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. The statistics are staggering as seen in the attached 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.
Below are 5 tips for parents that is 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 prevents 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 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 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. For more resources that will help parents teach their children and teens about the signs of child abuse and sex trafficking recruitment and prevention, visit:
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 which 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.