17th Sunday in OT (C)
July 26, 2019
One Man’s Journey – a book about life
July 26, 2019

Keep your child safe from being trafficked

July 30 is the UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons, to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”

The US Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as a “modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.” Worldwide, sex trafficking industry pulls in an estimated US$99 billion each year.

In Trinidad and Tobago, we have had our own exposure to it, with groups of Venezuelan women having to be rescued from sites of sexual exploitation. The most vulnerable groups are women and children.

Here are some tips for keeping your children safe:

  1. Develop a relationship with your child from early which allows for communication and don’t be afraid to talk to them on sexual matters, which include social media interaction.
  2. Social Media is one way traffickers recruit. What do they look for both online and off? According to Stephany Powell in My Choice My Body My Rules, traffickers look for: evidence of an unstable/unhappy home life; previous victims of sexual abuse; people seeking love and acceptance; and people who are unaware of domestic trafficking tactics. Let your children know that it is easy for anyone to disguise their identities online. That cute boy or girl they think they may be speaking to could actually be an older predator.
  3. Teach your children to be aware of their surroundings: be wary of too-friendly strangers or people that may attempt to lure them close to their vehicle. Some sites suggest letting your children know that it is fine to be rude to strangers who approach them like this. They need to be told this specifically as most parents teach otherwise.
  4. Monitor and question any adult that seems to take a sudden interest in your child, regardless of who they are.
  5. Teach your child that any person who encourages them to keep secrets from their parents are not acting in their best interest. Traffickers can forge inappropriate relationships with your children, and isolate them by encouraging them to keep quiet about it.
  6. Keep close watch on your child and look for signs of possible grooming. Powell highlights these: unexplained expensive gifts; sudden changes in dress and/or attitudes to sex; secrecy when a person calls; heavily influenced by a new friend that he/she doesn’t want anyone to meet and missing nights at home, or truancy at school.
  7. Always know where your child is and with whom. Let them know that you will be calling to check in and make sure that they are okay, but not in a manner that makes it seem you are trying to control them. Previous conversations should make it clear to them anyway, that you are merely ensuring their safety.
  8. Choose with them a code word or everyday phrase that can easily be worked into conversation but which would indicate to you whether they are in trouble, like “blue umbrella” or “red coffee mug”.