Something is happening in Florida…something very dangerous, very wrong, and it involves our children and youth. Child sex trafficking – the very phrase makes people tend to look the other way and believe their children could never be victimized by such crimes. Yet these crimes are happening in our own communities and to our own children. Our kids are not for sale – and the more we understand this world of child sex trafficking, the better we can prevent it. Here are the facts:
Here are a few important facts to keep in mind about child sex trafficking:
- Up to 300,000 American children are lured into the commercial sex trade every year.
- The average age a child is trafficked is just 11 years old.
- 90% of child sex traffic victims have a sexual abuse history.
With these alarming statistics, where do we begin in the battle to keep our children safe from trafficking? Since 90% of child sex traffic victims have a sexual abuse history, doesn’t it make sense that we safeguard all children with education and knowledge at an early age so they never become abuse victims in the first place?
Prevention education is key. Children are educated about fire safety, and pool safety. They learn to call 911 in emergencies. They are taught about stranger danger. But what are we teaching them about adults in their lives who may intend to harm them? Often, we teach them to trust and obey the very adults who end up abusing or exploiting them.
Tips for Parents and Caregivers:
• Start at a young age (4) and talk with your children about their bodies, boundaries, safe and unsafe touches and secrets.
• Empower children that their bodies are special and belong to them.
• Empower your children that they have a voice and can say “NO” if something does not feel right or is uncomfortable.
• Tell your children they can talk with you about anything, and reassure them that you will not be uncomfortable with what they say.
• Listen and remain “poker- faced” no matter what they say so communication does not break down.
• Do NOT use the terms “good touch” or “bad touch” – it is too confusing, as sexual abuse can sometimes feel good. Use “Safe Touch” and “Unsafe touch”.
KidSafe Foundation is an organization that provides prevention education to children, parents, teachers, and other care-taking adults. With the teaching approach of fun, not fear, children ages 4-11 learn the important concepts of safe touch/unsafe touch, circle of safe adults, check first, and a host of other critical life safety skills. The adults in their lives also receive training on how to speak to the children in a language of safety that is comfortable, age-appropriate and consistent. This adult component of the training is crucial – is it fair to place all the responsibility of safety and prevention on our kids? How can we expect them to speak up when many adults aren’t comfortable or aren’t quite sure how to advocate for these children? It is our responsibility as adults to protect children in every way possible, and education is the first step.
Imagine if every child in this country received some kind of prevention education like this? Now imagine someone trying to lure a KidSafe-educated teen. This teen would understand red flag signals, a safety voice, and talking with someone in his or her circle of safe adults. Even a little hesitation on a child’s part could dissuade a trafficker from pursuing him or her.
We all need to send a strong message to people everywhere – our kids are not for sale! We care, and we will do everything in our power to protect them. Come hear KidSafe speak on November 14, 2015 at PTA Health & Wellness Summit. For more information about KidSafe www.kidsafefoundation.org