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Back to School: Staying Abreast of Safety Threats

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

This is the final safety article in the Back-to-School series which focused on providing safety tips for parents in 2023 and beyond. Even though new safety threats have arisen in this new global society connected by the internet that are real and potentially dangerous to the well-being of your children, there is no need to panic. There’s always someone and/or something posing a safety threat. In my generation it was the onset of a new drug culture. Therefore, continue to do what parents have done for generations – stay abreast and take the necessary precautions by educating you and your child about any new safety threats.

We are concluding this segment of the series on “grooming and recruitment.” Understanding that a trafficker is not always the scary person hiding in the shadows. They can be male or female, friends, family or your child’s peer. Knowing what this grooming and recruitment process can look like will help you.

In the grooming process the predator will oftentimes make an emotional connection. This allows a pimp to manipulate and control them better in the future. There is no single form of force, fraud or coercion used by predators. Each trafficker has their own style to gain the necessary power and control required to manipulate an individual into doing what they want.

  • 85 percent of victims reported developing a close relationship with their trafficker.

With recruitment, a predator looks for a vulnerability within a victim that can be exploited. This can occur either in-person or online. A predator that assesses and recruits potential victims in-person will hang out often at youth hang outs such as schools, malls, eateries, parks, sporting events, etc. They are looking for vulnerabilities within the young person that are there. A common one is low self-esteem; predators can easily spot these traits by simply watching how a young girl reacts when he calls her beautiful. If she lowers her head or shows signs of insecurity, she is potentially a good target.

  • The number one place predators find their victims is on social media.

The amount of information we freely offer to the world about ourselves makes it easier for traffickers to find their next victim without ever leaving the couch. Traffickers troll social media sites, and gaming apps. A simple statement as “my parents are the world’s worst” or “I’m so over school and these people here” allows the predator to connect, relate and offer a solution to the victim. They will send out hundreds of messages a day like “wow you are beautiful” or “I have a problem. Can you help me?” hoping to get some traction. This is why instilling confidence in your child can help protect them from being recruited.

Traffickers will often use false promises of love to lure their victims. Setting a high standard of what love is, and an example of how you should give and receive love will help shape your child’s self-image and expectation of love. Teach them how to distinguish between a false love and the real thing.

Exhibiting positive love toward your child will boost their self-confidence which makes them less vulnerable to predators. Teach them to respond to everyone with a good “safety eye.”

These articles in the Back-to-School Safety Tips for Parents in 2023 and Beyond series are not meant to frighten you. They are meant to help educate you so you can share this knowledge with your child(ren) and with others so you can Keep an Eye on Safety this school year and beyond!