Many people believe that sex trafficking only happens to the runaway, the poor, the disenfranchised youth. While that population is more at risk, it can happen to anyone.
In chapter one of In Our Backyard, the true story of “Sarah,” a young Christian girl who was a straight-A student from a nice upper middle class home illustrates how it can happen to the most unsuspecting. Being a great parent, having a great marriage, even creating a loving home for your child is no guarantee of their safety, but you can do many things to help keep your children safe from sex trafficking. Following are some tips.
- Educate your children about human trafficking. That it is here, what it looks like and to talk to you or another responsible adult if they think they see it. If they are able, have them read In Our Backyard. It will help them recognize the indicators.
- Communicate with your children, and let them talk to you without judgment. They need to know they are safer with you than anywhere else. One rule we had with our children was that if they did something wrong and they told us before we found out, they might have some consequences but their punishment would be less than if we found out another way.
- Technology is a big part of how sex trafficking happens with youth. Know your children’s passwords, and know what is on their phone. A good rule is “as long as you live under our roof, we have access to passwords, e-mails, texts, etc.” Your child’s privacy is important but so is their safety. If you talk to parents whose children have been sex trafficked, without exception, they will all tell you they wish they had monitored their computers, cell phone and activities on social media.
- Technological devices now exist which include:
a. Software like Covenant Eyes on your computers. They will track every website your kids visit and report to you so you can have productive conversations with them.
b. GPS tracking devices which can be placed in phones, clothes, and in backpacks which help parents and authorities track your child and find them when they first go missing.
c. DNA scent kits which can be used to help authorities and dogs track a scent trail.
- Know your children’s friends. Have them over to your home. Feed them a pan of brownies, a batch of cookies and sit down and talk with them. Know where they hang out and what they are like.
- Get youth involved in positive things, community groups, sports, music, community service, and church youth groups. Surround them with positive peer pressure.
Nita Belles is the author In Our Backyard. She works with victims, from rescue to restoration, partnering with top law enforcement, government officials, social services, and faith communities to combat human trafficking.