This is a tough subject. Today at MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) our speaker talked about sex trafficking and his own personal sexual abuse he endured as a child. It was awful what he went through. He lumped sex trafficking and sexual abuse into the same category in his talk, so I thought I would share about this subject. My first job out of college as a counselor was that of a Sexual Assault Counselor. That was my official job title and I was hired by the state to cover an entire county of victims (both adults and children) in Northern Wisconsin. It was not a fun job. The stories I heard there still haunt me today. There is evil in this world. Unfortunately, its not the stranger you are worried about abducting your children that you should be most concerned about. Most of the evil is right in front of us hiding in sheep’s clothing. Meaning, most sexual predators, by majority statistics, are people that the family actually knew and trusted.
Therefore, we need to be vigilant as parents to protect our children and recognize how an abuser “grooms” their victims. The website “Darkness to Light” is a great resource for information on this subject. They outline 5 ways we can protect our kids from sexual abuse. The five steps and statistics below come from their website, along with the screen shots of great, valuable information every parent should read and know.
1. Know the facts: https://www.d2l.org/education/5-steps/step-1/ Over 90% of sexual abuse cases happen with someone the family knows. This is why we need to be more protective about letting our kids go to homes of other families and especially sleep overs. Am I saying ban these activities all together? No, but I want you to be aware that them being abducted at the mall is not a likely scenario to ever happen compared to the likelihood of them being abused by someone you already know and trust. Statistically, the abuse is likely to happen in either your home or their perpetrator’s home. This is means its not some dark alleyway that you have in your mind because of all the movies you have watched that have told us this is so prevalent. Over 90% of the people know their perpetrator, most have a trusted relationship with the person, and most times it happens right in a home! This should affect our decision making when it comes to protecting our children and where they go without our supervision.
2. Minimize Opportunity: https://www.d2l.org/education/5-steps/step-2/
Start thinking about this topic seriously. Who has access to your child in a one-on-one situation right now?
3. Talk About It: https://www.d2l.org/education/5-steps/step-3/
4. Recognize the Signs of Abuse: https://www.d2l.org/education/5-steps/step-4/
It is often difficult to recognize abuse because there isn’t a clear cut profile for behavior of an abused child. However, one of the best ways parents can recognize the signs of abuse is to LISTEN AND RESPOND WHEN THEIR CHILD OR ANOTHER CHILD TELLS THEM THEY HAVE BEEN ABUSED. Statistically false reporting only represents about 5% of all sexual abuse allegations. Kids often tell an adult about the abuse and far too often the person does not do anything about the information they have received. Not doing something can keep the abuse going. It is also very damaging to a child when they have told someone about their abuse and the person doesn’t believe them or they do nothing about the abuse.
5. React Responsibly: https://www.d2l.org/education/5-steps/step-4/
Notify proper authorities, don’t react in a way that shames the child, and stay calm. There are some other very useful tips on the link above. If a child comes to you with information that they were abused, it is your job as the adult to get proper help for the child.
Grooming is what a sexual abuser does to win favor with the child and even the family. It is their way of developing a relationship and gaining trust with the child, and often the family, so that they can in turn violate the child at the right opportunity. The National Center for Victims of Crimes has helpful information on their website and in the screen shot I am sharing below- http://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/grooming-dynamic-of-csa
Sex Trafficking and Kids
The scary truth is that yes there are millions of people, including children, who are sex trafficked every year. It is awful. It is a sad reflection of our society and even more so the state of families today. Why would I bring families into the discussion? Because most children who are sex trafficked come from very broken homes and have experienced a great deal of abuse before they ever got to their sex trafficked situation. I know almost every Mom is terrified that their child will be kidnapped and sold into sex slavery, but that is a rare travesty. Instead, sex trafficking starts in the home, with family, most often very broken and disturbed families where abuse is already prevalent. The AlterNet website provides some very helpful information on this subject with an article called “10 Surprising and Counterintuitive Facts about Child Sex Trafficking” and here is the link for this article with two excerpts below:
“While most of us are familiar with the conventional pimp portrayed in the media who preys upon and kidnaps children off the streets, in reality, this is not typically how children enter ‘the life’ of prostitution. In fact, the John Jay study revealed that most children are not ‘pimped’ in the traditional sense but instead recruited by familial procurers or friends known to them who do not manage their work but rather facilitate them by offering shelter or referring them to buyers in exchange for clients or a share of their earnings.”
“What’s more, between 70–90 percent of commercially sexually exploited children in the United States have been sexually abused prior to entering ‘the life’ and are runaways with a history of complex trauma that usually begins with a dysfunctional or neglectful family, as Procopiuo explains: “These kids enter the system for various types of reasons. But the underlying reasons are that they come from homes where they are subject to multiple traumas in their childhood, sexual abuse, substance abuse or domestic violence. In other scenarios, the youth is asked to leave because of gender identification,” he said.”