When we hear about human trafficking, we think it’s this distant tragedy that happens overseas or far away from where we live, far away from our communities. Sadly, this is far from being true. Modern-day slavery is very real everywhere.
So, what does this tell you? Traffickers are always scouting for targets, and unfortunately, the best target is children because of their youth. The human trafficking industry thrives as long as there is a demand for children by perpetrators. Perpetrators are not going anywhere so that means that as parents and as active members of our communities, we must be knowledgeable and share the knowledge about this horrific reality; our children are in danger.
What can you do?
You cannot see what your mind does not know. In other words, you must educate yourself on the reality of what human trafficking is, how your children are at risk, and what to do to protective measures. For instance, you must know that if you have children, they are considered a target for human trafficking. The best defense against dangers is to be aware of what are the dangers and build safety parameters. Develop rules and guidelines that will help you keep your children safe. What kind of guidelines? Guidelines that are directly related to their internet usage.
Check your child’s cell phone. Monitor internet usage. Speak to your children about what child trafficking is and how to remain safe. Most importantly, develop a good relationship with your children. This means that it’s up to you to establish the kind of bond that makes them feel safe to come to you. That means that there is work to be done in your communication skills. You must parent from a place of kindness and not inflict fear. If your children fear you, they’ll be most likely to keep things from you leading them to develop secrets and that’s where the dangers lie.
Perpetrators know where to find your children. Therefore, this means that you must be fully engaged in all the things your children do, especially while they’re using their electronic devices. The age in which children are lured into the sex trafficking industry is fifteen and in most cases, it starts as early as twelve years old. Children who run away from their homes are the most at risk from being approached by a pimp or trafficker within the first forty-eight hours from running away from home. Understand that traffickers are experts in detecting vulnerability. So, it’s up to you to bring awareness to children about the realities of sex trafficking and what it looks like and how they can protect themselves.
What do traffickers look like?
We think that traffickers are those creepy men that drive in white vans. However, a trafficker can morph into the kind lady in a shopping mall that approaches your child, to a boyfriend, a boss, a friend’s uncle, and the list goes on. What does this tell you? That there is no such thing as one profile that fits the trafficker. What does this leave you with? It’s up to you to learn the signs that manifest when children are being trafficked and the behavioral patterns of traffickers. Traffickers live among us and can be anyone. It can be your child’s friend, and it can be a peer at school, a neighbor, etc. Sadly, children and teens can be trafficked in plain sight. Communicate these truths to your children. I know that you may be hesitant to speak to them about this because you don’t want to alarm them or have them live in fear, but it’s necessary to have these conversations because they must be careful and become protective of themselves.
Develop trust and a bond with your children by having these critical conversations regarding sex, sexual trafficking and how it can happen, as well as what the grooming process looks like.