Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Sex Trafficking
Prepared by Randee Doe
1. It could happen to your children. As many as 300,000 children are sex-trafficked annually in the United States, with the average age being 12–14 years old! Kids from every race, economic situation, background, and home life are vulnerable to falling prey to a trafficker or pimp.
2. Know who your children’s friends are! Stranger danger doesn’t look the same as it did when you were a kid. Your child may be making friends with someone who is involved in a sex-trafficking ring or with someone who appears to be a cute and charming boyfriend. Many pimps use the “boyfriend” or “lover-boy” tactic to woo and win a girls love, loyalty, and trust.
3. Remind your kids to keep their social media pages private and to only accept friend requests from people you or they know. Predators will use social media to find girls and boys and will befriend them, gaining trust and loyalty. Approve all photos and videos that are posted online. Furthermore, parents should only accept friend requests from people they know! When you post pictures of your kids online, potential predators can use those pictures against your children to blackmail them, trick them, and kidnap them.
4. Know where your kids hang out! Traffickers recruit at places where kids and youth hang out: malls, arcades, parking lots, fast food restaurants, coffee shops, schools, and group homes. If your child is going somewhere to hang out, make sure to ask them lots of questions, check in frequently with them, and don’t leave them without parental guidance for any significant length of time. A trafficker or spotter could be a charming and good-looking potential “boyfriend” who knows where youth like to hang out, and they know how to prey on youth’s desires, wishes, and insecurities to win their trust.
5. Know the Facts: Educate yourself and your kids about sex trafficking! Ignorance is not bliss. Keeping your kids uninformed will not protect them. A little bit of knowledge could save their life—or the lives of their cousins, friends, or classmates.
Randee Doe is a pastoral staff member at Community of Hope Church in Maricopa, Arizona, and a curriculum writer for human trafficking prevention efforts. She is a member of the CHOG TraffickLight leadership team. For more information about CHOG TraffickLight, visit www.CHOGTraffickLight.org.