So you watched the Sound of Freedom? Now what? The knee-jerk reaction is to hover over your kids. But if your kids live in a stable household in a decent neighborhood, they are not the ones most at risk (if you control their social media interactions). The likelihood that your kid will be kidnapped while riding their bike to become a trafficking victim is actually pretty low. So I wanted to share a few tips on what you can actually do to prevent human trafficking and have a more direct effect on this evil practice.
Reject Pornography in Every Form
Pornography and human trafficking are interlinked. One feeds the other. We cannot prevent human trafficking if we do not address the issue of pornography.
The FBI in 2021 prosecuted a case where a young woman, whose parents thought she was a porn star, was the victim of human trafficking. Her parents had no idea and thought she had chosen that lifestyle for easy money. The truth was a lot more difficult to swallow. Their young daughter had been lured into a trafficking ring. She was raped over and over until she pretended to “like it” for the videos. The videos were then released. You can find her powerful testimony on YouTube.Pornography and human trafficking are interlinked. One feeds the other. We cannot prevent human trafficking if we do not address the issue of pornography. Click To Tweet
Her testimony and others like hers reveal that there is no way to tell what videos are legitimately made with women who willingly, without coercion, choose to subject themselves to that industry. Even some of the ones who “choose” it are usually stuck between a stone and a hard place. If you are addicted to pornography (and many women are along with men), this is a good reason to stop and seek help. Furthermore, pornography many times creates pedophiles. Pornography addiction can escalate from “simple porn” to hard-core porn involving children.
And pornography is not limited to websites with the letters XXX. There are many popular shows today that many Christians watch with explicit sexual scenes. Is there really a difference between sex scenes in some of these shows and porn?
We have been lulled into thinking because it does not have the label PORN that it is okay. We may also justify it by thinking these women do it by choice, but most of these young actresses are pressured to do so in order to make it in the industry. Those scenes can entice anyone vulnerable to porn addiction to further seek out more porn. Don’t feed that industry, don’t feed that beast. Demand entertainment without it. The Sound of Freedom proved that you can make a powerful movie that insinuates a sexual act happened without actually ever showing it.
Identify and Protect the Vulnerable
The most at-risk children for human trafficking in affluent countries like the US are kids without a strong social net like foster children, runaways, and kids from broken homes. These are children who spend too much time without parental oversight and who do not have a strong network of adults that can advocate for them.
So become an advocate. Mentor a child. There are many organizations that are seeking strong mentors and volunteers to speak into the lives of at-risk youth. Volunteer in one of those organizations. Intentional involvement in the lives of at-risk youth can be a great step to prevent human trafficking.
You can also pay attention to kids in your kids’ schools. Are there kids who are withdrawn? Don’t have a lot of friends? Encourage your kids to invite them over. Let them take part in your family. It was a pastor and his wife who were instrumental in my having a bright future as opposed to becoming yet another statistic. What did they do? They opened their home and made me feel like part of their family.
Demand Stricter Border Control to Prevent Human Trafficking
Recently, in what is considered to be an affluent neighborhood in Illinois, several people in a sex trafficking ring were arrested. It was part of a larger trafficking network throughout the Chicago area. St Charles is known for its boutique stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. It is even the home of two well-known actors. If you walk the idyllic streets of St Charles you would never think that seven women from Latin America had been brought here exclusively to work in a brothel in an apartment building.
How did they get here? The news article does not go into detail, but as a Latina with huge connections to the migrant community, I can pretty much guarantee they were brought here illegally. Lax border policy invites criminal activity of all kinds, the most egregious in my mind, is the trafficking of people.
I have incredible compassion for individuals that have come to the United States illegally, most with the intent of just finding a job and sending money back home. When you have experienced the hopelessness that many Latin Americans experience in their own country, if you have half a heart, you feel nothing but compassion. But good intentions can often have awful consequences.
Strict border policies may seem cruel on the surface to many who are just seeking a better life, but it protects the most vulnerable against trafficking (not to mention all the other risks migrants face trying to cross the border). The US is one of the primary consumers of sex worldwide and this is why traffickers prey on migrants trying to get to the US. That is why one of the best ways to fight human trafficking is to have strict border controls.
Be Alert To The Potential Signs of Trafficking
This can become especially true when traveling. Pay attention at rest stops, airports, or any transit points. Kids or women being moved from one location to another will typically go through these key nodes.
But also pay attention to what is happening in your neighborhood, no matter how affluent. Is someone you know married appear to have a controlling spouse or parent? Is a kid that was once talkative and joyful become withdrawn and sullen? Most sex abuse cases are actually perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Boyfriends will traffic girlfriends. Husbands will traffick their wives. Mothers will traffick their kids. As sick as that is, it happens more often than we would like to think.
Although I can’t remember where I heard this story, it plagues my heart to this day. A young tween girl in a residential neighborhood got lured into sex trafficking by a teenager. The tween spent a lot of time alone because her caregiver worked and she had no one else to watch her. The teen predator kept control of the tween through threats and shame kept the tween silent. For months, if not years, the caregiver was clueless even though the tween would come home every day. Sex crimes can produce strong psychological strongholds that can sometimes even go over the heads of loved ones.
All I can say is be nosy (in a polite, loving way). Get to know those around you. Pay attention to what is happening around you. If you don’t discover a trafficking victim, I will guarantee you will at the very least find a need you can meet in a different way.
Monitor Social Media Usage and Online Presence
The biggest risk for our kids, kids from stable homes with a strong social net, is actually from social media and online presence. Men enter chat rooms pretending to be kids or teens to gain the child’s trust. That is why it is important to set up parental controls on electronic devices and monitor social media use.
I don’t completely ban social media use for my teen, but I certainly don’t allow it for my 11-year-old. We chose to allow our teen to have it as a way to walk alongside her and help her learn responsible social media use. At first, it was very limited use and with time we have made more allowances. It is a work in progress, I won’t lie. However, we have lots of conversations and she is very aware of the dangers of social media and online interactions.
We had conversations about predators even before she had a phone. And because of those conversations, one of the first texts she got on her phone was from a wrong number. Instead of engaging in the text, she notified me and I responded for her. That is what we want our kids to do, to identify when something does not seem right and ask for our help instead of being lured to meet a stranger they thought was just another kid.
Volunteer or Donate to Organizations That Fight Human Trafficking
Not all of us can be Tim Ballards. We cannot all recruit former special forces operators, fly to a poor country and rescue children. However, we can support organizations that do. There are organizations that are directly involved in the saving of kids and there are also those who provide after-care. To continue the work they do, they need financial support along with our spiritual support.
Fruitfully Living has been committed to providing 50% of the profits from any online sales to various Christian ministries. Three of those organizations are committed to battling human trafficking and/or providing care to trafficking victims. We donated to Tim Ballard’s organization Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) years before the movie Sound of Freedom was released. We also support Women at Risk International (WAR) and International Justice Mission (IJM). There are many others and you will also find many who work locally. It is just a matter of finding them and picking one (or two).
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”Luke 17:2
Other articles about protecting kids from sexual exploitation that may interest you……