We wrote a few weeks ago in our post Did You Think of Everything? about a mother who didn’t think to warn her daughter about the dangers of trafficking. It is hard to warn our children about a problem we ourselves do not understand. You can’t just tell your kids “don’t touch knives”. They’ll wonder what a knife is, why they can’t touch it, what happens if they touch it, can they touch it without anyone finding out. The mystery deepens and becomes like an itch they just have to scratch. We have to show them what a knife is, explain what happens if you touch the sharp blade, tell them what to do if they see a knife, and what they should do if they cut themselves. Knowledge is power. By explaining the knife, your child will stop and think about the dangers of a knife and be better prepared when they encounter one. More importantly – they are now equipped to know how to handle the situation should they encounter a knife and they know what to do if they cut themselves.
In the next few weeks, our blog will post tips for parents and teens on staying safe. Like the knife scenario, we first want to look at what trafficking is. Many people are still hearing about this threat for the first time, so this week let’s look at the basics.
What makes a girl vulnerable to becoming sexually exploited?
- Childhood sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Parental alcohol and drug use
- Domestic violence, neglect, or abandonment
- Running away from home, homelessness and economic need/poverty
How do adolescents become victims of trafficking?
Most girls (and boys) become victims in one of the following ways:
- Running away and living on the streets, making them vulnerable to pimps.
- Girls may be recruited by “Romeo” pimps. Romeo pimps will pose as a boyfriend. They are very perceptive when choosing girls and will target those with tough home lives or low self-esteem. The Romeo pimp will brainwash her into thinking he actually loves her and has her best interest at heart.
- Girls may be kidnapped and forced by “guerrilla” pimps. Guerrilla pimps are violent, they use abuse and intimidation to recruit and keep the girls. They will often “break” the girl’s will to prepare her for prostitution and her new life. This is done in several ways: physical and sexual abuse, isolation, coercion, threats, and substance abuse.
- Involvement in gang-related prostitution. Girls are used as a revenue stream, in addition to drugs and weapons.
- A parent or relative pimps their child in exchange for money or non-monetary items.
- International or domestic major crime operations “circuits”
- The “glamorization” of the subject in movies, television, and music leads girls to think the life is glamorous and they traffic themselves.
For more information, check out our page “The Issue“. Shared Hope International also has a good “What is Sex Trafficking” page with an easy to follow diagram.
We encourage our readers to share this information! Spread the word about what is happening to our children. You just might save a child’s life.
Tune in next week for “Safety Tips for Teens”!