There are times when ignorance can indeed feel like bliss; other times it can be dangerous. In the case of human trafficking, being aware, alert and knowledgable is as empowering as it gets. What does human trafficking look like? Human trafficking is to exploit or trade a human being for sex or labor without their consent. They typically will move around from place to place to remain undetected. Young people, in particular, are typical targets of predators. It is an issue that we cannot perceive as one that is contained to the far corners of the globe. We must broach this topic. It is a national, state, county and neighborhood issue.
Our fear of the unknown cannot cripple us, it must empower, enrage and motivate us to put an end to modern day slavery. As parents, it is critical to know that social media is a prevalent tool for predators to target children. The predator’s goal to lure in a young person, drug them up and proceed to prostitute them for sex. This is happening in our country. Your state. Every child is at risk, but these risk factors greatly diminish when we are proactive.
Our ears need to acutely tuned in. Social media needs to be monitored with our kids. Strangers prey by “friending” on Instagram, Snap Chat, Tinder, etc. under false pretense. Who is really behind that screen on the other end? You would be shocked. Our kids are naive. They trust that the person on the receiving end is who they say they are. It couldn’t be a sixty year old pedophile from 150 miles away.
Human beings are sold like you would purchase an item at Costco. Children, teens and women (and some men) are sold for sex. Their bodies viewed as property. Their pimp will control where they eat, sleep. This includes who they are forced to have sex with (rape). They literally own them. They are their property. We are in a war that too few are aware of that will only leave our young people vulnerable targets. That can no longer continue.
So what now?
We must constantly remind our kids that there is no communication with anyone online that you do not know. That includes texting.Turn your child’s location settings off on their phone. Encourage them to not post their first and last name or date of birth. Post about an event they may attend after the fact. Do not place time and place of where they are going. This is dangerous.
Do not be overly trusting. If your child is randomly approached via phone or email by a talent / modeling agency research before any contact is made. Never allow your young person (this includes college age) to pursue this alone. There may be a flyer seeking high school / college workers for yard work, projects, etc. Be careful. In the South Jersey area this is a strategy used to traffic children. Always be your young person’s wingman. Contact numbers or names you do not know directly. The world we knew as children is no longer the one we live in. Ask questions and be proactive. You can do it.
Human trafficking….being proactive
signs of human trafficking
When it comes to a topic that can put you in anxiety overload, know that your eyes and ears are key. Discuss the power (good and bad) with social media with your young person. Empower them, but enlighten them. The more we know the safer those we love are.We need to know what someone who may be subject to this looks like.
Human trafficking is a global issue: what to look for
• Physical appearance: looking unkempt, malnourished
• Mental health/behavior: skittish, consistently on edge or nervous, overwhelming sadness or depression, noticeably defensive or paranoid when chatting about family history or law enforcement, not able to have consistent stories.
• Family history: Where they live is gray and uncertain. They lack a real timeline.
• Detachment from those around them (colleagues, students, peers, etc.) No independence. No personal space.
• They are very point a to b attending work or school and nothing else.
• Lacking personal possessions, nothing is really their own.
• Actions and opinion overseen by someone else – they have no voice.
• They are monitored or lack control of their finances, bank account.
Signs that indicate someone may be being held against their will:
• Not able to go anywhere without permission.
• There is excessive debt they can’t break free from.
• They work long hours, but pay is minuscule.
• Hours for work are exceptionally long and pay is either nonexistent or minimal.
• Restrictions in the work place that are unusual.
• Work place or home is out of the norm with security measures (cameras) and a limit of views (windows boarded or taped up).
Human trafficking and how to keep your kids safe
Keep your eyes open. Know that your efforts, words and insight can not only protect your loved ones, but save an innocent heart from a pain no one deserves.
If you have suspicions or you have a nagging gut feeling that something is off, you have every right to make a phone call to your local authorities. Call, reach out and express your concerns. If you’re wrong, there is no consequence. If you’re right, you just freed a human being from a living hell. Your voice means something. I believe if we open our eyes and educate others the tide can and will turn. We can do this.
If you have suspicions that someone is a victim of human trafficking please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888.373.7888
We can empower and guard our kids, but we must not be silent for those who fall prey. Chat with your kids. Hug them. Pray for their protection. I wish you a week of family, empowerment and compassion. Peace, Love & Goodness!