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2024 Preparedness - Week 17: Calendar Week 16

Week 16, April 22nd



This is going to be a difficult week as we deal with a serious subject, human trafficking. Trafficking is, unfortunately growing and we need to address it to truly prepare our families.

Today discuss the following information with adults and older teens.


Every year millions of people are exploited within and across borders. It is estimated that 25 million people are subjected to human sex trafficking and forced labor, which is responsible for an estimated $150 billion annually in profits. Many victims are exploited for commercial sex, adults and children, boys as well as girls. Victims are often forced to work in factories, on farms, in mines, and private homes, for little or no pay.


In 2018 the United States, along with Mexico and the Philippines, was ranked one of the world's worst places for human trafficking. In the U.S. there is no official number of human trafficking victims, but estimates place it in the hundreds of thousands. Over 150 reports involving human trafficking are reported every day.


The most human trafficking cases have been reported in California, Texas, and Florida, according to the national hotline. Every state in the United States has reports of human trafficking. It is estimated that between 18,000 and 20,000 victims are trafficked into the United States every year. This number has increased with open borders.


Children, both male as well as female are trafficked. The majority are girls however there is a high demand for boys, gender-nonconforming and transgender children.


Most often, traffickers and buyers are middle-aged men of every race, socioeconomic background, profession, and even religion. Traffickers do not look like the creepy, reclusive predators or the handsome successful men or women we see in movies. They look like our neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers.


Some child trafficking victims live with their parents or guardians, attend school, are appropriately dressed, and act like any other children their age. Often, victims cannot be identified by sight. In active federal cases of sex trafficking in 2019, only 5.3% of cases involved cages, locked rooms, or barred windows. Most victims are groomed and held captive through psychological abuse, and control.


Myth: Children and adults are trafficked by being snatched off the street.

Fact: Most victims have not been trafficked as a result of being randomly kidnapped by someone they have never met. Victims are most often trafficked by a family member, friend or by someone they met online.


Myth: Trafficking means smuggling people across borders.

Fact: Many trafficking cases take place within communities and with no movement across borders. Larger operations may traffic across a border to places where victims do not speak the language and cannot ask for help.




Learn a little more today.

Trafficking begins with grooming. Grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with someone for the purposes of exploitation. Grooming makes a child dependent on their trafficker and makes it possible for a trafficker to manipulate a victim into cooperating. This makes it less likely the victim will leave the trafficker or that they will disclose what is happening.


Grooming may be by a family member or a friend. In fact, in 2017, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) estimated that 41 percent of child trafficking experiences are facilitated by family members and/or caregivers making it easy to groom the victim.


Grooming easily takes place online.  According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, it only takes 8 days from the time a child meets a trafficker online to when they meet in person. The grooming process is incredibly fast.


Traffickers identify victims’ vulnerabilities and needs and respond to those needs with gifts, financial support, emotional support, and/or the promise of love. Traffickers may often pass as a romantic partner to victims and even to friends and family. Consider what vulnerabilities may look like. Does a child or anyone you know fit any off these profiles, lonely, few friends, experienced a recent change in home life such as a divorce, victim of bullying, financially strapped (kids may want money for a car or concert), feeling no one understands them, feeling they are not pretty or handsome enough, not talented like other family or friends, homelessness, family drug abuse, mental illness either themselves or a family member. We all have vulnerabilities so we must try to identify what those are in the people we love. Help your children think about their friends and what vulnerabilities they may have. Which ones may your children identify in themselves?


Traffickers isolate their victims from friends and family in order to control the situation without interference from concerned people in the child’s life. They do this by making victims dependent on them for financial needs and emotional support. They convince those being trafficked that their parents just don’t understand them, that friends are not really friends and can’t be counted on to keep confidences.


Traffickers gain information and materials from victims that can be used to blackmail them, such as compromising photos, proof of drug use or immigration status.


Once a victim has been manipulated, they are controlled through threats to their family and friends safety, blackmail of themselves or family, getting victims hooked on drugs, forced criminal activities so they now have more blackmail leverage and of course forced sexual activity so victims feel shame and worthless.


Children and teens and even adults can be groomed online using dating apps, and community games where you become involved with strangers and social media.



Choose at least two of these and act on them now.

1.     Spend quality time together and check in often. Many victims of trafficking are vulnerable because they feel lonely, depressed and isolated. Developing relationships children can count on helps to reduce a child’s vulnerability. One of the saddest songs I have ever heard is “Cats in the Cradle”. Too often this is the pattern with parents and children. If you know of a child experiencing this, embrace them and include them in your life.


He came to the world in the usual way

But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay

You know we'll have a good time then”

He learned to walk while I was away

And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it………

"When you comin' home, Dad?"

"I don't know when

But we'll get together then

You know we'll have a good time then"……


My son turned ten just the other day

He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, c'mon let's play

Can you teach me to throw?"

I said, "Not today I got a lot to do.

You know we'll have a good time then”


2.     Know what your children are doing when they are on the internet. Don’t assume they are mature enough to protect themselves. Children and even teens often have no awareness of how vulnerable they are or even what those vulnerabilities may be. Do not allow children to be online when they are out of your site. If they are in bedrooms create a rule that the door is always open. Choose a place outside of bedrooms where devices are placed at bedtime. When children are staying with grandparents be sure they understand and maintain your rules. Be sure babysitters maintain the rules as well.



A few more parental, or grandparent things to do. Grandparents can play a huge role in preventing trafficking


1.     Talk to children early and often about healthy relationships and healthy sexual development. Be sure children understand nothing is off limits for you to discuss. Make sure they know if they make a mistake there may be consequences, but the consequences will be much worse if they lie and keep things from you. Children need to understand they will always have your love and support and that they can always come to you.


2.     Listen.  Really listen, turn off all distractions and help your child understand you are completely focused on them. Say things like:” I hear you saying that….” Or “I understand you are feeling….” Or “ Are you saying that….” Practice listening today at dinner.


3.     Use your own critical thinking skills, and do not accept situations at face value. Keep investigating and asking questions.


4.     Trust the spirit. Trust those prompting that say something isn’t right. If you have a feeling that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.


Teach online safety. Traffickers are on every popular app children and teens use and love. Know exactly what your child is doing online and give them guidelines for what types of information are okay and not okay to post.

  • Teach them to interact only with friends and family they know and not friends of friends or strangers.

  • Teach them who to block.

  • Be sure they know how to turn off location services when posting on social media and that they do it.

  • Photos that show what school they go to, what neighborhood they live in, where they shop should never be posted.

  • Never post photos of vacations while you are on vacation.

  • Be sure they understand not to post photos of themselves in swimwear, underwear, in the bath or naked.

  • Consider whether to use their name online or to create an online persona.

  • Always make sure social media accounts are private and grab their devices unexpectedly and check their online activity and texting.



Talk to your children by playing “What would you do if…” We have done this before with disaster situations but now it’s time to ask questions involving subjects that lead to trafficking. What if someone showed you porn? What if a friend offered you drugs? (traffickers often get kids hooked first) What would you do if someone you met online wanted to meet you? What if someone asked for your address?

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