Protecting Kids in Today’s World
There are so many aspects of raising kids that are terrifying. When they are born, we worry if they are sleeping or eating enough, we worry if we are reading to them enough or giving them enough “tummy time”. As they grow, we worry about their development and if we are preparing them to survive in the real world.
Physical safety is one area that is a constant worry for most parents and caregivers and has been for all of time. Will my child experience bullying or even worse a school shooting are the worries of almost every parent. On top of these endless concerns, we now must worry about our children’s online life and if they are being safe on the internet or if they may fall victim to something as horrific as sex trafficking.
Let us help give you a few tips for protecting your children at every stage so you can feel more confident and focus on what is important… enjoying your kids!
– Once your child is able to, they should know their parents’ names, their address and phone number by heart. Work with your child to memorize these things. This may seem trivial but if they ever need help knowing this information may be key to reuniting the two of you as fast as possible.
– Teach your child to be always aware of their surroundings. This will give them the upper hand in a dangerous situation. You can turn this into a game for younger children, asking your child details about things as you head into the grocery store or as you go for an afternoon walk.
– Traffickers will often use false promises of love to lure their victims. Setting a high standard of what love is, and an example of how you should give and receive love will help shape your child’s self-image and expectations of love. Teach them how to distinguish between a false love and the real thing. Loving your child well will boost their self-confidence which makes them less vulnerable to predators.
– Teaching them to respond to everyone with good eye contact and confidence is a great tool for helping protect them.
– Teach your child to use the “buddy system” even as they get older. Two individuals together are less vulnerable than one alone. As they walk home from school or work make sure they have a friend to walk with. This is a good tool for someone that is entering college as well. Walking alone on campus, especially at night puts them more at risk than walking with someone.
– Understand that a trafficker is not always the scary guy hiding in the shadows, sometimes they are friends, family, or your child’s peer. Knowing what this recruitment and grooming process can look like will help you identify and step in if your child is being targeted by someone wanting to exploit them. Read this to learn more about this cycle.
– Empowering your child to trust their gut is a key element of their safety. So often we teach children, especially girls, to be polite at all times. This means they may be polite to someone despite their body telling them to run and scream.
– Give them the freedom to say no when they feel uncomfortable. This can start as easy as not requiring them to give someone a hug goodbye. If that action makes them uncomfortable give them the authority to say, “No, thank you” and opt for a high-five or something they feel comfortable with.
– Educate your child about sex trafficking, teach them about how predators use the internet to target young people. These conversations can be awkward for both parent and child; however, they are necessary. Here is a great resource to help get you started no matter your child’s age.
– Know your child’s friends. Invest your time and energy into their lives and pay attention to who they are hanging out with. Simultaneously teach your young person the difference between what a real friend will ask of them and what someone who is acting like a friend but does not have their best interest in mind may ask of them. This applies to friends in real life and online friends as well. A young person rarely knows 5,000 people in real life, why do they have 5,000 Instagram followers? Establish the boundaries around online friends and hold them to it.
– Sometimes it is easier for a young person to talk to a trusted adult in their life that is not their parents. Naturally children do not want to disappoint parents and sometimes feel more comfortable to share details of a situation with someone other than a parents. Make sure your child has trusted adults in their life. Whether it is a grandparent, aunt, uncle or your best friend, give them the freedom to speak to those adults.
– Sex trafficking has moved online at an unprecedented scale. Traffickers use social media, dating apps, games, and other online platforms to connect with young people. Take the time to learn what apps your child is using and how to best protect them within those platforms and on their specific devices. Monitor their accounts and make sure boundaries are set in regard to their use of the internet.
This is a great start point for online safety.
The world may be a more frightening place as each year passes, however, you do not have to feel unprepared to protect your child. You are their biggest advocate and protector of all things. Lean into that and take action.
Protecting children is important to us, if you share in that sentiment, please take a few minutes to learn more about Team 1591 and how you can help protect America’s children from sex trafficking.