For over a decade, I've worked with Canadian survivors of sex trafficking. I want to share with parents how they can protect their daughters. Parents need to understand what the signs are to ensure their daughters are safe. All young girls can be targets for predators. Girls who are being bullied at school, struggling with changes on the home front or otherwise dealing with self-esteem issues are especially vulnerable.
Older boys, who befriend a young girl are the gateway. They groom their targeted victim. The "grooming" process starts when the predator lavishes her with praise and convinces her that he is her biggest champion and her boyfriend. All the while isolating her from her family and support groups and making her totally dependent on him, the perpetrator.
The Signs To Watch For:
There are several classic signs that someone could be preying on your child:
How Sex Trafficking Works:
It's important to understand the mental manipulation that the girls experience. Predators tell these young girls that they are "in love" and that someday they will be married and have lots of nice things. However, when the victim is completely under his control, things turn ugly.
Demands are made to the girl to pay back what she owes him. That means all the lavish restaurants, the drugs and any expense incurred during their relationship has to be paid back.
The predator will force/coerce the victim to service other men sexually to pay back her debts. Often the young girl suffers in silence because at this point, she is isolated and her relationship with her parents and her siblings is broken.
At this point, the perpetrator has her completely under his control. The violence and threats are prevalent. The predator will threaten their victims that if she tries to run or get help, he will hurt her family. The predator will take the girl's identification, monitor her phone and control her money. The girl is trapped. This is how the majority of the victims are conditioned.
Preventative Steps Parents Can Take:
Education is our greatest weapon. Make sure your child is educated and aware of how human traffickers work. She will protect herself against being lured.
And finally hope and pray that your child is safe and never has to experience the horrors of sex trafficking.
Article published on December 6, 2015