With anti-human trafficking awareness day coming up on July 30, here are some ways that you can fight to end this malicious enterprise. And it starts in your own home.
Jaco Booyens discusses the importance of having a strong parent/child relationship. He says that if the child doesn’t feel that security over a small thing then there is no way they would go to their mom or dad with something big. Keep talking to your children about every little thing. Give them the validation and attention they crave when they come to you for anything. He says that one of the ways traffickers target children is through attention because that is what they are missing from their parents. They are desperate for it and if they can’t get it where they need it most they will jump the moment it comes knocking. Traffickers know that.
Perhaps the most effective way to keep children safe is having an open line of communication. Parents, inform yourselves of the dangers of social media and then talk to your children about them. If kids don’t learn from their parents they will figure it out on their own via the internet, most often with a negative outcome.
It is the duty of parents to protect their children from everything, even the things that don’t seem like a threat. When social media was created it seemed harmless, in many ways it still is, but now traffickers have taken advantage of something that was supposed to be good and used it for evil.
Be vigilant of your child’s behavior. Who are their friends? If they are on social media, what accounts are they following? What are they doing on it? What kind of video games are they playing? When they aren’t on social media, how is their behavior? Are they lashing out in anger? Are they reclusive? How are their interactions with their family? These are all tell-tail signs that something is wrong. It might not be that they are a victim or target of sexual exploitation, but at the very least they need help and they are begging for it.
Know The Ins and Outs of Social Media
Social media has become rather vast over the last few years. This is the prime tool traffickers and pedophiles are using to find children to abuse.
Predators will look at a child’s social media, read their posts, and learn about them. They find what the child is missing – attention, love, possessions, or other things – and they use that missing link to fill the void and bait the child, says Dr. Roe-Sepowitz.
Even if the child isn’t seeking the content it will find them. Predators go looking for children. They will dm them, as mentioned above, but suggestive content can also be found in the search engine feature of social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
Once the predator finds their next target they will begin the long grooming process. At first, the conversation seems potentially innocent and harmless, but is actually the roots of a never ending hell. After the predator has built trust with the child, using various methods to do so, they will convince them to send a sexual image. After receiving the image they use it as blackmail to get more images or videos and threaten to expose the photo to family or on social media. They convince the child that it was their fault and that if their family and friends knew they would be hated and punished. The child is trapped and the risk of them being trafficked increases drastically.
Collin Kartchner is a social media advocate and educates parents, children, and schools on the dangers of social media. One day, he polled his large following (at 150k as of today) and asked the children ages 10-17 if they have a private account and have ever received a dm that said “click here” with links to porn or other explicit content within the last month [of the time he set up the poll]. 72% said yes. That’s astonishing.
The problem is right there and parents don’t even know it.
We all know the phrase: if you see something, say something. The only way to stop this weed is to destroy it at the root. We must be watching all the time. If anything at all seems suspicious report it. That could mean reporting an account to the social media platform or even getting law enforcement authorities involved. For more information on how to find signs of child trafficking visit: ourrescue.com.
But most importantly, GET LOUD! Join millions across the world to fight to end human trafficking. July 30 may be it’s recognized day, but we have to be loud everyday. The fight doesn’t end on the 30, we must be proactive everyday.