Safety Tips For Parents
A Checklist: Understanding The Dangers, Knowing What To Look For, And A General Awareness Of The Sex Trafficking Situation Is A Key Aspect OF Protecting Children And Family
Modern Times Magazine
May 5, 2014 — The abduction and trafficking demographic for children and teens is under-reported and the general public is unaware of the dangers of predators both online and in public, according to Marilyn Parker, the chief executive of International Defensive Training Systems, which is partnered with the Phoenix Dream Center in support of Mayor Stanton‘s Super Bowl XLIX Sex Trafficking Task Force.
“There are many issues, and in regards to resources for parents it is very limited; even with the information that is out there young children and teens seldom listen to their parents,” Parker said. “However IDTS has had great responses from parents of children/teens who have come through our classes. Our systems are educationally, verbally, and physically age-specific, and deal at their level of understanding, and the information is not coming from mom and dad.”
Parker provided a few checklists, as a good starting point for parents to learn more about the dangers of sex trafficking and how to avoid them:
In the “Whisper Areas” of Internet chat rooms, online predators do the following:
- Find kids through social networking, blogs, chat rooms, instant messaging, e-mail, discussion boards, and other websites.
- Predators target children and teens who have low self esteem, family issues, and they will sympathize with them to build trust, sharing secrets. Once that trust is built they seduce their targets through attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts.
- Know the latest music and hobbies likely to interest kids.
- Try to ease young people's inhibitions by gradually introducing sexual content into their conversations or by showing them sexually explicit material.
How can parents minimize the risk of a child becoming a victim?
- Talk to your kids about sexual predators and potential online dangers.
- Use family safety settings that are built into Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista operating systems.
- Follow age limits on social networking websites. Most social networking sites require that users be age 13 and over. If your children are under the recommended age for these sites, do not let them use them.
- Young children should not use chat rooms — the dangers are too great. As children get older, direct them towards well-monitored kids' chat rooms. Encourage even your teens to use monitored chat rooms.
- If your children take part in chat rooms, make sure you know which ones they visit and with whom they talk. Monitor the chat areas yourself to see what kind of conversations take place.
- Instruct your children to never leave the chat room's public area. Many chat rooms offer private areas where users can have one-on-one chats with other users, and chat monitors can't read these conversations. These are often referred to as "whisper" areas.
- Keep the Internet-connected computer in a common area of the house, never in a child's bedroom. It is much more difficult for a predator to establish a relationship with your child if the computer screen is easily visible. Even when the computer is in a public area of your home, sit with your child when they are online.
- When your children are young, they should share the family e-mail address rather than have their own email accounts. As they get older, you can ask your Internet Service Provider to set up a separate e-mail address, but your children's mail can still reside in your account.
- Tell your children to never respond to instant messaging or e-mails from strangers. If your children use computers in places outside your supervision, such as a public library, school, or friends' homes, find out what computer safeguards are used.
- If all precautions fail and your kids do meet an online predator, don't blame them. The offender always bears full responsibility. Take decisive action to stop your child from any further contact with this person.
There are a number of precautions that kids can take, including:
- Never downloading images from an unknown source. They could be sexually explicit.
- Choosing a gender-neutral screen name that doesn't contain sexually suggestive words or reveal personal information.
- Never revealing personal information about themselves (including age and gender) or information about their family to anyone online and not filling out online personal profiles.
- Stopping any e-mail communication, instant messaging conversations, or chats if anyone starts to ask questions that are too personal or sexually suggestive.
What can you do if your child is being targeted?
- If your child receives sexually explicit photos from an online correspondent, or if she or he is solicited sexually in e-mail, instant messaging, or some other way online, contact your local police. Save any documentation including e-mail addresses, website addresses, and chat logs to share with the police.
- Check your computer for pornographic files or any type of sexual communication—these are often warning signs.
- Monitor your child's access to all live electronic communications, such as chat rooms, instant messaging, and e-mail.
Malls and Parks
- Malls are the hunting grounds for predators, the approach is subtle, male or female, posing as modeling agents, Disney agents, etc. Parents should NEVER leave their children alone ANYWHERE!! We go to work every day, so do predators, who are on the HUNT!!
- They are charming, usually good looking and can disarm any guard that the victim may put up, easily and quickly enabling the victim to be removed to a secondary location.
Identifying victims of human trafficking
- Failure to make eye contact, head down
- Appears scared or withdrawn
- Has older "boyfriend"
- Doesn't attend school
- Shows signs of hunger
- Difficulty providing coherent or consistent stories
- Travels out of town often
- “Buries” unexplained and questionable activities
- Loss of identifying personal or institutional documentation, e.g. no driver license or ID
Also, it is important to remember that sex trafficking also occurs among a cloud of other negative situations, such as drug abuse, and early detection and parental awareness about substance abuse is critical to protecting children and families.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is offering a free five-week seminar (May 7, 14, 21, 28 and June 4) on Substance Abuse Prevention, in Mesa at the Main Library campus’ Saguaro Room, 64 E. First Street, 10 a.m. to noon. For more information and to register, visit http://events.mesalibrary.org/evanced/
The program series is also offered at Mesa’s Red Mountain Library on Thursdays, May 8 to June 5, 5:30 to 7 p.m. To register for the Red Mountain series, visit http://events.mesalibrary.org/evanced/
The content of the seminar is specialized for those who play an active role in parenting children. Through these workshops, parents and caregivers will learn skills on how to talk to their kids about drugs and alcohol, the importance of setting guidelines for their children and monitoring those guidelines, and how to control and express anger constructively within the family.
Registration for the seminars is required, and limited to 22 individuals. For additional information telephone the Mesa library at 480-644-3100 or the Arizona Attorney Generals Office at 602-542-2123.
Access to the Internet and social networking sites have increased our children’s ability to be exposed to negative influences such as drugs and alcohol. A 2011 study conducted by the national Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) found that 70 percent of kids/teens between 12 and 17 report spending time on social networking sites in a typical day.
Partnered with the Arizona Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families, the Arizona Attorney Generals Office is working collaborating to combat the ongoing issue of prescription medication and illegal substance abuse in our communities. For additional resources about statewide efforts to combat substance abuse visit http://www.drugfreeaz.org/.
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