January is National Human Trafficking Month
January is National Human Trafficking month and here's why it matters: In order to prevent it, you need to be aware of what it is.
Whether you have kids or not, you need to be aware of what is happening with our teens and young children.
It will be four years this coming March that I really learned what human sex trafficking is and how bad the problem is in my own city.
At that time, I was hearing more stories of girls and boys being tricked into a relationship, raped, and then forced (through manipulation) to be sold for sex. For the most part, they had a relationship or knew their trafficker before being tricked.
Yes, sometimes the parents are selling their own kids.
Lately, however, I hear more and more stories of kids being tricked through sextortion* by child predators (adults who connect with them online). They get to know them through apps and pretend to be their friend or boyfriend/girlfriend.
Manipulation + Shame
They are experts at manipulation and look for any sign of weakness or vulnerability.
They study their victims and learn all about their friends, their school, their activities, their fears, and their dreams.
Then they trick them into sending compromising photos or videos of themselves. Those photos or videos can then be used to force them into having sex or sending more photos and videos.
Child predators also upload those photos onto Porn Hub and/or are sold on the dark web.
Shame is a powerful weapon, especially with a teenager.
Sadly, many of our teens don't think it's a big deal to send a nude selfie. "Everyone is doing it." "You're a prude if you don't."
Here's the scary part: your child may be wise enough to say "no" to that request, but if her friend makes that mistake, you can bet a child predator will try to manipulate your child into sending one or he will share your child's friend's photos on the internet.
So essentially, it's a ransom for your child's friend's dignity and your child would most likely be afraid to get her friend in trouble, afraid to tell you, or afraid to tell anyone.
This is why it matters that we are all on board as a community. It matters that we know our children's friends and their parents.
It matters that we look out for our neighbor's kids.
Prevention starts with awareness
January is Human Trafficking Month but this is something that is happening every day. Every single day kids are being tricked into having sex (they are being raped--let's be clear) or sending compromising photos and we MUST prevent it through awareness!
We're past the point of not bringing it up because it's so dark or horrible to think about. It's happening and we all play a role in ending it.
National Human Trafficking Hotline
For immediate assistance, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. You can reach the Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in more than 200 languages. All calls are confidential and answered live by highly trained Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates.
*Learn more about how I started beLydia and found out about Human Trafficking.
Learn more about how your state ranks here.
**Sextortion is when predators trick their victim to send a compromising photo or video. They then use it to force them to continue sending photos and videos or have sex.
National Human Trafficking Month