Unco same internet dating
Although I know parents are advised that computers with internet access should be in a communal area of the home, it just wasn't feasible to line up their computers in the sitting room. They've always been sensible and well-behaved and there was no reason to believe either of them would be lured away by a stranger they met online.
Yet, with hindsight, the warning signs were there just after Christmas, when we noticed Samantha was spending more time on the internet.
I was advised to keep a close eye on her, not to over-react and set firm guidelines about when she should be home. I repeated that we knew nothing about him and that she was too young to get involved like this.
So that's what we did, but Samantha continued to behave oddly. Tears and tantrums followed and although Samantha gave us an address where she said she'd be staying, we told her quite categorically "No". She said she'd go to Milton Keynes with her friends instead, as usual.
It's hard to explain just how much we have suffered in the past few months.
While I try not to fear the worst, I feel incredibly guilty that her father and I were not able to protect her from the dangers of the internet.
When 15-year-old Samantha found a boyfriend in an internet chatroom, her parents were worried. And five months ago their beloved daughter vanished into thin air...
There's not much for youngsters in the small market town of Buckingham where we live, so they would catch the bus into Milton Keynes, 15 miles away, where they liked to browse the clothes shops and go to the cinema, returning home by about 6.30pm.
After one such trip in January, Samantha came home with a bag full of goodies. "A boy from school," she replied and I thought nothing of it. She then began getting calls on her mobile which went on for hours and often left her upset and tearful.
"Paul bought them for me," she said, showing me her new cuddly toys, makeup and hairbands. But the next two Saturdays, the same thing happened and the gifts became more extravagant, so I questioned her more closely about this lad. She admitted it was Paul who, alarmingly, would be talking about harming himself over something he thought she had said or done.
Samantha insisted he was 16 and had inherited some money from a relative. I wasn't happy, but the more I questioned Samantha, the angrier she became. I told her to hang up and not to speak to him because he was playing mind games.