Did you know January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month? Indeedy, ’tis true. In order to raise awareness and help us better understand how-to approach the topic of human trafficking with our daughters, I’ve invited, author, speaker, and human trafficking expert, Kimberly Rae to share with us today.
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Does your daughter know how to recognize a predator? Would she know how to help a friend at risk?
The average age for a girl in the US to be trafficked is 12-14. I had planned to talk with my daughter about trafficking when she was 16, maybe 15. Not 11. But now that I know predators look for easy targets, and young ones, I want to make sure my daughter, and yours, are aware and safe.
We can have good conversations, and even fight human trafficking together with our daughters, without having to fear over-educating them in the dark horror of the sex trade.
- Introduce the topic in a non-personal way. If you start talking about the dangers of sharing too much information on Facebook, your daughter might think you’re attacking her friendships or implying she’s doing something wrong. Better to read a book or watch a movie together on the topic, then discuss human exploitation from that springboard, leading to how it affects their lives personally. Age-appropriate resources are hard but not impossible to find. Here are a few:
* Ages 2-10: Veggie Tales’ Tomato Sawyer & Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue
*Ages 10-13: Disney’s The Rescuers
*Ages 13 and up: Videos at Women at Risk International (choose with discretion)
*Ages 2-10: The story of Joseph in the Bible. He was sold by his brothers, taken across the border and sold as a slave.
*Ages 10-13: Capturing Jasmina–yes, this is my book, but one of the reasons it was written is because I could not find a book on this topic safe to give to a pre-teen. The book presents trafficking and missions from the perspective of a 10-year-old girl who escapes from slavery in a garment factory.
*Ages 13 and up: Stolen Woman–this book also presents human trafficking and missions, through the story of a college-age girl who plans to work with orphans in India and accidentally meets a trafficked girl she’s determined to rescue.
2. Fight trafficking as a team! You can host a jewelry party through www.warinternational.org or www.rahabsrope.com. Or you can shop these sites together for special gifts that also raise awareness. You could also work on the topic of modern day slavery as a school project, studying and raising awareness together.
Other important ways you can help protect your daughter from exploitation:
1. Affirm your teen’s worth and value, so she doesn’t need to look for it in dangerous places.
2. Be real about the dangers out there, especially on the internet. Predators can pose as young girls, or even be young girls working for traffickers. Make sure your teen knows to never, ever, go alone or just with another teenager to meet an online friend.
3. Be present. Friend her on Facebook and let her know it. Be part of her life, ask about her friends, be involved enough that if she brings up a concern about so-in-so, you know who she’s talking about.
4. Care more about her than what she think of you. If it comes down to it, don’t keep from warning her about a dangerous behavior or friendship just because you don’t want her mad at you.
5. Give her resources. Get her your phone number and tell her she can call you anytime if she is in a situation she needs out of. Also teach her the human trafficking hotline number (1-888-373-7888, or the easier to memorize way, 888-3737-888) if she sees a questionable situation where someone is being victimized, or even if she just has questions.
6. As awkward as it might be at first, let her know she can ask you questions about sex, body parts, or things she hears or experiences. A lot of kids get hooked on pornography by googling things they are embarrassed to ask an adult, like, “What is sex?”
7. Help her develop safe boundaries beforehand. What is appropriate touch and when does it cross the line to inappropriate? What photos are okay to post on Facebook and what kind attract predators? Abuse happens sometimes because the victim isn’t sure if what is happening is allowable or not, especially if it is coming from someone in a trusted position.
8. Lastly, reassure her that, whatever happens, you are there to love her and listen to her, and you don’t want her ever to keep secrets because she is embarrassed or ashamed.
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Kimberly Rae lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia. Her Christian suspense/romance novels on international human trafficking (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child and Stolen Future) are all Amazon bestsellers. Rae now lives at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, where she writes and trains on human trafficking. Rae is married and has two young children. Find out more or order autographed books at www.kimberlyrae.com.
Have you approached the topic of human trafficking with your daughter? Are there any tools or resources you have found valuable? Do share.