Today, July 30, is recognized as World Day against Child trafficking. This day acknowledges that we have a world problem.
Several years ago, traveling to Puerto Rico, we witness the signage posted everywhere in the airport how “Child Trafficking is Illegal.” My first thought was, “Puerto Rico has a real problem with child trafficking.”
My kids were all under seven, and they had some questions, too, as they observed these photos everywhere. I told them we would talk later and I changed the subject.
Fast forward to today, after working with hundreds of children in the foster system, it’s an all-too-prevalent problem everywhere. In fact, child trafficking is tied for second most profitable criminal enterprise! Abusive Dads, Mom’s boyfriends, and missing children worldwide give awareness to the massive problem of trafficking children. My eyes are open, and now I listen and encourage kids and teens who were in this muddle. Some of these kids carry on, and some return home and do not survive.
With all the volunteering to provide excellent local farm fresh, organic food, we have huge success in improving health. But, it would be irresponsible not to share a bit of what we know.
Many children are in vulnerable positions, but awareness and education can completely change a situation. Because of this, I discuss safety and encouragement with my children and the foster children I see regularly. Some children feel troubled and guilty for what was done to them, and some turn off their emotions entirely.
The real food certainly helps heal the gut and the mind, which is my successful philanthropic work. But, it doesn’t take away the wrongful acts. Therefore, I wanted to share an action list that we discuss with our children to protect them and hopefully equip them to protect others.
Awareness List to Prevent Child Trafficking
- No one should touch your privates (only diaper change and wipes, Doctor only for check-up and we explain that in detail)
- Scream if an adult touches you inappropriately
- Honesty is paramount
- You will change someone’s life by holding them accountable
- Someone’s life can also be destroyed if you lie about these matters (I’ve known this to happen with children in the system)
- There are some really bad people out there, that’s why you have Mommy / Daddy / Grandma. Before you take anything from anyone you run and ask us. Let’s practice until you understand to run away and yell for mommy and daddy;
- sit in a car and say, “want to see my puppy?’
- walk by and smile, “would you like some candy?”
- approach your child, “you look just like my daughter, will you come help me find a toy for her?”
- Parents support children; to keep them safe, provide food, shelter, and sound guidance
- Children do not support a parent /parents (except when elderly)
- It is not a child’s fault if an adult misbehaves in words or actions
- Each child MUST know how incredibly precious, and beautiful they are;
- we must tell our children, so they don’t seek praise from a predator
- Always stay with your safe friends or your safe family members,
- Groups of trusted friends and family give a lot of protection
- If you feel uncomfortable, that is your warning sign to leave the area or call for help
- Each of us will be accountable for our actions, all things wrong will be made right
Many of the kids in the foster system were sexually abused by their biological parents or friends. It is a big reason the child is removed and brought into the system.
Although qualified therapists can give a whole bunch of useful therapeutic information; I find the lack of parental discussion critical.
Today, there was a civil protest march for World Day against Child Trafficking, and I couldn’t participate. But I want to do my part and share a bit of my experience working with foster children, caseworkers, and more because I hope for every child to be prepared, and to prevent, and be aware of the possibility. Education is empowerment.
During this strange season upon us, where everyone is wearing a mask, it is very hard to identify a missing child. Please be aware that there is a very high increase in child trafficking right now – we cannot keep our heads in the sand with this perversity among us.
I have found in my volunteer work that sometimes the most simple actions make the most significant impact.