In today’s hi-tech world, it’s too easy for predators to find and contact potential victims. Children and teens love making friends and posting on social media. But do they really know their online “friends”?
According to the 2020 Human Trafficking Report distributed by the Human Trafficking Institute, the internet is a major platform for traffickers to recruit sex trafficking victims. In 2020, the majority of active sex trafficking cases involved the internet as the primary method of solicitation, with 59% of online victim recruitment in active sex trafficking cases occurring through Facebook.
The report also states that 53% of victims in active human trafficking cases were children.
A nonthreatening message, a compliment, or an innocent photo of a smile sent to a predator initiates the grooming process. They hide in online anonymity, entice, and build trust in the victim.
The report found that human traffickers were most likely to control their victims using nonphysical methods of coercion, such as sextortion or threats of serious harm to them or a family member if they don’t perform a sexual act, fraud, or blackmail.
This real threat of human trafficking by online predators requires us to teach kids about internet safety and using Facebook.
A few simple rules for kids:
- DON’T talk to anyone online that you don’t know in real life.
- DON’T reveal any personal information, your address, or your school.
- DON’T send photos of yourself to strangers online, especially any that are sexual in nature.
- DON’T agree to meet a stranger in person that you have met online.
- DO talk to a parent or a trusted adult if you feel uncomfortable about someone online
Safety guidelines for parents:
- If you allow your child to use Facebook or other social apps, review the privacy settings.
- Know who your kid’s friends are online.
- Encourage your kids to reach out to you and share if a stranger has tried to interact with them inappropriately online.
- Review the apps that your kids use and stay aware of dangerous apps and popular lingo.
- Talk your kids about “stranger danger” online as you would in real life situations.
OffenderWatch offers a great tool to help kids safe: the OffenderWatch App. This app allows you to find sex offenders near you or your family members, and with the premium option, also notifies you should a registered sex offender try to contact your child through text, email or SnapChat. Help us prevent the unthinkable,