As the author of bestselling, The Slave Across the Street, and its companion book, Slavery in the Land of the Free, I want to offer tips to victim-proof our children.
While slavery is not legal anywhere on the globe, currently there are more slaves in the world and in the United States than at any other time in history. Modern day slavery is called human trafficking and targets our children – particularly young girls. Slavery has always been about those who bully the vulnerable, and who is more vulnerable than children?
The key to protecting our children is to understand that children are easily misled by those with evil intent. Secondly, predators befriend lonely and vulnerable children by acting extra nice and offering something that is too good to be true.
Here are ways to victim-proof our children:
- Invest positive time with your child. Regularly share meals, Bible reading, and find an activity you both enjoy. Listen to your child. Ask questions. Know your child’s world and interests.
- Know who your child spends time with. Be the involved parent that drives your child and his friends to and from school and extra-curricular activities.
- Occasionally check your child’s cellphone and be on her social media to see who your child is talking with, messages received, and photos sent. Parents must be aware of who is in our child’s world, not because we don’t trust our child, but because our child will rarely recognize when someone has malicious motives.
- Always know where your child is and who he is with. Know the address and phone number to the place where he is going. With so many young people having cellphones, parents often think they don’t need another number.
- Partner with extended family, teachers, coaches, youth leaders, church, and neighbors to assure your child has many people who are looking out for her welfare.
- Check to make sure your child is sound asleep in bed each night.
- Limit overnighters. Night is for getting healthy sleep and your child sleeps best at home in his own bed.
- When a teen babysits, get the address and the phone number of the home where she will be.
- Make sure your teen always carries identification.
- Periodically drop in at your child’s school, work, or other activities. Make these positive surprises by bringing lunch, or treats for your child and friends.
- Never let down your guard.
Let your child know that if any of these red flags are happening, it is time to talk with your parent or a trusted adult.
- Conversations you don’t want your parent to know about
- Relationship(s) you keep secret
- Going places you know are off-limits
- Giving in when someone says, “It’s okay, your mom/dad won’t know.”
- Anyone who tells you not to tell your parent about something
- Going against family rules and standards
- Accepting gifts you won’t tell your parent about
- Involvement with drugs and alcohol
- Sexual activity outside of marriage
- Anything that requires you to lie, hide, or keep secret
Victim-proof your child with these tips and assure your child that the only One who meets all our needs and loves us unconditionally is God. God is always speaking to us, always listening, and just a prayer away. God gave His only Son as our Lord and Savior and offers us a future, hope, and eternal life.