The best way to be vigilant and protect your family and friends is by is by learning the signs and indicators of trafficking and by candidly talking about the possible risks with your kids. Having open, honest discussions about this will go a long way. If your kids encounter an uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation/person, ensure they have access to a safe adult person to report to.
Increasingly, traffickers are turning to online message boards, social media websites, private messaging chat apps, shopping centers, and other public places to recruit victims. Traffickers often connect with children online and being the process of grooming and luring. They look for vulnerabilities or holes in a young persons life and they try to fill them.
- Does she have low self esteem? Traffickers will compliment her and tell her she’s pretty. Does she feel unloved and alone? Traffickers will pose as doting boyfriends and make false promises.
- Traffickers and other predators are using Kik, Facebook, Line, Yikyak, Omegle, Ask.fm, Whisper, Snapchat, Instagram to have direct access to kids.
- Parents should insist on knowing the passwords to all electronic devices you kids use.
There are instances of peer to peer recruitment going on in high schools. Frank discussions around this issue for both male and female children is of value. Traffickers sometimes using older girls to recruit other females first by befriending them, and then turning them over to a pimp.
It is important for parents to be able to recognize the warning signs and share the luring tactics these criminals use with their children.
Signs that your child could be trafficked include:
- Older boyfriend in their lives who are controlling;
- Frequently going to or coming from places that are unusual for their age group to attend such as hotels or motels, clubs etc.
- Dress more provocatively; Staying out late or all night;
- Hang out with new friends who are older than them;
- Ignore childhood friends and family members;
- Drinking or use drugs;
- Skipping school, skipping meals, skip showers or stop changing clothes;
- Exhibit anxious behaviour, lack of sleep, depression;
- Ignore rules and instructions at school or at home,
- Lie or unable to recall events in their lives;
- Carrying false ID, one or more cell phone(s);
- Has expensive or new clothes, shoes or jewellery of unknown origin;
- Spending more money and possessing expensive items like iPods or video games or receive gifts from a new friend or boyfriend;
- Talk about a modeling or other job contract waiting in another town or city;
- Become more secretive about spending time online or on cell phone; and
- Become frightened of being online or on cellphone/telephone.