Human Trafficking — Protect your Children

“Become an expert on what breaks your heart.”

— Courage Worldwide Founder, Jenny Williamson.

This article focuses on some techniques you can use to protect your family and gives resources and tips for you to be a hero to a victim of human trafficking.

This morning, I woke up in my suburban home, in a quiet neighborhood of a normal city, and placed the trashcan at the curb for the weekly pickup. I glanced down at the newspaper, which had been sitting on the driveway for a few days and saw this:

You can read the full article here:

Human trafficking makes us angry, it makes us sad, it makes us frightened. The lives it destroys and ensuing lifetime of heartbreak is indescribable. The State Department released its 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report. You can see the full report at: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2015/index.htm

There is no disagreement that this is a global issue with foreign policy concerns. However, that is not what is being discussed here.

For a global view on human trafficking and the general strategy to fight human trafficking, you can read this article:

Human trafficking is a problem that exists in our backyards. At its core, it is a threat to us and our loved ones. No global policy or community action can effectively protect our children. We need tactics for our families that will have an impact at the time and place they are needed.

Remember, you do not have to be paranoid to be prepared.

The first tactic begins at home. We need to communicate with our kids. My son has not yet started kindergarten, so the conversations I have with him, may differ from the one you have with your 16 year old daughter, but the topics will be similar:

Communication Tip #1: Talk to your kids so that they trust you and are willing to talk with you about anything. If they are being groomed by some predator, you want to know it!

Communication Tip #2: Talk to your kids about what to do if they are threatened. Yell, run, fight. They need to be told that it is ok to behave in this way when they are under attack. One of my son’s first words was “no.” It’s easy to say. I actually had him practice screaming the word “NO!” as loud as he could and putting his hands up to protect him. (Note: He used this against a pre-school bully on the playground once. Apparently, it works.) Yelling is applicable for all ages.

Communication Tip #3: Talk to your kids about what is happening in the world. This goes for any threatening topic and you will have to adjust the type of words you use to be age-appropriate, but hiding your kids from the dangers of this world will not protect them when they are faced with a situation that could alter their lives in a matter of seconds.

Communication Tip #4: If appropriate, use the internet to communicate with your kids. Know what they are looking at, what social media outlets they use and who they are talking to. It is harder these days, but communicating with your kids to know who their “friends” are, both in real life and virtually, is important.

Communication Tip #5: Know when your child meets someone new and where they met them. When they come home from school, from the mall, from sports practice, ask them how their day was and if they met anyone new.

The next tactic is for the street. For that time they are threatened and you are not there.

Street Tip #1: Teach your kids their name, address, and phone number. They will need to know how to reach you.

Street Tip #2: Teach your kids to run. And teach them how to run in order to get away from a predator. If your neighborhood has a public place to run to, teach them to run there (library, police station, fire station, etc.). Tell them not to stop running until they get somewhere safe and tell them it is ok to run.

Street Tip #3: Kids can learn how to fight off a predator. It’s ok for them to be rude when they are threatened. It’s ok for them to hit someone when they are threatened. Teach them how to be a difficult target.

The final tactics are for you. For things you can do to protect your kids or save someone else.

Parent Tip #1: Use the tools you have. If your kids have a phone, turn the GPS on so you know where they are and where they have been. If they have email and social media accounts, check them. Know who they know.

Parent Tip #2: Be aware of what is going on in your community. Don’t think “it won’t happen to me.” It has happened to many families and kudos to those who have turned tragedy into valiant, triumphant attempts to help others. Pay attention to who lives around you. For example, in California you can check the location of sex offenders on the Megan’s Law website: http://meganslaw.ca.gov/search.asp. Again, being prepared does not mean you are paranoid.

Parent Tip #3: Pay attention to your child. You will know if they are apprehensive about something or if something is bothering them. Trust your gut instincts and ask questions. It may just be a stomach bug, or it may be something more.

Parent Tip #4: Be involved in their daily lives. You can trust your child and give them freedom while still being engaged and involved. It is ok, you are not being a “helicopter parent.”

Parent Tip #5: Know what to look for if you come across a victim. You may come across someone who is being trafficked. Signs include not being free to come and go, “works” without breaks and for low or no pay, is “working off” a debt, is in the sex industry with a pimp or some other manager, could exhibit poor mental health, and could exhibit poor physical health. More information on victim restoration is available in this article:

Parent Tip #6: Know the resources you can turn to:

· National Human Trafficking Resource Center: http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/

· Human Trafficking Task Forces: http://www.justice.gov/usao/human-trafficking-task-forces

· Search for the organizations in your area that are helping to eliminate human trafficking and rescuing victims. These groups are on the frontline of the battle, such as this one: https://courageworldwide.org/

Human trafficking makes us mad. It makes us sad. It makes us feel helpless. However, we are not helpless. Knowledge and tactics makes us strong. The foreign policies and government laws will not protect our children at the time and place they need the protection. That is up to us.

For information on protecting your family if they are threatened during an active shooter event, please see this article: https://medium.com/homeland-security/ultimate-survival-at-the-movies-fa9b86796656.