In America, women make up 91% of sex trafficking cases – some are recruited from the tender age of 12 years old.
Human sex trafficking is a modern form of slavery and sadly it’s one of the most profitable industries in the world. Through a combination of psychological manipulation, violence, and fraud; sex traffickers mold innocent young girls into commercial sex slaves. Sex trafficking is never an easy topic to discuss-- let alone with innocent children. How can you talk to your daughter about such an ugly topic?
Well think of it like making a pizza. You can’t teach someone how to make a pizza without first explaining what a pizza is right?
Start by breaking down the definition in a way that’s honest, yet palatable enough for a child to grasp (without becoming fearful).
Your daughter may ask, “How does a normal kid turn into a trafficking victim?” That’s when you explain the sex trafficker’s “seasoning” process.
Seasoning is the process that traffickers use to trick young girls into the trade. The combination of seduction, emotional manipulation, intimidation, and isolation breaks down resistance and activates a loyal “trauma bond.”
As you talk to your daughter about this process, explain how simple attributes like mindfulness, intuition, and self-possession can be natural armors against predatory behavior.
*A Couple Things to Note*
- Seasoning can take place either in-person or online-- aka social media.
- Traffickers are not always grown men/women. Sometimes they send out “girl recruiters”- other young girls that befriend the future victims and trick them into the trade. The “girl recruiter” may captivate other girls with her rebellious, yet mysterious persona.
Teach Her the Value of Mindfulness & Intuition
A trafficker starts with luring and seduction. A trafficker will play the role of a protector or boyfriend in order to establish trust. He’ll tell a potential victim that she’s beautiful and smarter than the other girls her age-- anything to make her feel special and desired.
Tell your daughter that her intuition is valuable inner guidance.
Avoid general clichés like “don’t talk to strangers.” Instead of saying “Don’t talk to strangers,” teach her mindfulness techniques.
- How do you feel around people you love and trust versus someone you don’t trust?
- What happens in your body when you feel afraid and cautious?
“A girl who’s in-tune with her mind-body sensations can decipher between positive and suspicious interactions.”
Talk to Your Daughter About Her Mental/Emotional Well-Being
During the grooming stage, the trafficker makes the victim fall in love with him by showering her with expensive gifts or promising to “move away together.” He might ask intrusive personal questions about her home life and the people closest to her. He’ll act curious when really, he’s just gathering information to manipulate her with later on. Reports show that traffickers heavily target children with a history of abuse, family dysfunction, and low self-esteem.
Traffickers prey on vulnerable girls with low self-esteem. We can love our daughters to death, but we can’t always control their level of self-esteem. What we can do is provide a safe space for them to open up about their mental and emotional well-being. If she learns to confide in family and friends, she won’t seek validation elsewhere.
“A girl who’s emotionally and mentally grounded is a girl who is self-possessed and confident.”
We don’t want our kids to be timid and guarded, but they should have a healthy suspicion when someone approaches them out of nowhere. Talk to your daughter about red flags. If a stranger is asking really personal questions- that’s suspect behavior. Tell them that normal, respectable adults aren’t interested in children/minors.
Tell Your Daughter to Be Aware of Her Surroundings
If you choose to break it down any further, end on a lighter note. Encourage your daughter to be observant in her environments. If she notices that one of her peers is reclusive or troubled, the least she can do is be a friend. Imagine how many less victims there would be if they each had a loving, observant friend to confide in.
Human sex-trafficking is a subject that’s near and dear to our hearts. Here at Tomato Superstar, a portion of our proceeds are donated to non-profits combating human trafficking, gendercide, and the marginalization of young girls around the world. If you’d like to support this cause check out our store here.
By Kristin Bruce
To view another interesting article on this subject please check out The Huffington Post.