Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January 9, 2018
In 2011, President Barack Obama named January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to raise awareness about this growing issue. In this blog post, we speak openly about child trafficking and the signs of trafficking. ChildSavers provides outpatient mental health therapy and Immediate Response services to children who have experienced trauma. This includes trauma related to sexual abuse and even trafficking.
We all want to protect our community’s children. It does not matter if they are your neighbor’s child or your very own. No decent human being would want a child to be trafficked. Stories of children being trafficked are horrific, terrifying, and leave us all heartbroken. Trafficking, most importantly, leaves children with lasting trauma. Children that are trafficked do not grow up in safe, healthy environments. It is therefore imperative that we arm ourselves with knowledge to protect our youngest.
What is Trafficking?
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, “Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will.”
The Ark of Hope for Children reports that 300,000 children are trafficked in the United Sates every year. The online portion of the industry is one of the fastest growing businesses on the internet, generating billions of dollars. There are over 100,000 sites dedicated to child pornography alone. This is why it is imperative to raise awareness about trafficking.
Often, children exploited in this way come from households that experience dysfunction and have already experienced physical and sexual abuse, and neglect. In other words, many of the children trafficked have high ACE scores and have already experienced untold trauma. Children who experience low self-esteem or self-worth are also at risk.
So how do you know if a child has been trafficked and what do you do?
How to Recognize Human Trafficking
The National Human Trafficking Hotline has identified indicators of trafficking. The indicators include signs found in living conditions, poor mental health and abnormal behavior, poor physical health, and a lack of control. Specifically, they identify red flags as:
- Someone is not allowed to come and go freely from their home
- Has a pimp/manager
- The person has little or no personal items
- Lives in conditions with exceedingly high security such as barbed wire, bars in the windows, cameras, etc.
- The person is submissive or tense, fearful or anxious, depressed, nervous or paranoid
- The person lacks medical care or appears malnourished
- There are obvious signs of abuse such as cuts or bruises, or signs of physical restraint, or sexual abuse
- The person is always accompanied by someone who appears to be overly dominate
- There are inconsistencies in the person’s story
- The person avoids eye contact
If you suspect someone is being trafficked, you are not powerless. You can help. You can call the local authorities such as the Department of Social Services or 911. You can call and make a report to the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1.888.3737.888. The hotline has language capabilities, so any individual can call directly if they choose.
Talking to your Child About Trafficking
While your conversation may be different depending on the age of your child, it is important to communicate with them about avoiding dangerous situations. Here are some tips gleaned from Medium’s article “Human Trafficking — Protect your Children” to guide you:
- Talk to your child about what to do when threatened. Make sure they know that if they are under attack it is OK to yell, fight, and run! Teach your child that it is OK to say, “NO!” when they are in danger.
- Talk to your kids about what is happening in the world and in your community. You may have to adjust the words you use for age appropriateness. Speaking candidly about scary or threatening topics is better than hiding it from them. Hiding the dangers of the world from children will not protect them.
- Monitor your children’s online communications and online browser history to know what your kids are looking at, what social media outlets they are on, and who they are talking to.
- Know when your child meets someone that is new and where they will be meeting them. You can learn about new people in your child’s life by asking them when they come home from their day about whom they met and what they learned in school.
- Make sure your child knows their full name, address, and phone number. Practice it together by having them recite it and write it out (if they are at the reading and writing level).
- Point out safe places to go to in the neighborhood should your child need to run away from a predator. This could be a fire station, public library, police station, or neighborhood center.
- If a child feels threatened by someone, tell them it’s OK to be rude or to yell for help and run away. It is better for them to be a difficult target than be polite to a stranger.
Being involved in your child’s life is the most important protective factor of all. Knowing your child and recognizing changes in their behaviors will help you stay in tune with what is happening in their lives. Never underestimate the power of a healthy, nurturing relationship with an adult.
For more information about Human Trafficking and Prevention visit humantraffickinghotline.org, childrescuenetwork.org, and for a list of US Government Entities combating trafficking click here.