Recruitment & Control
The Internet reaches into most homes and schools - and is used by almost every child and teen through many different sites and apps. Traffickers are motivated experts at trolling social media and chat rooms seeking ways to "befriend" unsuspecting minors as a first step in grooming.
The average age of victims of trafficking in the US is 12 years old. Internet was most often the point of first contact.
Get Kids and Teens Informed
Age-appropriate training exists for children and teens in local schools, through local organizations and houses of worship.
Online and youth-friendly in-person programs are offered by Task Force Members and Community Partners.
Many programs are about getting children and teen involved in the message, for example:
KidSmartz from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children includes age-appropriate safety rules to children as young as preschool presented by children the same age. NCMEC also offers parents or caregivers a free Safety Central APP for storing important safety information about their children.
Local law enforcement departments often offer safety events for children or teens (or adults) for free. To find out what might be available near you, see here.
Also, national nonprofits offer programs for children and teens too, such as the Pinwheels for Prevention events started by Prevent Child Abuse America in which adults, teens and children gather to plant pinwheel gardens during National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Half-Hour Wake Up Call
Most people underestimate the insidious nature of recruitment and grooming via the internet. They take false comfort thinking that human trafficking happens in other countries, or other states, or other places.
Traffickers have access to every adult, teen and child who has access to an internet connection, social media or chat rooms, a computer or a mobile phone.
This sobering message should be a wake up call to adults who care for minors.
The hopeful news is that there are ways to protect minors.
Task Force Members and Community Partners are ready to speak to groups in neighborhoods, schools, professional organization or places of worship - all about safety measures for minors using the internet.
Take a half hour to watch a few videos that show just some of the ways traffickers recruit online.