In today’shi-techworld,it’stoo easy for predators tofind and contactpotential victims.Children and teenslovemaking friends and posting onsocial media. But do theyreallyknow their online “friends”?According to the2020 Human Trafficking Reportdistributedby the HumanTrafficking 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, with59% of online victim recruitment in active sex trafficking cases occurringthroughFacebook.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 asmile sent to a predator initiates the grooming process. They hide in online anonymity, entice, and build trust in the victim.The reportfoundthat human traffickers weremostlikely to control their victims using nonphysical methods of coercion,such assextortionorthreats ofseriousharmto them or a family member if they don’t perform a sexual act,fraud,or blackmail.Thisreal threat of human trafficking by online predatorsrequires us toteachkidsabout internet safetyand using Facebook. Afewsimple rulesfor 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.
OffenderWatchoffers a great tool to helpkids safe: theOffenderWatch App. This appallows you to find sex offenders near you or your family members, andwith the premiumoption,also notifiesyou should a registered sex offender try to contact your child through text, email or SnapChat.Help us prevent the unthinkable,Download the Free OffenderWatch App for Apple.Download the Free OffenderWatch App for Android.