SURFING THE UNDERWORLD OF SEX TRAFFICKING
Human trafficking has many faces, and its popularity has grown over the years. A large number of the victims are vulnerable minorities, particularly from deprived areas where opportunities are not many. It could also be racial minorities or displaced people such as runaways or refugees. While this is the case, it is essential to know that people of any race, class, or social background can be trafficked. Women and children, in particular, are at great risk of sex trafficking.
So, what is sex trafficking?
Sex trafficking is the most deadly form of human trafficking. It is a trade of forced prostitution where people, in this case, young innocent girls are recruited for commercial sex acts using force, fraud, or buying children from their parents. Kids can as well be picked off at shopping malls, clubs, city streets, and virtually any public place. Criminals who engage in this act apply different tactics to coerce vulnerable girls and boys. Coercion here can include deceit, physical, or psychological threats against the children and/or their families.
Child sex trafficking is an atrocious crime against humanity. Although exact numbers are difficult to ascertain, the U.S. Department of Justice showed that approximately 300,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation every year. Additionally, UNICEF, in its report, estimated that about 2.5 million children, the majority of them girls, are trafficked across the globe every year. With over $12 billion per year in revenue, child trafficking remains the second-largest business world trade after drug trafficking.
Why do sex traffickers target children?
Sex traffickers choose to target children mainly because of their naivety and vulnerability.
Contributing Factors To Children Sex Trafficking Pandemic
Many contributing factors are leading to the growth of child trafficking. One major cause of this pandemic is the high demand for pornography from pedophiles in the sex entertainment industry. Some consider pornography the number one driver of child sex exploitation. Children are often forced to act out scenes in hard-core movies for paying customers. With relatively minor legal deterrents in place, the desire to feed their addiction is causing more people to take part in this illegal industry. Consequently, many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in this industry or prostitution. Some other contributing factors to children sex trafficking include:
- Lack of social, political and economic stability
- Lack of realistic and reasonable prospects
- Greed and desire for a greener pasture
- Oppression, domestic violence, family structure disintegration, and gender discrimination
- Lack of proper education and access to information on the importance of respecting other human beings
- Lack of appropriate legislation against human trafficking
5 Top Things You Can Do As Parents To Help Your Children Against Sex Trafficking
Now that you know what children sex trafficking is and the factors causing it, you must learn about those things you can do to help your children to prevent sex trafficking. Outlined below are five (5) of them.
1. Know your children’s whereabouts
Knowing where your children are is simply no longer enough. When they are off to college or travel, they must understand that sex traffickers can appear to be any harmless-looking person, who, in reality, is skilled at tricking girls via say, asking for help. If someone apparently needy asks for assistance, girls should get a security guard to help. They must also understand the difference between being polite and putting themselves into danger. You can also install a reliable safety app on your phones. There are lots of them available for Android and IOS phones.
2. Strictly monitor your children internet use
Sex traffickers can toy with your children over the Internet in their free time until they are emotionally trapped and primed. The simple act of monitoring your children’s internet use can save their life. Offer them practical safety tips, like:
- Don’t share your personal information on the Internet
- Don’t accept social media requests from unknown people
- Do not share your naked photos with anyone, and that
- They should be free to you or any trusted adult if they feel uncomfortable or threatened online.
Social media has given many children an unclear understanding of friendship. Make them understand that a “friend” (say) on Facebook is not the same thing as friendship. Monitor their social media accounts, try to meet their friends, their friends’ parents, and those people they generally hang out with. Take note of boyfriends that are much older or friendships that are likely to cut off your child from others. At regular intervals, check their wardrobes to see they have new makeup products, clothing items, or other items and inquire about them.
3. Enlighten them about sex trafficking
As dreadful as the subject is, you cannot mince words when it comes to educating your innocent kids. In a clear language, let them understand that sex trafficking is when children and women are held captive and raped for the rest of their lives. Talk about ways teens and children are targeted for sex trafficking. Let them understand that traffickers, in particular, try to coerce young boys and girls with promises of a better life, or other ways of taking advantage of them. Also, discuss with them that these criminals can be a female, male or even their classmates, and may use kids to engage other kids.
4. Your children must beware of too-good-to-be-true offers
Let your children understand that offers, such as modeling, dancing, and acting jobs that are too good to be true, are an instant red flag. Countless numbers of young, innocent girls have lost their lives in the process, hoping they were on their way to stardom or to having better opportunities. Furthermore, they should never lose themselves in drugs or alcohol and must avoid elevators, stairwells, bars, clubs, and abandoned streets where they can be easily whisked off sight. By informing your children about the commonly used tactics by traffickers, we can help reduce their vulnerability.
5. Ask Questions
One of the best ways to teach your children how to handle challenging situations is to play the leading role. Discuss possible situations that might occur in different circumstances, like going to a friend’s house, during sports practice, Halloween, outdoor festivals, club, Movie Theater, and many others.
Ask them “what would you do” questions like:
i. What would you do if someone asked you for an inappropriate picture or sent you one?
ii. What would you do if a handsome older person came to you and said he “thinks you are pretty enough to be into modeling or acting? Would you give him your contact number?
Other questions include:
iii. Do you know anybody in your school that has an older boyfriend?
iv. Is it okay if a stranger takes pictures of you?
v. Have you ever received a picture that made you uncomfortable?”
vi. Did any of your friends talk about being paid to go on dates?
Note that these types of conversations can occur while driving them to school or at the dinner table, and may help ease apprehension about the topic. You can also continue the discussion with a talk about the dangers of stranger and internet safety.
BONUS POINT: As a parent, you can join thousands of others in the fight against child sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking is now an established global trade, and its extent is increasing with every passing day. It is, however, up to parents to keep their children safe by building trust, creating open relationships, and by enlightening them on the serious dangers presented by the industry. Furthermore, the way parents describe and express love can shape any child’s confidence, self-image, and opinions about future relationships. Parents should treat the children the exact way they would want their future spouses to treat them. Help them to differentiate between real love and infatuations, cheap gifts, or empty promises.
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