January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. It’s never too early to have meaningful dialogues with your children and teens about the issue of child abuse and sex traffic recruitment, an epidemic in America. The media reports stories about sex trafficking sting operations involving minors every day. And the statistics are staggering as seen in the attached (new) Infographic, produced by Selah Freedom, the largest, national organization with the mission to end sex trafficking and bring freedom to the exploited through four strong programs: Advocacy & Awareness, Prevention, Outreach, and Residential.
Here are 5 tips for parents that are invaluable when beginning to dialogue with young children and pre-teens about child abuse and sex traffic recruitment prevention. The tips are excerpted from Selah Freedom’s Prevention Program that equips parents, youth and those who work with them, with the tools they need to avoid being manipulated by a trafficker and successfully prevent girls from being commercially sold.
Tip #1: Conversation Starters
- For younger children, talk about safe vs. unsafe touch
- Encourage your child to use their voice
- Have your child identify their trust triangle (3 safe adults they can talk to)
- Explain the difference between secrets vs. surprises
- Talk about safe screens
- Create a safety plan on what they can do if they don’t feel safe
- If you suspect child abuse or trafficking, notify authorities immediately and keep our child safe by letting the police handle it
- Ask your pre-teen, “what qualities do you want in a relationship?” “How would you know you are unsafe online or in a relationship?” “How would you respond to an unsafe conversation or person that made you feel uncomfortable?”
Tip #2: Communication
- Ask your child what they know about this topic and discuss the facts and myths.
- Identify safety measures that your family can put in place and role-play different scenarios.
- Don’t be afraid to add a bit of humor and assure your child that it is ok to have this conversation.
- Listen to your child speak without interrupting, judging or criticizing.
Tip #3: Education
- Check out “SelahFreedom.com/Prevention” with your child for Safety Tips; Videos/Documentaries/Helpful Links
- Give youth access to resources and safe contacts
- Stay in the loop and check out new apps as youth are using them. Remember to use parental controls on your children’s cell phones to prevent internet solicitation & pornography.
Tip #4: Spotting The Signs
- Sexual knowledge and experience beyond their years
- Hyper-awareness of the genital area, touching, discussing, etc. with themselves or other children/teens
- History of emotional, physical and sexual abuse in families
- Fear/hesitance of adult (s) or being alone with a particular person
Tip #5: Keep Up the Dialogue
It’s not “one and done” …. keep the conversation going with your kids each year as they are growing up and maturing.
About Selah Freedom:
Selah Freedom is a national organization with the mission to end sex trafficking and bring freedom to the exploited through four strong programs: Advocacy & Awareness, Prevention, Outreach, and Residential. Selah is a Hebrew word that means to pause, rest, and reflect. We give survivors a chance to do just that. Women in our programs have an opportunity to dream again; to discover who it is they were created to be. In 2010, Selah Freedom’s founders, Elizabeth Melendez Fisher Good, Laurie Swink, and Misty Stinson, discovered the horrifying truth that local children were being bought and sold for sex right here in our own communities – American children! What began as the grassroots initiative of women from across the country to be a voice for the voiceless, has quickly transformed into the nation’s largest, thriving human trafficking service organization that closely partners with law enforcement, legislators, and influential leaders to not only shed light on the staggering statistics, but we are working together to change those statistics by changing lives.