Understanding sex trafficking can save our children

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Ranked as San Diego’s second underground economy, human sex trafficking is something nobody wants to talk about. I’m thankful that the San Diego District Attorney’s office and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are not afraid to broach this subject. And they have some good ideas in trying to stop this horrific crime that affects the children and young people of our communities. It is terrifying to know that this industry is so alive and prospering at the cost of our children.

Ranked as San Diego’s second underground economy, human sex trafficking is something nobody wants to talk about. I’m thankful that the San Diego District Attorney’s office and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are not afraid to broach this subject. And they have some good ideas in trying to stop this horrific crime that affects the children and young people of our communities. It is terrifying to know that this industry is so alive and prospering at the cost of our children. We do everything that we can to keep them safe, but we are a venerable community, especially with our close relationship with the border of Mexico.

This is nothing short of domestic terrorism and we have to go to war against these hideous predators to keep our children safe. In reading several articles, it seems that technology is working against us in this war, as many cases are the results of young children getting acquainted online with these sexual predators. Bridget Battistoni runs a blog “I Want Rest” and she gives sound advice on ways that we can help protect our children from such tragedy.

First she talks about setting a high standard of love within your own home. Teaching children at a young age by treating them the way you want their future spouses to treat them helps define their self-image, confidence and opinions of future relationships. In doing so, they are less likely to be lured in by strangers that offer no more than “empty promises or cheap gifts.” I found this profound yet so simple. It always begins with parenting, and a house full of love and family activity defines the future of children starting at a very young age.

Battistoni also states that it is vital to talk to your children about sexual abuse and sex trafficking. Although these are not subjects we as parents like to discuss with our children, especially our young ones just coming of age to even understand such complicated issues, it is vital that we bypass our own insecurity in speaking with our children and provide them with the truth. Why?

Because every two minutes someone in America is sexually assaulted, with one-third of the victims being between the ages of 12 and 17. These are scary numbers and they are climbing every year.

Speak to your children about the dangers of social media and keep a close eye on them when they reach the age where you allow them to engage through the Internet. They need to know the possible repercussions of accepting people they do not know and many children do not comprehend that being a “friend” on Facebook is not the same as the relationship that they have with real friends. Take charge of their social media practices and be active in setting up accounts, being able to log in to their accounts and see what they are doing. It seems invasive, and at a certain age it is, but when they are young and inexperienced, it is a must.

You must also watch them closely in their lives outside of social media. Young girls that come home with boyfriends or friends that are much older is a disaster waiting to happen any way that you look at it. If you see that they are acquiring items that you did not purchase and that they have no way of paying for, there is a problem.

Bottom line, communication with your children is the key to success in combating sex trafficking and the best way you can prepare them if the day comes and a stranger tries to lure them in either in person or online. These are not easy conversations to have, but it is worth overcoming the uneasiness and helps them understand the real truths out there that are waiting to hurt them. What makes this even more difficult is with the age of adolescent and pre-teen, their focus is on nothing more than themselves for the most part. They want to have many friends, be popular and think that we as parents are silly and overprotective. That is all right with me, because eventually they will understand the why. It makes a parent very uncool to put tight restrictions on them, but the best way to protect them is to be involved with their daily lives, find activities that keep them busy and let them know that the reasons for your actions are out of pure love.