I honestly think one - unlucky but happy ending experience may have helped me educate my kids about “bad” people. My son, daughter and I were taking a long roadtrip to Quebec City. On the first leg of our trip, we were in the mountains of New York late in the evening just before dark. We needed to make a bathroom and snack stop. I always told my kids that we don’t fool around in parking lots. We get in the car, get buckled and leave. They didn’t always comply.
When we got back in the SUV my daughter was in the backseat complaining about her blanket. I had the car started but was on my knees on my seat turned around trying to adjust her when my son said - “Mom, is that Ken” (my now husband who was not on the trip with us). I looked up and a man had his face up against the car window looking in. I screamed, he jumped about ten feet backwards and we took off, nearly hitting him with our car. To this day, my kids hurry me in the parking lot.
But, the internet is a whole other world! We talk about why they shouldn’t compete to have the most followers, how they can only follow or let people follow them that they know in person, how they can never post specifics like their full name, address, etc on their social media. But, what about that “check-in” or picture that tells the story for them?
What am I terrified of? Is human trafficking happening today in the USA? Have you seen the recent news stories where they are finding missing minors all over the country (It is great news - but the numbers being found are significantly less than the numbers being trafficked.) Here are a few facts from the National Human Trafficking Hotline:
- The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, with hundreds of thousands in the United States.
- The victims of this crime in the U.S. are men and women, adults and children, and foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.
- Human trafficking victims have been identified in cities, suburbs, and rural areas in all 50 states, and in Washington, D.C.
- They are made to work or provide commercial sex against their will in legal and legitimate business settings as well as underground markets.
- Some victims are hidden behind locked doors in brothels and factories. In other cases, victims are in plain view and may interact with community members, but the widespread lack of awareness and understanding of trafficking leads to low levels of victim identification by the people who most often encounter them.
The world around us is big and amazing and also a little scary. I want my kids to be adventurers and I want them to see the world and the people in it with the same awe that I do. But, I definitely keep a closer eye on what they are doing, with whom and make sure they keep me on their social media. Does that mean they aren’t doing anything without me knowing?
They are teenagers - so, I am sure that isn’t true, but I try to educate them and I hear my son giving my nephew the same cautions that I taught him so I know he heard me. They know most people in this world are good and they aren’t afraid to go out and about. But, caution and awareness are important when we give them the world at their fingertips.