by: Abigail Eernisse
#1 Don’t be Naïve
Children lack life experiences and boundaries, which make them prime targets for traffickers. “My child would never do that!" is not a guarantee.
#2 Live by Example
What’s in you will show up in them. The way you define and express love shapes their beliefs, self-worth, resilience, and opinions of healthy relationships. Help children distinguish between real love and empty promises.
#3 Affirm Positive Messages
Instill confidence in your children, recognizing and acknowledging when they make positive choices. Tell them why you're proud of who they are: their kindness, ability to share, listening skills etc . . .
#4 Understand Exploitation
Understand sexual exploitation and the trafficking of children and teenagers. For example, understand that traffickers don’t always look scary. Open communication is key. You want your children to know they can tell you anything they see, hear, or experience that makes them uncomfortable. Talk with them and have the real conversations about what is safe, and what is not, as far as what is seen or experienced. Tell them safe adults and peers don’t ask children to keep secrets.
#5 Know Their Inner Circle
Make sure you meet your children’s friends, their friends parents, and the adults they spend time with before they spend time with them alone. Be extra observant of boyfriends or girlfriends who are older, particularly ones who want to hang out with your child alone and thus isolate them.
#6 Monitor and Look Through Phones - Screens
Make sure you are looking through their smart phones. Many apps that are popular expose kids and dangerous situations: TikTok, Snapchat, Blendr, Kik, Yik Yak, Poof, Down, YouNow, and Omegle. Also, Instagram can contain explicit sexual content. Monitor your child's screen time using Family Link - Family Time, Bark, Net Nanny (any porn site etc… can be blocked) or Teen Safe. For more information, see Missing Kids.org
#7 Be Involved
Be involved in your children’s lives. Make sure you have all your children’s logins and passwords on social media. I recommend reviewing and monitoring their access to gaming systems, adult movie channels, and internet sites, often.
#8 Teach Internet Etiquette
Make sure the children in your life know internet etiquette:
-never share personal information
-avoid interaction with people they don’t know -never share inappropriate pictures
-tell one of their adults if someone they’re unfamiliar with contacts them
#9 Watch and Act
Be quick to act and always aware if you notice sudden warning signs such as:
-change in behavior
-gifts you did not buy them
-unexplained absences from school
-controlling dating relationship
Get professional help and resources
#10 Know Where To Get Help
Know your local and trusted organizations involved in anti-trafficking work.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center 888-373-7888 (24/7 hotline)
By, Abigail Eernisse
Visit Abigail's Instagram account for ongoing, accurate information in the fight to end exploitation.