This weekend another human trafficking story played out on the news. More than three dozen children were rescued across the state of Georgia during a human trafficking bust that involved state and federal agents. The team dubbed the case “Operation Not Forgotten”.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more of us, including our children, are spending more time online. Many trafficking predators use apps, websites, job listings and social media to contact and groom their victims. Law enforcement encourages parents to keep a watchful eye on what your child is doing and who they are talking to.
Jennifer Lanter and I recently had the opportunity to talk with two professionals who work daily to eradicate human trafficking in the state of Texas – Larinda Smith, Director of Community Outreach at Unbound Fort Worth and Tomi Grover, PhD at the Office of the Governor, Child Sex Trafficking Team. Personally, I had a thought as to who these traffickers are and the types of victims that they exploit. Tomi and Larinda were able to reframe my thoughts.Traffickers are every day ordinary-looking citizens. Sometimes you just wouldn’t suspect that someone could be a trafficker which is why it’s so important for us as parents, as community members, to be diligent in who are children are talking to online and who they are hanging out with. The traffickers and their victims are from every ethnicity, race, and gender.
“It’s not one individual person. It’s not just one organization. It really takes everyone working together to bring this to a stop.”
Check out these great resources that Larinda and Tomi shared and find ways that you can get involved:
- Lighthouse - Allies Against Slavery
- Texas Attorney General Initiatives – Human Trafficking
- TBRI – Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development
- Drop-in Center for Youth at OneSafePlace
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- FBI YouTube Videos:
“You can be the one that makes a difference for a child.” Tomi Grover
Take Action at a Local Level:
- Tarrant County 5-Stones Taskforce
- Unbound Fort Worth
- Providing supplies (clothing, shampoo, hygiene products)
- Writing notes of encouragement
- Educate yourself with appropriate credible resources
- Have conversations with your children about healthy relationships and how they can be safe online
I hope this bonus episode of the reFRAMED podcast encourages you to get involved. Subscribe to reFRAMED so you don't miss any of our episodes!