Just this week a minor was rescued from trafficking right here in Florida. How was she recruited?
By online social media.
Attention parents: Sex traffickers have online access. Don’t let them access -- and recruit --your kids.
“By asking parents to play an active role in preventing sex traffickers from recruiting their children online, we can help stop this horrific crime,” Bondi said.
Through billboards, mall displays, and in bus shelters throughout Florida, the campaign asks parents and children to sign the online safety pledge.
Parents beware -- and be aware
And one of the prime places traffickers recruit is online through social media -- Facebook, instant messages, Instagram, and more.
Florida ranks 3rd in the nation in the number of calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resouce Center. Before you breath a sigh of relief if you live in another state, that ranking doesn't mean (1) Florida is worse than your state; it simply means that there is a lot of reporting (and a lot of awareness); and (2) your state is not exempt. Why would traffickers leave your state alone?
Educate your kids about online safety
You can take steps to prevent traffickers from accessing your kids. Download the tip sheet and go over it with your kids. Sign the pledge with them:
- NEVER to share inappropriate pictures of myself.
- NEVER to accept a “friend” request or other type of request from a stranger.
- NEVER to agree to meet with someone I’ve met online, or share personal information, such as my home address, school name, or phone number.
- To tell an adult immediately if a stranger uses a social media site, email, or other form of communication to express love or admiration for me, promises me a ticket to another location, or promises to make me a star.
- To remember that I can talk to my parents, or a trusted adult, about anything.
Sign this pledge with your kids and then post it by your computer as a reminder.
Tips for parents
As parents you can help prevent your child from becoming a trafficking nightmare. Bondi recommends:
- Talk to your children about sex trafficking and sexual abuse. Describe human trafficking as modern-day slavery where people are captured and treated inhumanely. Awareness is the first step in preventing it.
- Restrict use of the computer to the living room or other area of the house where other family members are present.
- Know your child’s screen names and passwords, even if you have your child write them down and put them in a sealed envelope. If anything happens, you will be able to access your child’s accounts to trace who he or she has been communicating with.
- Use the parental control settings on your computer to check the Internet history. Look for warning signs in your children, such as mood swings and anxiety; new friends who are significantly older; and new gifts, pre-paid credit cards, clothes or cell phones that you did not purchase.
- Let your children know they can talk to you, or a trusted adult, about anything that makes them uncomfortable.
Born2Fly has free age-appropriate anti-trafficking curriculum for teens and young children. You can download it at www.born2fly.org.