The New Slavery
Parents have a new adversary that seeks to sell our children into what's being called "The New Slavery" and it's more powerful than we might have imagined.
The abduction of over 200 girls from their boarding school in northern Nigeria sparked a worldwide debate about the kidnapping and sexual victimization of young women. While the fate of the girls still remains unknown, media reports speculate they may have joined the millions of women and children who have been forcibly sold into a new form of slavery—human sex trafficking. Although Nigeria is over 5,000 miles away, it's imperative that we do not dismiss these events as something that happens “over there.” Technology has linked the world together in previously unprecedented ways. While the method of abduction may be different, right here, in our country, in our neighborhoods, and possibly even in our own homes, there are online predators seeking new ways to lure our children into what's being called The New Slavery —Human Sex Trafficking.
Human sex trafficking has roots in prostitution, and is similar to the violent and manipulative tactics used by “pimps.” Human sex trafficking is defined as “commercial sex acts induced by force, fraud, or coercion or commercial sex acts in which the individual induced to perform commercial sex has not attained 18 years of age.”* Oftentimes, victims are relocated to unfamiliar or distant areas to make seeking assistance or escape more difficult. With revenues estimated in the billions of dollars, human sex trafficking has grown into the world’s third most profitable illegal enterprise—just behind drugs and illegal arms sales.
One reason for the explosive growth of human sex trafficking in the U.S. is the increased availability of child pornography on the web. During a PBS interview, Meredith Dank, a Senior Researcher at The Urban Institute stated, “there’s a urgency in the proliferation of child pornography, because in order for sex traffickers to get into more of these deeper membership communities, you have to produce your own child pornography.” Dank’s interview highlights the requirement for recruiters to build their reputation by getting top dollar for the sale of illicit images, thereby allowing them to join sex trafficking networks with the ultimate goal of luring children to a face-to-face encounter. Other, more brazen traffickers openly advertise abducted girls online, facilitating multiple illicit encounters each night. As parents, we cannot afford to remain naïve about the danger posed by online predators, nor can we prevent our children from using technology that has become essential to everyday life.
So what can we do to help protect our children (both girls AND boys) from human sex traffickers? Talk to them openly about sex and sexual predators. Help them to recognize the behaviors of sexual predators—in person and online. Tell them not to post sexually provocative photos and selfies and to NEVER post naked body parts. YES THIS INCLUDES YOUNG GIRLS AND BOYS! Not only are online predators seeking to victimize young children, law enforcement officials are now arresting anyone who distributes sexually explicit photos of children—that includes OTHER CHILDREN!
Keep access to all devices including phones, computers, tablets and the like. Review what is on your child’s computer and the internet sites they visit. If you don’t know how, ask a friend, coworker, relative, or other techie person. Pornography or any kind of sexual communication should be addressed immediately. Monitor their online usage particularly chat rooms, instant messages and e-mail.
1 - Should any of the following situations arise, via the Internet or on-line service, the FBI instructs us to contact their local field office and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:
1.) Your child or anyone in the household has received child pornography;
2.) Your child has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that your child is under 18 years of age;
3.) Your child has received sexually explicit images from someone that knows your child is under the age of 18.
2 - If one of these scenarios occurs, keep the computer turned off in order to preserve any evidence for future law enforcement use. Unless directed to do so by the law enforcement agency, you should not attempt to copy any of the images and/or text found on the computer.
Instruct your children:
Although monitoring your children’s online activities may seem overly protective or burdensome, it is worth it. Let your children know you love them, and as their parent you have the right and the responsibility to keep them safe. As we continue to keep the millions of victims of human sex trafficking in our thoughts and prayers, we need to do our part to educate our children and protect them from those who seek to cause them harm. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Content copyright 2017. SoLo Parenting Magazine. All rights reserved.
"I received my parental cyber-security wake-up call a few months ago. While looking for a text on his cell phone, I found out my seven-year-old son had been surfing porn sites." This from a conversation I had with a parent at one of my daughter's activities. Apparently, she was CLUELESS about her son’s extracurricular activities. She was shocked by what she found, and by the knowledge that the images she saw were not only freely available, but FREE for viewing by anyone, of any age, all over the internet. Would you say a bit naive for a 21st century mom? Sure. But how many of us truly know what our children are viewing, reading, or even writing on a daily basis? If your answer is, “I do!” then you too may be a bit naive. The internet has come a long way from the relative containment of chat rooms, and expanded into an infinite universe of technological possibilities. Children are able to create multiple accounts—the mom/dad-friendly account for your viewing pleasure, and those set aside solely for friends. Each child now has the ability to create their own personal worldwide reality show, complete with script, costars, photos, live video feeds, and commentary, and most parents are left off the cyber guest list. But let’s say we are not naive, and we try to open up a dialogue with our children about their mobile device viewing habits. How can we be certain they share the whole story and not the PG-13 version? The reality is—we probably can’t. So, how do we protect our kids from predators, cyber-sex and everything in between?
There are a few ways to make your children safer—but not completely safe—while using the internet or a mobile device. Going digital has inherent risks, and parents should be realistic about these risks before agreeing to allow their children to go digital. But the alternative—not allowing your children access to technology—is becoming increasingly unrealistic, and may even have long term consequences for your child’s educational readiness. So, what do we do?
Here are some basic rules to help secure your child's cell phone activity:
For help with the Privacy and Security features of your child's mobile device contact your Service Provider's Technical Support line or do a Google search by typing in the name of the device and privacy settings (e.g. iphone 5 privacy settings).
Content copyright 2017. SoLo Parenting Magazine. All rights reserved.
William Murphy is Founder and CEO of Venice Web Design, LLC an Internet Technology Solutions company providing web-related products and services to small-businesses and entrepreneurs. As a Business Analyst, William also helps companies establish requirements and get 'the right people in the room' in order to maximize their investment and ensure the overall success of projects and programs. He's an active mentor to local youth in the Southern Maryland community and serves as MC for numerous events. William's hobbies include playing golf and tennis, but his joy is spending time with his wife and 2 daughters.