Given the number of children who will be approached by some type of predator, parents have a bigger challenge than ever in raising children. The FBI tells us that there are over 800,000 predators online. There are two types of predators. One type seduces an individual to come see them and then locks them in their basement as a sex slave for their own personal use. A Human Trafficker is a predator who sells their victims to others as part of a business. The good news is that there are many resources to facilitate parents in discussing online predators with their children. You can find our parent presentation on the Educational Resource tab at this site on the Prevention section.
Above is a video from Netsmartz, a site hosted by The Center for Missing and Exploited Children. To find more resources, go to their site and select videos. They are short which is perfect for the attention span of a child or teen. Once you are done viewing the video together, ask your child what they thought. Most likely they will respond with "I'm too smart to ever be tricked like that!" To which you respond, "According to the FBI and Homeland Security, predators are beyond clever at tricking kids and they have tricked the smartest kids out there!" Then you can discuss teen recruiters on our school campuses and having privacy settings on all their social media apps like Kik, Snap Chat, etc. so they are only talking to their friends in real life. If you are not sure how to set that up, do what teens and tweens do, go to You Tube and simply search for "How to set up privacy settings for (name of app)" You need to make a rule that you will take their phone away if you find out they are talking to strangers. If they respond with "Don't you trust me?!" You say..."Yes, I trust you, but I don't trust the thousands of predators out there and I know that "talking to strangers" is common with teens, so I want to take away the temptation." You need to check their phones on a regular basis to make sure they haven't changed the settings.
What about a teens right to privacy? Safety trumps privacy and given that the human brain is not fully developed until 25, minors literally lack the capacity to always make good decisions. We need to protect them. A minor is worth over $300,000 a year to a Human Trafficker. Once they are forced into the life, within one week a Human Trafficking victim suffers from a more serious case of PTSD than an individual who has been involved in a war. The life expectancy of a Trafficking victim is less than 7 years, often the result of Aids or being beaten to death. Is it worth taking the risk?!
What about boys? There is a demand for boys as victims. However boys are less likely to self-identify as there is more shame associated with having been used as a sex trafficking victim. We are all aware of how boys are victimized by viewing porn and becoming porn addicts and there is advice on how to deal with this on the "Reduce Demand" tab. However, what many are not aware of is how often boys are solicited for naked pictures for child porn rings. The way sextortion works is a guy pretends he is a girl and sends naked picture of women to the teen boy. Then the boy is asked for naked photos. The predator then posts the pictures at his website and that boy will be bombarded with disgusting solicitations to have sex and they can’t get the picture back! How can a kid tell his parents about that?! You need to let them know that they are thousands of predators out there tricking kids into doing all kinds of stupid things and they best thing they can do is come to you if they have done something stupid. You are committed to them.
At the very least, one of the actions you need to take to protect your children is to take your wifi box and put it in your bedroom and turn it off at night and take away your child’s cell phone. You don’t want your children to have any internet access at night! Teens can use any device to get on the internet if your wifi is on. An old cell phone with no service works. Night is when the porn users stay up all night looking at porn and predators are talking to your children. They also do it during the day, but at least this will limit it. Many teens sleep with their cell phone, sometimes right under their pillow. The electromagnetic and radio waves coming from a cell phone close to ones head can damage brain cells which is another good reason to take their phone away at night. Take the charger with you and charge it at night.
Make it safe for your teens to talk to you. Kids are really stressed out in today's society, so you need a combination of compassion and setting boundaries that is done without yelling so it is safe for them to come to you if they are being bullied, etc. Threatening your children with serious consequences if you ever find out they have been doing something you could not stand will drive them to their peers or a trafficker who will be totally understanding of why they did what they did. Let them know that if you find out that they are no longer a virgin or did something really stupid, yes, you will be upset and/or disappointed, but you will get over it. Be honest but keep it in perspective. It is okay if you “lose it” from time to time, just not all the time. One mother who found that her son had been viewing porn on his cell phone, took his phone and threw it into a wall so hard, it shattered. Her son started crying and said “Thank you! Thank you for doing that because I couldn’t stop myself!” Not every child is going to thank you but keep in mind that porn and all the texting from predators who will validate your child in order to suck them in, is very addicting and they often can’t stop. It is your job as a parent to stop them.!