Empowering our youth is vital when it comes to the fight against human trafficking. Anyone can be a victim, but those most vulnerable to sex trafficking are teenagers.
As informed adults, it’s important to not only talk about human trafficking with your teen but to keep the conversation ongoing.
It’s important to let your child know that:
– Sex trafficking is NEVER the victim’s fault
– It’s okay to ask for help and they can come to you at ANY time- even if they broke a rule or did something wrong.
It may not be an easy or comfortable subject to talk about, but talking about human trafficking with our teens is KEY. One household at a time, together we can affect the prevalence of human trafficking.
Here are 5 tips to keep the conversation open and ongoing, around the difficult subject of human trafficking in order to help our kids stay safe.
5 ways to Keep the Conversation Ongoing about Human Trafficking
Now that you’ve opened up the difficult subject of sex trafficking with your teen, it’s important to keep the dialogue ongoing. This way your child will know that the door remains open to tackling tough topics and they will feel able to come to you with any concerns.
Using these 5 suggestions as a guideline, you can empower your teen to talk openly about their feelings and trust their gut whenever faced with an unsafe situation.
You can’t be with your child 24/7, and as much as you may want to, you can’t protect them from everything.
By engaging in ongoing dialogue about human trafficking you’re equipping them to be streetwise and smart and more able to spot the warning signs before a human trafficking incident occurs.
1- Practice your Listening Skills
During conversations, it can be easy to just want to give a response and be ‘right’ instead of truly listening to what someone is sharing with you. If you find yourself crafting up the perfect response while someone else is speaking instead of being truly present in the conversation, you might need to work on your listening skills.
Here are a few tips to help improve your listening skills with your teen:
- Put down your phones or anything else that may distract you, and make eye contact to help you focus on what they are saying
- Don’t cut them off in mid-sentence.
- Try to understand their point of view. (Try asking: “Please elaborate” or “What do you mean by that” if you’re unclear on what they mean).
- Before giving an answer, or a solution to a problem, ask them what they think and see if they can come up with it themselves.
2- Be informed and clear
When it comes to sex trafficking, it’s important to know and communicate the facts- so you need to be informed yourself. Stay connected to the PCHT website and Instagram accounts for correct facts and statistics on human trafficking.
Going into the conversation with statistics on human trafficking, warning signs, and tactics of traffickers is key to tackling such a tough topic with your teen.
Taking a strong moral stand against this worldwide crime is also an important part of the conversation.
Here are a few tips to help you communicate clearly with your teen:
- Remind them of the facts and statistics regarding human trafficking.
- Remind them that no one is to blame but the trafficker.
- Remind them that you are ALWAYS there for them, no matter what, even if they made a mistake or ‘broke a rule’.
3- Know when to take a break
Sex trafficking is a dark subject. While it’s important to have the facts and talk about it with your teen, it’s also a good idea to take a break from the heavy conversation. Just like any topic, if you talk about it too much, it can lose its significance and we can become desensitized.
Here are a few signs it’s time to take a break from the conversation:
- Your teen goes silent when you bring up human trafficking.
- Your teen’s body language tenses up when you talk about human trafficking.
- Your teen tells you to stop talking about human trafficking.
4- Be consistent with your messaging/ role modeling in everyday life
As a parent do you embrace the importance of role modeling on an everyday basis?
Are you supportive and approachable and do you intentionally prioritize taking time to connect with your teen?
Do you cultivate a peaceful environment in your home where your kids can expect you to listen to them judgment-free?
For survivors of abuse, it’s important that they do not feel judged or blamed. And in order for a victim to heal, they must feel supported in a loving environment.
Here’s a few tips to help improve your everyday messaging:
- Do not blame or shame any victim
- Do not negatively discuss people with your child
- Do not participate in gossip or the pitting of individuals against another
5- Don’t forget to use open-ended questions
Using open-ended questions is the key to having healthy conversations. Instead of coming across as a know-it-all, which can cause a teen to shut down, open-ended questions help level the playing field.
Here are a few examples of open-ended questions:
- “Have you heard about human trafficking?” instead of: “Human trafficking is everywhere and you need to face it”
- “What do you think about sex traffickers?” as opposed to: “Sex traffickers are evil and going to hell”
- “Why do you think some people are targets of sex trafficking?” as opposed to: “What did she expect wearing those clothes and hanging out with those people”.
As reported, teens are the most at-risk age group to be recruited by sex traffickers, and teens with low self-esteem are at the highest risk of all.
When we know better, we do better. Applying these tips can help you connect and communicate with your teen and more importantly, equip them to be aware of the dangers and indicators of human trafficking.
Let’s be committed to empowering our youth against human trafficking and one household at a time, one conversation at a time, we can help reduce the risk of sex trafficking.