Have you ever met a cute and charming guy at the mall or at a football game, or found yourself answering a text from someone you randomly met–and suddenly got “weird” vibes? If so, it is very possible you were targeted for human trafficking. Being a teen, I know how easy it is to say “It will never happen to me,” but if you are a young female, it is extremely important to be aware of your surroundings. This does not mean you need to live in fear. As long as you educate yourself and take the necessary precautions, you should be safe from sketchy strangers (especially the ones you would never expect, like the good-looking ones.) Be aware of your surroundings and follow basic safety tips. Especially at night, check the back seat, under the car and scan the area for any suspicious activity. It’s like the old saying goes.. “It’s better to be safe than sorry!”
Human trafficking is growing and changing due to the advancements of technology, in particular, social media. It takes less than a minute to create a fake Facebook page and lure a young, vulnerable girl. This is why it is essential that young people are using the Internet and social media in a safe way. Turn your location services OFF, put your profile on PRIVATE, and do not accept friend requests or replying to messages unless you personally know the person. Do not add people you met at the mall for five minutes. Even if you don’t think you post very often, the few things you have posted can reveal a lot about you as a person. These little pieces of information are perfect for a trafficker to discover where you live, the type of people you associate with, your goals and dreams in life… Everything they need to lure you in as their slave. It’s okay to use social media, just do it in a safe way. Parents also need to be knowledgeable about who their children talk with online and on social media.
Girls Above Society stresses the necessity of cultivating self-esteem as a young teenager. Being confident gives the ability to not rely on others for self-validation. Unfortunately, not all girls are blessed with a strong support system, so it is important that we as individuals help to instill confidence and empower the lives of teenage girls. We all have a young girl in their lives, whether it’s your friend, daughter, or niece… Take the time out of your day to educate her and make her feel worthy so that we, as a society, can limit the predators’ ability to engage in trafficking.
More and more traffickers are young and charming guys that know exactly what to say in order to make a girl fall in love with him. Many times these traffickers take the time to get very close by becoming a boyfriend. Always make sure you meet your child’s boyfriend, and if you sense something strange or suspect odd behavior, be sure to investigate and TELL HER. You might be the bad guy at first, but by planting the seed of “Maybe he’s not the best guy,” and by providing specific examples of shady behavior, you are teaching her what to look for in a man. These simple lessons will prevent her from being so easily manipulated.
Exploitations of a victim’s shame or low self-esteem is one of the biggest strategies traffickers will use to lure young girls to fall for their tricks. I cannot stress the idea of instilling confidence in girls starting at a very young age. Honestly, the younger they get this idea through their head, the better. Confidence will not only help to prevent themselves from being targeted by a trafficker, but will also serve as the foundation for a much more positive and happy lifestyle. Instead of relying on others for my happiness or self-worth I have always relied on myself.
Not everyone is born into a happy and functional family, and this is one of the main causes of girls becoming victims. If you or anyone you know is thinking of running away from home, is currently on the streets, or feels they may have been approached or are being stalked by a trafficker, PLEASE seek out your local organizations and shelters for help. There is no shame in needing assistance and a simple call for help can save a life.
Be Confident. Be Educated. STAY SAFE!
Learn more at Lauren Galley’s Houston Family Magazine article: TEEN TAKE: Human Trafficking Lesson for Teens and Parents.