Parenting often comes with many uncomfortable and somewhat awkward conversations that you must have with your kids. We know it can be weird talking to your teenage girl or boy about sex trafficking, but you need to have these conversations if you’re looking to protect your kids from falling prey to bad people.
Talking to our children about sensitive matters like these is the key to getting them to open up when they start experiencing advances from predators. You may never know what this feels like until it hits you. And the reality does hit hard; one question that parents who have been in similar situations would always ask is, “what can I do to help my child?”
But before it gets that bad, there are warning signs and pointers that we need to look out for; there are many things that parents can do to shield their children from ever falling into the traps of traffickers. So, there’s work to be done. Here are some things that you can do to protect your child from falling victim to sex trafficking predators.
Talk to Your Child About Grooming and Sextortion
Sex trafficking starts with a conversion; it could be online, at the mall, on the street, in the classroom with a classmate, at the bus stop, and just about any other place where traffickers lurk. The ugly truth is that anyone is at risk. While they usually target the most vulnerable population, traffickers have a very wide net.
This makes it all the more important for you to have that talk with your child now. Child sex traffickers have always used one very effective tactic called grooming. Grooming is how they reach out to minors, become friends or ‘caretakers’, sometimes assuming the role of father or acting as a caring boyfriend. The goal is usually one thing and one thing only - to gain the trust of the child. Once this happens, they’ll gradually or suddenly switch on the girls, forcing and coercing them to sell sex for money. Educate your child about this, including sextortion, a threat tactic used by traffickers to perpetuate fear in the child and keep them from telling anybody.
Talk to Your Child About Sexual Abuse
Yes, it may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is key to protecting your child from predators. Let your child understand that no one has a right to their body and that gifts or promises of beautiful things should never be an access point to their body. Create an atmosphere that makes it easy for them to approach you about any issue that they might be having in school, in the neighborhood, with their friends, etc. This is how you earn their trust and learn about any personal struggles that they might be having.
Educate Your Child About the Dangers of Social Media
The best time to talk to your child about the dangers of being on social media is the moment they have a smartphone in their hand or have access to a computer. Online sex trafficking is real. The internet, as well as the growth of technology, contribute in no small way to the growth of child sex trafficking. In fact, technology makes it even easier for traffickers to reach children and teenagers. You might also want to check their online activities and discourage communications with strangers online.
Set a High Standard of Love at Home
The easiest way for traffickers to lure children away is by giving them what they never had in their homes. This is why it is important to teach your child that they should never abandon home because someone has promised to take them around the world or buy them fancy items, the latest online games, or trending jewelry.
The best way to achieve this is by setting a high standard of love at home. Help your kids understand that an act of kindness is not a ticket to their nacked pictures or their bodies. Helping them to distinguish between real love and fancy promises shrouded in ulterior motives will help them spot trafficking situations when they encounter one.
Teach Your Child What Sex Trafficking Means
Many victims of domestic minor sex trafficking are not even aware of what is going on in their lives. They are sometimes delusional about their conditions, thinking they’re in love. Some are just helpless. By and large, teaching them about sex trafficking beforehand is a great way to protect them from traffickers. You can even go ahead to educate them on authorities around the neighborhood that they can quickly alert to get help in desperate situations. Keep in mind that traffickers use different means to recruit children. They can use other kids, an older male or female, a friend at the bus stop, a friend in school, and so on.
Pay Attention to your Child
There is never a time when paying attention to your child’s social behavior is more important. Be quick to notice signs that are out of the norm, such as being angry with everyone, withdrawing from the family, spending too much time on the phone or computer, frequent outings with friends, keeping late nights, using expensive jewelry and clothes that you didn’t buy, etc. Ask questions, but be careful with your approach not to spook them away. Try not to be judgy if you discover that they’ve been abused or currently suffering abuse.
Encourage Your Children to Pray for Those Suffering
This is another effective way to help your child understand the gravity of the situation, while also putting faith in God to help other kids who are being trafficked all over the world. While this can be an overwhelming subject for any child, ensure to handle the matter with care, taking into consideration the unique personality traits that define your child.
Join Us at The Mission Haven
The Mission Haven focuses on providing a comprehensive and transformational Haven of Healing to victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. We believe that every single DMST survivor still has a chance at life at its best, and we need every support we can get to provide the pillar of support that they need continually.
Our goal at The Mission Haven is to provide them with all the support they need to start over. With your generous donations and support, we can continue to provide a truly safe haven of hope and healing equipped with essential resources to lift victims and survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking. To give, volunteer, or become a partner, feel free to contact us today.