Because of the invasive capabilities of the internet and social media, Human Traffickers can have direct access to our youth right within our own homes. Many times presenting themselves as another “teen peer”, predators can establish relationships with our children where they glean too much information from them that is then used to ensnare them.
Some Ways to Prevent Your Child from Being Recruited Into Sex Trafficking
- Recruiters frequent malls, movie theaters, bowling alleys, parks, typical teen hang out areas, and around school grounds. Make sure your children are supervised and not alone when in these areas.
- Recruiters are always looking for girls who are alone or isolated; if your child is with a group, she is much less likely to be targeted.
- Make sure your child is not alone when they are going to or from school or other extracurricular activities.
- Check your child’s emails, social media, and internet activities. Many recruiters will build a relationship with children through the internet over time in order to gain their trust.
- Screen any boyfriend by checking his age and status in the community. Check with his parents to verify his age, any gang affiliation, or any criminal history. Recruiters are notorious for lying about their age and who they are in order to gain a girl’s–and even her parent’s–trust.
- Know where your child is all times. It may be annoying to your child, but it also could mean saving their life.
- Adding a GPS tracker to your child’s phone is a great form of protection, as it allows you to find out exactly where your child is at any time.
- Have a code word or phrase. For example, saying “I’m fine” means “Not okay! I need help!”. This way, if they are in the hands of an abductor they can text you this code without raising the suspicion of the abductor or recruiter.
- Use the percentage sign or some unique symbol that will allow your child to text you one quick symbol to tell you they are in trouble.
- Have specific and periodic check in times with your children. Setting a recurring alarm on your child’s phone will help them remember to check in. If your child misses a check in time, you can set a response in motion assuming that they are in trouble.
- Ethical Modeling agencies do not typically solicit girls who are alone. Thoroughly screen any solicitation for your child to model or to go somewhere with someone who has not been vetted.
- Talk to your child about what to do if they get into trouble with someone who is threatening them. The basic rule is to never go to the second location once you realize you are in danger. No matter what the threat, advise them to go to a figure of authority immediately.
- It is a difficult discussion to have, especially with junior high age children, but 8 to 14 year-olds are the primary targets of recruiters. Children really need to be coached on how to respond to that type of threat if it happens to them.
- If your child is going to a party, make sure that you know it is held at a safe place with the supervision of people you trust. Recruiters for sex trafficking will often frequent parties that teenagers attend and wait until a child is alone, single them out, and actually take them during the party. Many times the recruiter will take them to a back room where any kind of disturbance would not be heard due to the noise of the party.
Advise your child to never leave any drink, even water, unattended at any party or event. Recruiters will drop what they call a “roofie” into the drink which causes the victim to become submissive to anyone without bringing attention to the situation.