"Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and naïvety"
Sex trafficking is alive and well in the world. I first became intimately aware of it while serving with an organization that rescued women caught in human trafficking from the bars in Bangkok, Thailand. On my return to the US, I learned that sex trafficking is a big business stateside as well. I was even more shocked to find out that many of those trafficked are children. The average age of entry into coerced prostitution is 12-17 years.
With back-to-school on the horizon it is important for parents to be equipped with tools to create an environment for their children that minimizes the possibility of them being trafficked through deception. Here are 6 ways to do just that:
1. Set a high standard of “love” within your home. The way you define and express love shapes your children’s self-image, confidence and opinions of future relationships. Treat them the way you want their future spouses to treat them. Help them to distinguish between real love and empty promises or cheap gifts.
2. Talk to your children about sexual abuse. According to the US Department of Justice, every two minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted, of which 29% are ages 12-17. Let your children know that if anyone has or ever does hurt them, they can talk to you. This is the most important thing you can say. Don’t assume they have not been hurt by sexual violence before. Leave the door open for your child to talk about past circumstances that they haven’t shared with you.
3. Talk to your children about sex trafficking. Discuss ways children and teens are targeted for sex trafficking. Let them know that traffickers specifically try to woo young girls and boys with promises of a better life – whether it’s promises of love and attention or promises of nice things and trips – these pimps look for ways of exploiting dreams. Traffickers can be male or female, even classmates. Traffickers may even use kids to recruit other kids.
4. Talk to your children about the dangers of social media. It’s important to provide practical safety tips like: don’t share personal information on the Internet; don’t accept Facebook requests from unknown people; NEVER share naked photos of yourself with anyone; and tell a parent or a trusted adult if you feel threatened or uncomfortable online. Also, children need help in defining friendships. Social media has distorted our childrens’ understanding of what friendship means. Teach them that a friend is not someone you met yesterday and that a “friend” on Facebook is not the same thing as a friendship.
5. Pay attention to your children. Monitor your children’s social media accounts, look for ways to meet their friends, their friends’ parents and those they hang out with. Be alert to boyfriends who are much older, or friendships that tend to isolate your child from other friends or family. Notice if your child has new clothing items, makeup products, cell phone or other items and inquire about how they aquired them.
6. Invite your kids to pray for those enslaved. Sexual assault and trafficking can be a fearful or overwhelming subject for children. Invite them to take action by praying for those who are enslaved. This allows for children to acknowledge the suffering of young people who have been trafficked while placing hope in a God who desires freedom for the oppressed.
Have a wonderful and safe back-to-school season!
Parts of this blog are excerpts from the article 6 Ways Parents Can Protect Their Children From Sex Trafficking
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