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Missing teen found in Iowa, highlights danger of social apps

Joy Martin

SAUGATUCK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A missing West Michigan girl has been found safe in Iowa.

Police say 16-year-old Joy Martin, a student at Saugatuck High School, left home voluntarily on Saturday night after talking with someone on a messaging app.

It’s a situation that any parent would find alarming, their child, missing after talking with someone on a messaging app designed for secrecy.

Joy Martin’s family has a message for any parents who may encounter a similar situation.

Family members describe Joy Martin as a great kid, hard-working, loving, always hanging out with her parents, so when she disappeared, apparently to meet someone she was talking to on a messaging app called KIK, they were shocked.

“We didn’t see it coming,” said Joy’s father Allen Martin. “When we realized she was gone and out together, what was going on we were absolutely floored.”

Now that Joy has been found safe, her father is urging West Michigan parents to be alert about the social media that their children are using.

“Don’t just assume that you know what your child is doing,” said Allen, “because professionals really had to dig to uncover what they found and she’s 16 years old.”

KIK is a free mobile messaging app that allows users to text friends that are also using the app.

Experts point out that the app has the ability to match users up with strangers for conversation.

Joy’s uncle, Edward Martin, who has kids of his own, says he finds social apps overwhelming.

“As a parent, it’s hard to keep up with that,” said Edward. “It’s hard to keep up with all this stuff, but you need to get educated, you need to talk to people.”

Allen Martin points out that there is only so much that parents can do, and recommends that they communicate with their children as best they can.

“You have to be as close as you can with your kids,” said Allen, “and just wing it and figure it out before something like this happens.”

Joy’s parents are headed to central Iowa to pick her up. Police say she is safe and in good health.

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