NEW YORK — With over 10 million views in two days, a new YouTube video shows how willing teenage girls are to meet a stranger they have only ever talked to online.
22-year-old Coby Persin, a YouTube prankster, masquerades as a young boy named “Jason” and adds 13-year-old Mikayla, 12-year-old Juliana and 14-year-old Jenna as friends on Facebook. Within just three days of messaging, each girl agrees to meet him in person.
Persin came up with the predator experiment and enlisted parents’ help on Craigslist, all of which never thought their child would actually go through with the meeting.
“She said, 'OK I’ll be there in five minutes,'” Persin said about Mikayla.
Mikayla meets her online suitor alone at a playground, even though he looks nothing like his Facebook picture. Coming out of hiding, her father frantically yells the question every parent is asking.
“Mikayla! Are you crazy?" he said. "He could have been a rapist [or] a pedophile. Why would you do this?”
The second girl, Juliana, takes things a step further and invites "Jason" over to her home, thinking her parents are asleep.
“God, I hope she doesn’t open that door,” Juliana's father said.
She opens the door.
“What’s wrong with you? You could have been raped and murdered,” Juliana's father said. “We already lost your mother. What would I do if anything happened to you?"
The last girl, Jenna, agrees to not only meet her new friend but also get into his van.
"Jenna thinks her parents are going out tonight for date night,” Persin said. “She thinks my brother is going to be driving, so she's going to get in the car, but she doesn't actually know that it's all just me.”
He asks her parents if they think she will go through with it.
“Absolutely not. I don’t even believe it’s her,” Jenna’s mother said. “It’s probably one of her friends playing around with her.”
Her parents wear masks and participate as the roles of abductors in the experiment.
Jenna gets in but starts to scream and fight back when she thinks she’s being abducted. Her parents then take off their masks and take her phone right away.
"What would have happened if this van drove away and there were three strangers sitting [here]? What would you have done?" Jenna's father said. "What would we have done, if we didn't have our daughter?"
The three girls appear apologetic, shaken and embarrassed. The parents comfort them but agree there are serious conversations to be had and lessons to be learned.
The video ends with the statistic of "there are over 750,000 registered child predators in the United States," urging parents to "keep your kids safe."