Sex Trafficking & Our Children – Real Talk

Last night I was asked at what age I began talking to my children about the Commercial Sexual Exploitation industry.  Tough stuff right there.  Mom’s are supposed to teach the ABC’s and then the Bird’s & the Bee’s but, no-one tells you anything about having to teach your children about this dark, ugly side of the world.  As a woman, I can barely handle the gut-wrenching truth of what happens to individual’s in Sex Trafficking rings, under the abusive control of Pimp’s, working in Brothel’s or the back rooms of Strip Clubs.  So, how in the world are we supposed to talk to our children about it?

I believe education is power, it’s the strongest tool we have in raising our children.  If we are brave enough to get uncomfortable & talk about tough stuff with our children, then they become empowered to make more education decisions in life.  So, ya – I’m that mom, the one that has the awkward conversations about real life stuff with my kids, in hopes that they are never blindsided & violated by a predator.  Here’s a few tips so you can be that mom too 😉

1 – Commercial Sexual Exploitation is a really big name, what the heck does it mean?  In short, its modern-day slavery.  Whenever money or goods are exchanged for sexual acts, that CSE (Commercial Sexual Exploitation).

  • CSE Teaching tip:  The history of slavery is something our children learn about in school and they should know about the powerful movement Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led to abolish slavery.  It’s a perfect tie into modern-day slavery.  Use your child’s understanding of the history of slavery as a base for CSE.  Explain that slavery still exists across the world today, in the form of forced sexual acts.  In my talks with our children, we also use Dr. King’s amazing work as a Civil Rights movement leader, as inspiration for us to stand against the exploitation happening today.

2 – How am I supposed to teach my kids about it if, I don’t really understand it myself?  Educating yourself is the best place to start!  Here are some quick facts to get you started then, explore the internet, watch a documentary, reach out to a local non-profit in your area that’s working in the area.  Become the expert for your children.  The  facts below are from the non-profit Awaken.

  • There are currently 27 million people worldwide who are human trafficking victims, 1 million of which are sexually exploited children. Human trafficking profits equal about $32 billion a year.
  • “450,000 children run away from home every year, and 1 out 3 teens on the streets will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.”
  • “Estimated number of men a woman or child must have sex with daily: 25 – 48 men daily.”
  • 12-14 – Average age of entry into prostitution.

3 – I’ve taught my children about “Stranger Danger” isn’t that enough? No, movies have given our culture a false view of how trafficking starts.  It’s actually less common to have your child kidnapped and forced into CSE.  The below information from Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation gives you insight on the other ways our children are brought into the life of sexual exploitation:

  • “Grooming” is like a process of recruitment and the victims are introduced into a lifestyle which they are made to believe is normal, but which is actually abusive. This may take place online or offline and could include violence, lies, blackmail, or threats. Once groomed, the child is expected to participate in sexual activities, often in exchange for something such as alcohol, gifts, money, affection, drugs, or a place to stay.
  • Exploitation through befriending and grooming:  Children are befriended directly by the perpetrator (in person or online) or through other children and young people. This process may begin with a girl (or boy) being targeted and befriended by a young boy or girl usually known to her as an equal, ie a classmate, a friend of a sibling, or a neighbor.  This introductory young person later introduces the child to either one or more older men, whom s/he may describe as an older sibling or cousin. The older men offer the child attention in the form of gifts, flashy cars, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.  To the child, it is new and exciting. The older men treat the child as an adult and deliberately portray her/his parents as unreasonable and overly-strict, should they seek to intervene.
  • Boyfriend/Pimp Model:  Perpetrators target children posing as ‘boyfriends’, showering the child with attention and gifts to cause infatuation. They initiate a sexual relationship with the child, which the child is expected to return as ‘proof’ of her/his love or as a way of returning the initial attention and gifts. The child is effectively told that they owe the perpetrators money for cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, car rides etc and that sexual activities are one way of paying it back.
  • The Party Model:  Parties are organized by groups of men to lure young people. Young people are offered drinks, drugs and car rides often for free. They are introduced to an exciting environment and a culture where sexual promiscuity and violence is normalized. Parties are held at various locations and children are persuaded (sometimes financially) to bring their peers along.  Children are also encouraged to associate with others via Facebook, Snapchat, Bebo, ooVoo, etc. The parties may be held some distance from the child’s home, enabling the perpetrators to force the child to have sex in return for a lift home. Drugs and alcohol are used to suppress the children’s resistance. Images may be taken of them without their clothes for purpose of future bribery.

4 – Holy Smokes, I had no idea – now what?  Talk, Talk, Talk!  Communication and openness is the best tool you have as a parent.  Let your children know they are loved and supported and you will show grace if they make a mistake.  

  • Get awkward first so, they know they can have awkward conversations with you about tough stuff.
  • Give them an out!  I really love this idea – the X Plan.  Simple and smart way to give your kids a way out when they need it!
  • Get involved:  Find a local non-profit working to abolish CSE and helping victims then, sign-up to volunteer.  Show your kids that they have power to make a change in the world, motivate them to be the next Martin Luther King Jr. and lead a Civil Rights movement to end modern-day slavery!
  • Get Fired UP!!!  Take your knowledge and share it with others, help more parents become aware of the reality of children being trafficked in your neighborhoods.  This is not an oversees problem, this is a local, personal issue!   Take a stand, spread the word, don’t back down.  Mom’s & Dad’s, it’s time to dig in and fight – all of our children need your strength and courage.

This article is written for all parents, trying to figure out how to raise your children in a broken and sometimes scary world.  There are many more facts about the world of CSE and all the different ways people become trapped in the “life” but, this article was written specifically as a conversation starter with your children.  The age you choose to start having those conversations is completely up to you.  Personally, we started introducing it at the age of 9 and as our children get older we talk about it in greater depth.  Remember, the average age of entry is around 14 years old…

So, grab a cup of coffee and get awkward with you kids, it will be awesome, it will be a game-changer, I promise.



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