Human trafficking has become a global epidemic with millions of women, children, and men as victims. Human trafficking is when victims are recruited and transported across states, and even borders into other countries. These victims are then exploited for labor and/or sex. It is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and continues to grow. Parents dread having the sex talk with children, but it is really important to talk to them about it and how to stay safe in public and online. As much as people try to shield their kids from the bad things in the world, it is inevitable because it is all over the news and spoken about amongst friends. Awareness and education are key to prevention and protecting your kids.
The majority of victims are women and girls, about 75% of them to be exact. More than half of victims are sexually exploited. It is happening in our backyards. This past September, out of more than 300 missing kids in the state of Michigan, 123 were found. The police conducted a sting and were able to find these kids from a human trafficking ring. Put that into perspective, this is just in one county in Michigan. Imagine how much goes on in the rest of the U.S.
How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online
The average age a teen is forced into the human trafficking world is around 12-14 years old. Social media is used to contact these kids and lure them. Kids are plugged onto all forms of social media, and put out more of their business than they should. A predator will wait when the kid is feeling low and vulnerable to take advantage of luring them. Predators are not only men, women are often used to recruit other women.
Protecting children starts at home. Talk to your children about the dangers of social media. Everyone feels like it won’t happen to them, but it can and will if they are unaware of predators and their schemes. Make your children understand how easily it can happen to them and give examples, such as fake accounts and strangers messaging them for pics or asking about their day. Monitor your child’s social media accounts as often as you can.
Tips For Parents
- Communicate with your children. Have open communication with them and build a strong relationship. This way they can feel like they can talk to you about what is going on. Be a strong role model in your kids lives and take interest in their lives and activities.
- Even if you are running into the gas station store to give them money for your gas, never leave your kids in the car unattended.
- Teach your kids about inappropriate advances or language.
- Talk to your kids about human trafficking, what it is and how it happens.
- Talk to your children about people they should avoid, such as registered sex offenders around the neighborhood.
- Tell your kids to be aware of their surroundings when out in public and get help if someone is acting suspicious.
- Always know where your kids are, and make sure that you are always able to contact them.
- Monitor anyone that takes an unusual interest in your kid. Listen to your kid when they mention something odd going on.
- Teach them how and when to call 911. If they are home alone, teach them to never open the door and to avoid telling people they are home alone.
- Teach your kid the difference between an “okay” secret and a “not okay” secret.
Tips For Your Children
- If you are ever lost in a mall, ask a security guard or store clerk for help.
- Fight as hard as you can if you are ever taken by someone. Fight until they let you go or you can run away.
- If someone is threatening you, tell your parents, they will help you.
- If someone is asking you to do something that makes you uncomfortable or does not seem right, tell your parents.
Parents and guardians are responsible for the safety and well being of their children. Educate and help them understand the warning signs. Teach your kids to be aware of their surroundings in public, and any suspicious people around them that may be following them or observing them. If so, tell them to yell or get help immediately. Human trafficking is a growing criminal industry, and it can happen to your kid. You can protect your child from years of physical, and mental abuse they may face if taken. Educate them, spread awareness, and listen.