Written by Keri Gee Semmelman, The Raise Foundation
So what can you, whether or not you have children of your own, do to help?
- Educate and talk about the CSEC crisis with your family, friends, and colleagues. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to start if you haven’t already.
- Pay attention to the children around you and take notice of whom they are interacting with. If all of a sudden they are spending time with a lot of new people and are not readily sharing information about those people that is worth exploring more.
- If you are a parent/guardian, Detective Forgash encourages you to provide your children with, “…well-intentioned, kind, caring attention.” He adds, “If they don’t get it from you, they may very well look elsewhere for it.”
- Explain to your children why posting personal details about themselves online can be very dangerous.
- If you see a child (even a very young child) walking alone during the day when they should be in school or even late at night, experts say it is best not to approach the child as it may put them (and you) in even more danger as their perpetrator may be nearby. Instead call your local police department immediately.
- Validate children. Remember that whatever is happening right now in their life is the biggest deal (e.g., a fight with a best friend, failing a grade in class, being on the receiving end of drama and bullying online). Heater says, “We adults are so quick to downplay because of our own perspective and our busy lives. Realize their lives are being shaken up in that moment. Validate it. Don’t reason it away. Don’t dismiss with, “Oh it will be okay tomorrow.” Instead, help them work through it. Then help them see what they walked through. This can help them understand how to work through issues going forward.”
- Praise the teachers, coaches, caregivers you know who are also dedicating their lives to the well-being of children. Sometimes, these role models are the ones giving children the much needed attention they hunger for and deserve.
- Should you or any children you know see or hear anything that causes you/them to think human trafficking may be going on – anything suspicious, report it! Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or your local police department. Your call will be routed to the county you are making the call from.
- Help CSEC victims by donating food, clothes, and/or funds. Go to: https://wearewayfinders.org. They accept tangible goods and funds to provide clients with assistance that is very much needed that isn’t covered in other ways.
- Attend the Junior League’s next Human Trafficking Roundtable in May 2018.
- Go to betheoneoc.com to learn more how you can help. Please “Be The One” to Help Out.
Kids are under so much more stress and pressure than ever before. So remember to be there…in a way they need us to be there not the way that is most convenient for us to be there.