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How to protect your child from human trafficking

Published: January 11, 2017

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery and a multibillion-dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people, including children, around the world. According to the FBI, human trafficking is believed to be the third-largest criminal activity in the world. Sadly, many cases of human trafficking include children who are forced labor, or are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Keep your child safe from human traffickingFoster children are at high risk for human trafficking. Children who fall victim to the sexual exploitation of human trafficking tend to come from several different backgrounds. They may be runaways, victims of prior sexual abuse, homeless, children looking to belong and hoping to find acceptance, or children who have been victimized in other fashions and seek love as well as a sense of belonging.

Human traffickers target large facilities, such as foster care group homes where they are able to locate a greater number of children who are defenseless, vulnerable and hurting. In a trafficker’s eye, these children are easy targets to victimize, lure and exploit.

The facts are alarming — so how can foster parents help prevent their children from being victims? Here are tips to consider.

  1. Set a high standard of “love” within your home.
    • The way you define and express that you care helps shape your children’s self-image, confidence and opinions of future relationships
    • Establish trust and communication with your children from day one
  2. Talk to your children about the dangers of social media
    • It’s important to provide practical safety tips such as not sharing personal information on the Internet
    • Do not accept Facebook requests from unknown people
    • Never sharing inappropriate photos
    • Teach children to understand what friendship means
    • Teach them a friend is not someone you met yesterday and that a “friend” on Facebook is not the same thing as a friendship
  3. Monitor all online activity and cell phone use
    • As a parent you may feel this is an invasion of privacy but monitoring to whom your children are speaking is for their safety and protection
  4. Question and monitor anyone who takes an unusual interest in your children
    • Although it may not always be possible, attend and be present at your children’s activities as much as possible
    • It’s important to know who your children are around on a regular basis
    • By being present, you will be able to identify an unfamiliar person and determine what their role is in your child’s everyday life
  5. Educate your children on human trafficking
    • This effort isn’t meant to scare your children, rather educate them on potential signs or situations to avoid

The number of human trafficking cases increases every year in the U.S. alone, which is why SAFY believes in providing a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of children, youth and families. Together, we can make a positive impact by protecting and preventing innocent children from being victims of human trafficking.

How can you help?

Become an Agent of Hope. Children in foster care want what all children need and deserve — a strong supportive family to help guide and lead them to their greatest potential in life. To become an Agent of Hope or to learn more about SAFY’s foster or foster to adopt network, click here.