February 5th, 2020
ACPeds Parent Talk

Keeping parents up to date on the latest news in child and teen health
7 Ways to Prevent Child Trafficking
According to homeland security, 1 in 5 children in the US are at risk to be sexually exploited by the time they are 18. As alarming as that fact is, there is actually something you can do about it to empower your children and prevent them from becoming a victim of child exploitation. We spoke with a nationally recognized speaker and trainer, the president and CEO of paving the way foundation, Jan Edwards, and she has some insightful and helpful tips for you to disrupt the cycle and keep your kids safe. Paving the Way Foundation has educated over 12,000 children and adults over the past 3 years, so they know a little something about this topic. We invite you to get a little uncomfortable so you can have important conversations that will impact your child's life. 

Here are 7 tips on how you can help prevent child trafficking: 
Get Educated
Human Trafficking is a growing issue in the United States. According the National Trafficking Hotline, Florida ranks 3rd in the Nation, behind California and Texas. There were 5,147 human trafficking cases reported in 2018. Children make up 27% of that number. There are several types of trafficking including labour & sexual exploitation, organ harvesting and domestic servitude. Most of which is hidden in plain sight. The American College of Pediatricians has a good statement on Child Sex Trafficking with some tips on prevention.
Know the Facts
Over 1,900 children were reported to be victims of sexual exploitation in 2017 in the State of Florida. According to DCF[LH1] , the average age of child that is trafficked is 12 - 14. Children from all walks of life are intentionally targeted and recruited. Trafficking knows no socio, eco, and demographic boundaries. For those who think their children are immune or it won’t happen to them, think again. A friend of mine has a daughter, good girl, straight A student, was invited to a party by one of the ‘popular’ kids, all she remembers is walking into the party and waking up the next day. She still has nightmares and won’t talk about what happened.
Learn the Signs
Pimps, profiteers and predators are expert manipulators. They know how to hone in on a child’s insecurity, starting with recruitment. A recruiter will establish rapport quickly; profess undying love, insists the relationship stay a ‘secret’. From an outsider’s point of view, look for unexplained gifts or money, new behavior toward parents or friends and misses school often.

This is the number one tip. Being a teen has its challenges. Trying to fit in, finding a passion or purpose can be exhausting. Spend time with your kids. Know what they love, their passions, who their friends are and where they spend their time. If they are a gamer, learn about Xbox. Got a music lover in the family? Attend concerts together. Bottom line: talk to each other and build a close relationship. By following this tip, you can avoid a break in trust and create open communication.
The Role of Social Media
Infringement on privacy is a heated issue. I am not saying be a helicopter parent, as that can erode trust. What I am suggesting is to be responsible for your child’s safety. Follow them on social media, get updates on their posts and know who they are friends with online. Know their passwords. It’s about keeping them safe vs ‘spying’ on them. Limit their time and teach online responsibility. All a child needs to do is complain and online predators will jump in with an empathic ear. They befriend them and begin to build a wedge between your child and you. Social media is not going away; learn how to use it and to be wary of any ‘new’ friend request.
We spend hours on our phones, laptops and other devices. Look around any day and see how many people are on their phones. We don’t look at each other, let alone talk to one another. My tip is: heads up, eyes open. You might see a young girl or boy improperly dressed for the weather with a visibly older man, with sorrow and fear in her eyes. Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t look right or feel right, make the call. You could save a life.
Take an action
Now you know, you can’t unlearn what you’ve read. What can you do? I’m going to ask you to do three things. First, share this information with your friends and family. Secondly, have a conversation with your kids, nieces or siblings. Talk with them about human trafficking and learn more about it together. Lastly, if you see something, DO something! Please put this number in your phone, it’s the National Trafficking Hotline 888-373-7888 . You can call 24/7 and all calls are anonymous.
“Parents are our front line of defense. It is important that they get comfortable with uncomfortable conversations, and we are here to help!” - President and CEO of Paving the Way, Jan Edwards. 

This resource was provided by Jan Edwards, the CEO of Paving the Way Foundation , an organization in Florida committed to disrupting the cycle of child trafficking around the world through awareness, education and empowerment. She has spoken to thousands on trafficking and how to prevent it, and is the writer/producer of the award-winning film, Trapped in the Trade . Here are her tips to prevent child trafficking:

The future of our children is in your hands.
So, what now?
Helpful resources for more information.

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