What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing or using a child for sexual exploitation in return for something of value. Human trafficking is perceivable to be a problem confined to distant countries, and only the most crime-ridden American cities, however, Dane County is currently experiencing a surge in the number of cases. Thirteen is the average age of the children being groomed and sold for sexual exploitation. It is important for parents to be aware of the dangers of human trafficking, so they are able to teach their children about the behaviors of these individuals and what they can do to remain safe.
Who Are the Traffickers?
Human Traffickers can be male or female, and of any ethnicity or socio-economic group. They can be online contacts, strangers, casual acquaintances, family members, and/or friends.
What Techniques do Traffickers Use to Manipulate and Trap Victims?
Traffickers set up fake online accounts and "friend" youth. They may pretend to date a victim to gain their trust. They may take their victims to parties, give them alcohol and drugs, and manipulate them into having sex. They can use other youth to recruit new victims, and take pictures or videos to blackmail and trap victims.
How do Traffickers Identify their Victims?
Traffickers use a deliberate process to identify and recruit their victims. Recruitment happens in three main phases: scouting, grooming and controlling.
• Less interest in age- appropriate activities.
• Untreated sexually transmitted diseases.
• Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, low self esteem and showing signs of physical injuries and abuse.
• Drastic change in attitude, clothing, friends, and expensive gifts.
• Multiple cell phones.
• Checking into hotel/motels with older males.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Friends:
• Think twice if a friend asks you to do a favor for money.
• Be mindful of your friend dating older guys.
• Ask questions if your friend suddenly has large amounts of money or an upgrade in her clothing, hair, nails etc.
• Be wary of a stranger who you see several times in different places (they could be following you.)
• If you think someone is following you, remain in a crowded place and tell them to stop, or you will call the police.
• Never open the door of your house for someone that you do not know.
• If someone asks if you are alone, tell them that you are meeting a friend.
Tips for Parents:
• Have healthy conversations with your children about human trafficking. Make sure they are aware of the warning signs.
• Know who your children's friends are. If you don't know who they are, find out. Middle school kids are prime targets for human trafficking.
• Remind your children to keep their social media pages private. Predators use social media to find girls and boys to traffic.
• Keep your children busy with activities. Traffickers surf malls, fast food places, parking lots, and gas stations to find their victims.
• Pimps/traffickers watch the victim and study their habits. You or your child may even know the trafficker. When your children leave home, ask them to go with a buddy and stay with him/her.
• Look into a GPS device. An Amber Alert GPS system can easily be added to your child's smart phone.
• If you have suspicions, monitor your child's computer, cell phones, iPads or any digital devices. Look for clues in their bedrooms.
• If you think that something is going on with your child and that they could be in danger, your suspicions are probably right. Don't allow your child to make you feel guilty for making sure that they are safe. You are their parent...not their best friend. It is your responsibility to protect your child.
• Inform your children about the dangers related to commercial sexual exploitation.