Maybe it’s because we’re connected to the people who started Selah Freedom (who, by the way, are guests on the radio show today — scroll down for info on how to tune in) or maybe it’s because human trafficking has been such a hot topic in our neck of the woods, but whatever the reason, it’s been on the forefront of our minds, and we are constantly talking to our kids about it. So much so that we have a little saying as the kids get out of the car or are heading out the door: “DGT!” which they know means, “Don’t Get Trafficked!”
I guess it’s a little on the morbid side, but we talk about it so often that we’ve had to lighten things up a bit.
In all seriousness, it’s super important for us to make our kids aware of this threat. Approximately 200,000 American kids are in danger of being trafficked every year — mostly to be sold into the commercial sex industry — and it’s not just our girls who are at risk; boys make up 50% of the sex trafficking industry.
Traffickers intentionally target kids who lack assertiveness, confidence and self esteem, so let’s teach our kids what confidence looks like — shoulders back, head up and attentive. Our kids need to become comfortable looking people in the eye and smiling to communicate self-esteem and assertiveness.
We also have to teach our kids how to recognize a red flag — that inner sense that something’s not right — and how to heed those internal warnings.
Let’s also use the obnoxious parade of sexual images in the media as a springboard for regular conversation about healthy relationships and a sober understanding of sexuality.
What does a trafficker look like? Well, I can tell you what they don’t look like — they’re not the creepy guy off in the corner staring at girls in the food court. Traffickers are savvy. They want their targets to trust them. Sometimes traffickers hire middle men to help attract victims, and these middle men can look like a peer — another teen or a young adult. They might be well dressed and super friendly. Traffickers might even be women or a young couple. Our kids have to be extremely careful.
Traffickers might offer to buy their targets expensive gifts. They usually ask for a teen or pre-teen’s phone number, and they often use flattery to build rapport. They may claim to know famous people and may offer to help the teen or pre-teen get into modeling or acting or offer to help them make money. Traffickers may also offer to help kids run away.
When my kids were little and we did the whole stranger-danger thing, I told them that if any adult who they do not know ever asks them for help, they should come get me right away. No sensible adult will ask a small child for help unless they have bad intentions.
Now that my kids are older, I tell them that they need to be very suspicious of anyone offering to help them make money or meet someone famous. Those people have ulterior motives for sure, and of course, anyone who offers to help a kid runaway is nothing short of a criminal. These are big danger signs, and our kids can be trained to spot them.
For more great tips to keep our kids safe, join us this morning at 10:00AM ET. Sarasota listeners can tune into 1220AM or 106.9FM or 98.9FM. Everyone else can go to WSRQ Radio’s website to listen streaming or get instructions on how to download a mobile app and listen on the go. If you missed the broadcast, check back next week. It will be in the podcast section.