Do you leave your front door unlocked? Or are you the type that locks the doorknob, the deadbolt and sets the alarm whether you’re at home or not?
We have locks on our doors to keep unwanted guests out of our homes. We want to protect our belongings, but more importantly, the people we love.
None of us would willingly open our front doors to dangerous people and invite them in to have their way in our homes, but it happens every day through technology.
When we allow our children to get on the internet unsupervised and uneducated, it’s like leaving our front doors unlocked and wide open so evil can enter in and easily access everything and everyone in our home.
More and more victims of human sex trafficking are being lured through the internet and it is because teens are on it without supervision or education. I spoke with a mother whose daughter had been lured into the sex trade through Facebook, twice. Fortunately for this family, the young lady was rescued twice and the mother cancelled all internet access on the computer. Evil is out there lurking, looking for our children. We don’t need provide easy access. 1 Peter 5:8 says,
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Notice, Peter never says to live your life in fear. Fear is a tactic of the enemy, not the Lord [2 Timothy 1:7]. However, he does warn us to live our lives on alert; be aware. While sex trafficking is not a respecter of persons and there is no way to be 100% certain your child will not fall victim to it, there are steps you can take, especially on social media, to make them a less likely target; a bigger risk for the perpetrator.
These steps are important for you to discuss with your child or children in your sphere of influence and then put them into practice.
- Never accept a friend request from someone you don’t have a face to face relationship with outside of social media. This ensures that you know who you are sharing information with in your posts.
- If you don’t recognize a name of a person you’ve accepted as a friend, then unfriend them. It is better safe than sorry. If you don’t recall who they are, they aren’t really a friend anyway.
- Set your security settings for private, so only your friends have access to your posts and pictures.
- Do not post pictures of yourself in bathing suits or revealing or tight fitted clothing. Traffickers troll the internet looking for their next target and pictures can peek their interest.
- Never post where you’re going, only post where you’ve been. You don’t want to provide a road map for a perpetrator to find you. Also, never post where you’ve been if you routinely visit the location at a set time every week, such as dance class or music lessons.
- Make sure you deactivate your GPS on your smart phone before posting pictures on your social media; otherwise, it indicates your location.
- Don’t accept a friend request from someone just because they are mutual friends with some of your friends. Traffickers are known to use this tactic to gain access to girls social media pages and then invite the entire friend list to be their friend.
- Don’t air out your dirty laundry on social media. If you are having problems at home with a parent or sibling, social media is not the place to broadcast it. Perpetrators look for girls complaining about their home life so they can swoop in to save the day as the rescuer who will only show their true colors and intentions once they’ve moved you from a place of familiarity and safety.
- As a parent, or someone who works with youth, make your presence known on your child’s social media page by commenting on a post of hers or liking something she’s posted. It lets those who may be surfing social media pages know your child has a parent, coach or youth worker who is aware and actively involved in her life. A word to the wise, make sure your comments are honoring and not embarrassing or your child will unfriend you.
- Make sure you know your child’s social media pages and passwords. Monitor them regularly, talking with them about anything you feel may be too revealing in their posts and asking them to delete them if necessary. If it becomes a problem, shut down their social media for a period of time or cancel internet service.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is, however, things I’ve learned from survivors of sex trafficking as well as from the detectives who rescue them. To gain more free resources on the topic, click here.
Do you have additional thoughts of steps teens can take to keep themselves safe? If so, please share them here. Collectively, we can help educate our youth and those who work with them to make safe.
If you know a parent of teens or someone who works with them, share this blog post with them. The more people we educate the greater the chance we will make an advance against this heinous crime against our children.
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