Given that 100% of children online will be approached by some type of predator, parents have a bigger challenge than ever in raising children. There are predators who will seduce an individual to come see them and then lock them in their basement as a sex slave for their own personal use. A Human Trafficker is a predator who sells their victims to others as part of a business. The good news is that there are many resources to facilitate parents in discussing online predators. Our Powerpoint and the script that goes with it and the handout for churches which includes actions for church ministries. This handout is an excerpt from the book"How You Can Fight Human Trafficking, Over 100 Ways to Make a Difference" that you can use for parents. This PP is an outstanding resource to both educate parents on how to protect their children and what community actions we need to take. Here is the power point with sound, so all you have to do is play it. Above is a video from Netsmartz, a site hosted by The Center for Missing and Exploited Children. To find other videos for teens, simply go to their site: www.netsmartz.org/parents and select "Teens" at the top and scroll down to "Real Life Stories." Their videos are also in Spanish and they have great age appropriate videos for "Tweens" and "Kids" that are less than 3 minutes, perfect for a Teens attention span!
Once you are done viewing the video together, ask your child what they thought. Most likely they will respond with "I'm too smart to every be tricked like that!" To which you respond, "According to the FBI and Homeland Security, predators are beyond clever at tricking kids and they have tricked the smartest kids out there!" Then you discuss teen recruiters on our school campuses and having privacy settings on all their social media apps like Kik, Snap Chat, etc. so they can only talk to their friends in real life. If you are not sure how to set that up, do what teens and tweens do, go to You Tube and simply search for "How to set up privacy settings for (name of app)" You need to make a rule that you will take their phone away if you find out they are talking to strangers. If they respond with "Don't you trust me?!" You say..."Yes, I trust you, but I don't trust the millions of predators out there and I know that "Talking to strangers" has become a fad with teens, so I want to take away the temptation." You need to check their phones on a regular basis to make sure they haven't changed the settings.
What about a teens right to privacy? Safety trumps privacy and given that a human's brain is not fully developed until 25, minors literally lack the capacity to make good decisions. We need to protect them. A minor is worth over $300,000 a year to a Human Trafficker, in some cases half a million. Once they are forced into the life, within one week a Human Trafficking victim suffers from a more serious case of PTSD than an individual who has been involved in a war. The life expectancy of a Trafficking victim is less than 7 years, often the result of Aids or being beaten to death. Is it worth taking the risk?
What about boys? There is a demand for boys as victims. However boys are less likely to self-identify as there is more shame associated with having been used as a sex trafficking victim. We are all aware of how boys are victimized by viewing porn and becoming porn addicts and there is advice on how to deal with this on the "porn" tab. However, what many are not aware of is how often boys are solicited for naked pictures for child porn rings. The way this works is a guy pretends he is a girl and sends naked picture of women to the teen boy. Then the boy is asked for naked photos. The predator then posts the pictures at his website and that boy will be bombarded with disgusting solicitations to have sex and they can’t get the picture back! How can a kid tell his parents about that?! You need to let them know that they are millions of predators out there tricking kids into doing all kinds of stupid things and they best thing they can do is come to you if they have done something stupid. You are committed to them.
At the very least, one of the actions you need to take to protect your children is to take your wifi box and put it in your bedroom and turn it off at night and take away your child’s cell phone. You don’t want your children to have any internet access at night! Teens can use any device to get on the internet if your wifi is on. An old cell phone with no service works. Night is when the porn users stay up all night looking at porn and predators are talking to your children. They also do it during the day, but at least this will limit it.
Make it safe for your teens to talk to you. When they call you a b…. start with “You seemed really stressed out. Are you okay?” If their response is “No, I am fine! You are just being a b….” then you say “Well I don’t cook for people who don’t treat me with respect, so I guess you will be making yourself peanut butter sandwiches for dinner!” The point is that kids are really stressed out in today's society, so you need a combination of compassion and setting boundaries that is done without yelling so it is safe for them to come to you if they are being bullied, etc. Threatening your children with serious consequences if you ever find out they have been doing something you could not stand, will drive them to their peers or a trafficker who will be totally understanding of why they did what they did. Let them know that if you find out that they are no longer a virgin or did something really stupid, yes you will be upset and/or disappointed, but you will get over it. Be honest, but keep it in perspective. It is okay if you “lose it” from time to time, just not all the time. One mother who found that her son had been viewing porn on his cell phone, took his phone and threw it into a wall so hard, it shattered. Her son started crying and said “Thank you! Thank you for doing that because I couldn’t stop myself!” Not every child is going to thank you but keep in mind that porn and all the texting from predators with their approval and validation, etc. is very addicting and they can’t stop. It is your job as a parent to stop them.