5 Conversations to Protect Your Family from Trafficking
The new school year is approaching and with all the recent media surrounding sex trafficking here in the United States we realize this is a crime most people feel one of two ways about. The first group of people are in the “it will not happen to me or my family” camp while the second realize it is a threat but are unsure of how to protect themselves and their children.
For those that believe they are immune we caution you against this belief, we have seen survivors of trafficking come from all walks of life. Traffickers target vulnerabilities and those do not always mean the impoverished or teens experiencing homelessness, it easily could mean your daughter, whose current self-esteem is a little low or your niece who just wants to feel loved. This is a rapidly increasing crime and one that everyone needs to start being more proactive about preventing.
Here are 5 conversations to start having with your children to protect your family from sex trafficking:
1. Talk About Sex Trafficking– make sure you understand what this crime looks like, how these predators operate and utilize social media and start to have these conversations with your children. The average age of entry into the sex trade is 15 years-old, but 1 in 6 are 12 or younger [source] so start now, do not wait until they are older. Start here.
2. Talk About Safe Dating – educate your child on how they should be treated on a date, what appropriate dating behavior looks like and what to do if they feel uncomfortable. Romeo pimps are common, and they will do their best to make your child fall in love with them. Check out this great resource around healthy teen relationships.
3. Talk About Online Safety – we know traffickers utilize social media to find their victims, make sure you and your children have ground rules set that allow you to monitor their online activity. Traffickers may send hundreds of messages out a day to see who bites, explain this tactic to your child so they know not to respond to unknown messages or comments, and they feel safe to bring these messages to you.
4. Talk About Their Friends – teach your child that they are some of the best lines of defense for their friends. If they hear something or see something that makes them feel uncomfortable regarding one of their friends make sure they know they can come to you with that information or ensure they know the importance of telling an authority even if their friend may become upset.
5. Talk About Resources – know the resources the school or community you live in has to offer, make sure you child knows about these. Traffickers will often tell their victims they will be homeless, or they will never find a job again if they try and leave. This is not true, there are countless resources available, make sure this is a truth your child knows just in case the worst happens. If you need help finding the resources in your area contact us.
Having proactive conversations is a key way to prevent trafficking from happening to your family. It will be worth the few minutes of uncomfortable or awkward conversation if it means arming your child with lifesaving information and it will create an open line of communication in case anything does happen. A 14-year-old will get this information from another 14-year-old or the internet if you are not having these types of conversations. Make sure you are their trusted resource and start the conversation today!