who worked with the school resource officer to contact the girl’s parents or guardians.
"They obtained permission to speak with the student, and they received permission to access the child’s social media account and cellular phone data," according to the police press release.
The school resource officer suspected the “boyfriend” was actually a man in his 20s who misrepresented his age and knew the girl was only 12, according to police.
The school resource officer contacted a district detective and they were able to obtain information about the man's identity. Law enforcement in the state where the man lives confirmed the man was 25 years old and was communicating with the 12-year-old, according to the press release.
Police said the investigation uncovered images of child pornography, and the investigation concerning possession of these images is ongoing.
Although no crime was committed in Maryland, police said a "dangerous and potentially deadly situation was averted" and that the girl and her family were offered psychological crisis counseling.
Police ask that the media and the public "understand the potential emotional harm that could arise from publicly disclosing information identifiable to the young person’s peers."