Hard Conversations, Pt. 1: "They've had potential abusers contact them over their school accounts"
The birds-and-the-bees conversation is still awkward and uncomfortable for parents, so the idea that you should start when kids are young talking to them about things like sex trafficking can seem unthinkable.
After all, aren't parents supposed to make kids feel safe? And sex trafficking doesn't happen around here anyway, right? Plus my kids are way too young to have that conversation.
PAVSA's Carly Hiti, and Kylee Pass and Tyra Jaramillo of First Witness would beg to differ.
They know traffickers target kids of all ages, thanks in part to the internet. But they'd like to put a metaphorical arm around your shoulders, give you a squeeze, and let you know that not only are there are age-appropriate ways to talk with kids about being safe and smart online, there are lots of resources available to help you out.
Carly, Kylee and Tyra are hosting a series of online presentations for caregivers and parents called Youth & Internet Safety/Trafficking & Exploitation: How to Have the Conversation and it's a lot more encouraging, in terms of what we can teach youngsters, than it might seem.
But perhaps the best place to start is the uncomfortable truth that traffickers have way more access to our kids than we'd ever dreamed of.
Here's Carly Hiti.
The Facebook page Duluth MN Trafficking Awareness has tips on how to talk to youth about internet safety, and the following organizations are also available as resources:
- Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA) 24/7 Helpline: (218) 726-1931
- Life House Youth Center (218) 722-7431
- First Witness Child Advocacy Center (218) 727-8353
- American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) (218) 722-7225
- Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA) in Superior, WI 24/7 Helpline: 800-649-2921