“You warn them about the Boogeyman and you warn them about the dangers of crossing the street without holding an adult’s hand… These are the things that you are worried about when your children are growing up… I don’t think the thought ever crossed my mind that I’d have to warn my daughter about being a child sex slave.” – Mother of a Trafficking Victim
She found out the hard way. So many mothers find out the hard way that there is a deep, dark, horrific world out there that is scarier than any fairy tale monster or busy intersection. This is the world of nightmares, where the boogeymen look like normal people. Where you don’t realize you’ve entered the house of horrors until it’s too late. When you turnaround, the exit has disappeared.
“She said that she loved her family. There’s nothing we did wrong, but she needed to go find herself,” the mother says. “I’m thinking, ‘What, what do you mean go find yourself? You’re 15, you’ve got your whole lifetime to find yourself.’” – Mother of a Trafficking Victim
It is estimated that a third of all runaways each year are lured into child prostitution or pornography within 48 hours of leaving home. Of the 11,800 runaways that were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2015, one out of every five was likely a child sex trafficking victim. In 2014, the estimate was one in six. This problem is not getting better – it is getting worse every year.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (missingkids.org) is a wonderful resource for families. They have fact sheets for parents like ‘signs to watch for’ and ‘tips for keeping your children safe’. The thing they stress: communication! You must talk to your children about the dangers of running away and child sex trafficking. Talk frequently and openly, regardless of how uncomfortable the subject makes you feel. Kids need to know what goes on in the world they will soon be venturing into. Give your children the best possible chance to succeed.
“This hasn’t been easy. This wasn’t anything I ever imagined for her,” Nacole says. “I thought I was so in tune with my children and did everything I could to keep them safe. If this can happen to me, it can happen to you. It can happen to anyone.” – Mother of a Trafficking Victim
This mother’s full story, “Child Sex Trafficking – as easy in Seattle as ordering a pizza”, can be found here.