If you are a parent, you are responsible for this difficult discussion

Parents can prevent human trafficking — only if you are willing to enter into a discussion with your children.

While far from an expert on the subject of human trafficking, a few things have become more clear as I research further into the topic.

  • Traffickers try recruiting from “all” neighborhoods — not just impoverished areas. If you think it couldn’t happen in your area, read Theresa’s story.
  • Traffickers are so practiced at protecting their “stable” that even when there is an opportunity to escape, most victims do not leave; often because of previous threats against themselves and their families.
  • When traffickers are discovered, it’s usually only the victims who get arrested, while the traffickers manage to evade the court system entirely.
  • In the worst of cases, in many countries, court judges and law enforcement personnel are on the payroll of the traffickers and will return runaways to their captors.

With all this going against us, it has become clear to me that the preferable way to eradicate trafficking is to prevent it in the first place. And how do we do that? I believe it all revolves around education — both in the schools and at home.

The world can be a scary place and while many people avoid talking about “unpleasant” topics, it’s only with this knowledge that youngsters can begin to protect themselves.

Children need to know:

  • Not all people that act nice are actually their friends
  • Traffickers don’t necessarily look like “bad people” — they could look just like your girlfriend, your grandmother or your waitress.
  • Any one who says “don’t tell your parents” is usually someone to avoid.
  • Anyone who promises nice clothes, money, drugs, sex or travel is someone who expects something in return. It’s time to run — fast!

When your child meets one of these people, they must be comfortable talking about the experience with someone you trust. If that isn’t you, make sure they have someone they would feel comfortable with — maybe an older sibling, cousin or an aunt.

It’s best to give the child a choice of a number of people they can confide in. Make sure they feel safe in revealing all the details to their confidant. Make sure they understand that they are not to blame for this encounter.

The important thing here is that you want a discussion to ensue as soon as possible, before the trafficker can make any progress with the child.

Need more help?

I recently came across an organization called Love146 that is approaching this education in a two-pronged approach. They have a guide for parents that can be found online. They realize that having an open, frank discussion can certainly be difficult, so this guide will be invaluable. Download it now and vow to set a time to have this discussion.

Secondly, and even more effective is their five-unit course designed for schools. It’s called Not A #Number and is intended for students aged 12–18. Through multimedia and role playing, the students get opportunities to recognize and actually practice ways to avoid being trafficked.

The course objectives are described as follows:

  • Raise their awareness of what constitutes human trafficking and exploitation.
  • Learn how to recognize recruitment tactics and understand vulnerabilities.
  • Challenge harmful stereotypes and societal attitudes.
  • Identify healthy support systems.
  • Develop skills to safely navigate potential and existing exploitative situations.
  • Learn how to access community resources when situations occur that increase their vulnerability (or if exploitation is already underway).

I love this one student’s quote after taking the course, “I managed to get away. I made an excuse and got out of there as fast as I could. Because of what we’ve talked about at Not a #Number, I paid closer attention and knew to trust my gut…”

Interested?

You can preview the curriculum here. Or, to learn how to bring the course to your school or community here.

The Not a #Number curriculum was piloted in Connecticut, Florida, and Texas through Love146, Aspire Health Partners, and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families — reaching over 2,500 youth in schools, child welfare and juvenile justice agencies, residential programs, and other community settings.

For my money, this may be the best way to beat traffickers at their own game. An educated public is always less likely to fall prey to their tricks.

Stock photo courtesy of SplitShire | Pixabay


Originally published at Stop Human Trafficking Website.