7 Practical Tips for Talking with Your Child About Human Sex Trafficking
Human sex-trafficking is not an easy subject to discuss – with anyone – much less young children. The subject can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. These 7 age appropriate strategies can help start the conversation.
#1 You Are the Parent, Use Your Authority and Help Develop A Plan
It is YOUR responsibility to lead the discussion about sexuality and boundaries with your child. Our culture has introduced human sexuality to children at alarmingly young ages. If you want to protect and properly educate your child in this area, being proactive is key. From a young age, children need to understand that their bodies are to be protected and not shared with others. Equipping them with an action plan for when they find themselves in dangerous situations or are exposed to pornography helps them proactively protect themselves.
#2 Paint Verbal Boundaries
Painting verbal descriptions for your children helps them to become aware of potentially dangerous situations. Using age appropriate phrases such as ( touching in the swimsuit area, or taking off one’s clothes), walk through situations that you know are potentially dangerous. For the kids who process better when they understand the ‘why’ of a request, this is a very important conversation. When my kids ask me, “Why would someone ever even do that?” I simply tell them that this world is a strange and sometimes dangerous place and we must always alert an adult if anyone, (including our friends) try anything inappropriate like this.
#3 Keep Watch of your Closest Surroundings
A huge misconception about sexual abuse/assault/exploitation is that it will be perpetrated by a scary stranger. The reality is that the majority of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior occurs in the home with a relative or close friend, or someone we trust for our child’s care.
#4 Keep A Watch Out for Child-On-Child Sexual Abuse
According to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Child-On-Child Sexual Abuse is at an all time high, and reports are escalating daily. The reason? According to the NCOSE, children are mimicking what they have seen somewhere else. Imagine toddlers playing in a preschool kitchen; they are acting out what they have seen in real life. It’s alarming to realize that children are seeing either highly sexualized television content and/or graphic online pornography and then re-inacting what they have seen through the context of play – which equates to child-on-child sexual abuse.
#5 Educate Your Child About Pornography & Help Them Form A Plan To Reject and Report Exposure
Children are an average 2-clicks away from accidentally stumbling upon online pornography. New research has reported that children under the age of 10 now account for 22% of online porn consumption under 18 years old. Furthermore, 10% of children in the 7th grade stated that they are now watching enough porn to be concerned that they may have an addiction issue and not be able to stop. Pornography fuels the demand for more illicit and bizarre sexual acts, which in turn increases the demand for young children. The National Center for Sexual Exploitation has labled pornography use as a National Health Crisis.
I recommend every parent and caregiver purchase Good Pictures Bad Pictures by Kristen A. Jenson. This book provides a simple plan teaching children to “turn-away and tell” when they have been exposed to pornography. The publisher’s website www.protectyoungminds.org seeks to help parents “porn-proof” their kids before they come across highly addictive and easily accessible internet pornography. This site is useful for young adults to children as young as 3 years old.
#6 Help Your Child Recognize Grooming Techniques
Help your child understand that unsafe people are not necessarily mean, ugly or scary – and they are not always men. Alleged Epstein victim, Jennifer Araoz, says that Epstein’s recruiters were polished females loitering outside of her New York ballad/dance studio befriending young teen dance students. The recruiters would ask prospective girls to coffee and take a personal interest in their lives. Jennifer says that her father had passed away a few years before and that she was hungry for attention and validation that the Epstein recruiters provided.
#7 Fill Your Child’s Emotional Love Tank
Our children are starving for quality time and attention from their parents. When they are left emotionally hungry, they will seek to be filled online or in relationships outside the home. When children are allowed access to mobile devices, email accounts and social chats, it is very difficult for parent’s to know all of their child’s online activities. Leaving them hungry for love with a mobile device is a recipe for disaster.
We meet families every day whose children have been victims of online predators. Many of which have been picked up in front of their own homes as a result of online interaction. Unfortunately, these under-developed brains do not have the ability to comprehend the potential danger that awaits them by engaging in these (unknown) online friendships.
Parents are the first line of defense in protecting children and their sexuality. I encourage all parents and caregivers to take time to educate themselves about the issue of human sex trafficking, exploitation and abuse. The Texas Governor is asking all citizens to watch the new “Be The One Video”, www.betheone.org a professionally produced documentary highlighting details of Texas sex trafficking cases. It is tastefully produced and very informative. Remember, awareness saves lives.
Rachael Hall is a mother of four children and currently serves as the Director of Marketing & Digital Media for Hope Rising, an Anti-Human Sex Trafficking organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and restoration of children and youth rescued from human sex trafficking, exploitation and/or abuse.
Hope Rising provides long-term, trauma-informed therapy, foster care, onsite education, medical attention, and are well-known for their successful Equine Therapy Program. Learn more at www.hoperisingministries.org