No one really wants to think that Sex Trafficking could happen to them or even worse, their kids. The truth is everyone can become vulnerable. Here’s what parents need to know about sex trafficking and how to keep kids safe.
In the past several years I’ve learned a lot about all forms of human trafficking, but more recently I needed to know exactly what it looks like in my city, how it affects “regular” kids, and what I can do about it.
I spoke with a representative from Eye Heart World, a local organization working to combat sex trafficking in the U.S. This is what I learned:
Human Trafficking is happening in every county in my state.
If it’s happening here I’m going to go ahead and say it’s happening where you live as well. A big piece of it is labor trafficking, but in this post, I’m going to talk specifically about sex trafficking.
We’ve all heard stories or seen movies where girls are taken, stolen and sold into sexual slavery. The truth is that’s not typically how sex trafficking happens.
Many times the victims are children who grew up in great families. They don’t have issues with drugs or partying, yet they still end up being trafficked and this is how:
- Teens or pre-teens get angry at their parents.
- It doesn’t matter how great the parents are, it happens.
- They take their anger to social media, posting about how awful their parents are and use hashtags such as #ihatemymom or #mylifesucks.
- Traffickers are interested in one thing – making money.
- They are skilled in their craft.
- They prey on kids who are angry with their parents or have any type of problem at home.
- Traffickers know how to speak 13-year-old lingo!
- They will befriend “good kids” on social media and spend up to a year building a relationship.
- Eventually, they arrange a face to face meeting.
- Traffickers work in different ways to take the victim to the next level.
- Buying the victim gifts or playing with their emotional state
- Traffickers will do whatever is necessary to build trust and eventually control their victims.
How does a friendship turn into Sex Trafficking?
You may be asking yourself how this huge leap takes place. Here’s a common scenario:
A trafficker will invite a girl (his victim) for a weekend away or to a party. The victim is excited and goes. The trafficker gives the girl a lot of alcohol or drugs. She passes out. He then allows 5 men to have sex with her. She wakes up naked and doesn’t know what happened.
The trafficker shows the girl pictures of the night and all the men she has had sex with. He tells her that if she doesn’t continue to do it he will ruin her life by telling her parents and friends what she has done.
The trafficker now has control over his victim.
This is just one of the many ways traffickers work. They are skilled in their craft. They see people as property that they can use to become rich.
Here’s what we can do to protect our children and loved ones:
- PARENTS: know what your kids are doing!
- Know where they are and who they are with at all times.
- Have regular check-ins.
- MONITOR ALL ELECTRONIC DEVICES!
- Teach young people about trafficking.
- Tell them the lies that traffickers use.
- When the lies have already been exposed they lose their power.
- Remind teenagers that people on social media are strangers.
- We do not know who is behind a cute photo.
- Make social media profiles private.
- Don’t ever tag your current location in a social media post.
Small steps in the right direction change the world. Applied knowledge is power.
You can read more about human trafficking, how to identify it in public places, and what to do about it here.