A lack of information can be a dangerous thing. Most people are not aware that human trafficking exists in all 50 states. It is no respecter of persons. Whether in an affluent neighborhood or not, it is a far reaching network that infiltrates society in such a way as to affect a very wide socioeconomic demographic.
You may feel like you have raised your children to not go with strangers. You have taught them to be safe – so this does not affect you. Did you know that in 46% of cases the victim knows the trafficker? The mindset of “it can’t happen to me” is the best friend of the trafficker. Because with comfort comes complacency. Not in the sense of not caring, but in the sense of not knowing. It is not enough to just know a child’s friends, but the extended circle of friends. For example, oftentimes someone will be invited by a third party somewhere by a “friend of a friend”; or the boyfriend of a friend invites someone to their house to study or to celebrate a birthday. Something as innocuous as that can turn into a trafficking situation.
So what it is a parent to do? Get to know not only the friends of your child, but the acquaintances too, and the people that are not as close. A lot of times chatting about no particular topic can glean a lot of information. Monitor the social media in your household, as oftentimes traffickers will pose as teenagers for recruitment. Open communication with your child is the key to knowing all of this information, so in a given situation you will be the first person she/he goes to if anything should arise. Networking with other parents will also help fill in any information that you may not know.
Most importantly, this is not to suggest that we put a strangle hold on children, but we have to be able to live! Awareness and wise decisions are the best defense against human trafficking. Our network of friends and relatives educating one another is the best safety measure we can utilize.
It is helpful to remember in these instances that the good outnumber the bad. For example – there are approximately 300 million people in the United States. Of that 300 million it is safe to say, people in general are not in favor of human trafficking. Therefore, if we all dedicate to better communication and networking, we take a proactive approach against the slave trade just by that act alone. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
photo credit: ro_chelle