National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 (888) 373-7888 Or use the textline: Text "BeFree" (233733)

Blog

August

We all agree that schools can and should be safe places for students. This is especially true for students whose lives are otherwise characterized by instability and lack of safety and security.

All children need someone they can trust to look out for them. Everyone who is part of the school community—administrators, school counselors, nurses, other mental health professionals, teachers, bus drivers, maintenance personnel, food service staff, resource officers, and other school community members—has the potential to be an advocate for children who have been exploited.

  1. Advice to school community members:
  • Learn the factors that make students vulnerable to trafficking and how to identify the warning signs. This is exactly why The Red Cord makes it a priority to educate teachers and staff about human trafficking.
  1. Advice to parents:
  • Listen and understand what your kids are going through and exposed to in school.
  • Get educated about human trafficking, and then have an age-appropriate discussion with your kids about it. Do not be afraid to talk with your kids about this topic!

If you do not feel comfortable discussing the ins and outs with your kids, please contact us and we will gladly speak with your child.

  • Take matters into your own hands and talk with your school principal. Request the administrators require training hosted by The Red Cord to educate the staff and the students. We happily come to your school free of charge. We also have a yearly parenting seminar that covers all the areas of human trafficking and how to prevent your child from falling into the hands of a predator or trafficker.
  • Inspect your child’s phone daily and only allow age-appropriate apps.
  • Trust your child…..don’t trust the world that is coming through the phone or computer.
  • Believe your child when they report issues to you.
  • Help your child report to authorities when needed for a friend or suspicious activity in school.

Read reliable resources. We provide many on our website. Here is another one especially to prepare for back-to-school:

https://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/human-trafficking-americas-schools

This is what True Freedom Looks Like

Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Human trafficking victims live a life that is the opposite of this definition. They may “look free”. Many people will say “I saw her walking around by herself, she could have run away from the situation”. But in reality, they are not free. This is why human trafficking is considered “modern day slavery”. They do not have the freedom, power to act, speak, think, or make choices. The trafficker will use mind control and manipulation to make the victim “think they have a choice”. They may indicate that the victim is free to leave the situation, while in reality they will have to fight for their life to leave. Much of the time it is the lack of mental freedom that really keeps a victim trapped. It is the chains of the brain, not the hands that has the victim in a continual cycle of slavery and control.

Let the Healing Begin

There are several steps that a survivor will go through to heal from a trafficking situation. And though not everyone is the same, or done in a linear fashion, there are some basic steps.

  • Get to a safe place.
  • Assess immediate needs.
  • Assess health issues.

The healing process: Essential to building a strong healing foundation is overriding trauma-related neural pathways that years and years of victimization create. This can look like:

  • Weekly trauma counseling serves to help break Stockholm Syndrome-like trauma bonding symptoms, where survivors may unconsciously feel sympathy and support for their trafficker.
  • Art and equine therapies help survivors develop needed skills and attributes, such as accountability, responsibility, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and self-control. In this way, the therapies distance survivors from their traffickers by showing how they are their own person and have inherent value.
  • Boundary and self-defense classes permit further confidence growth and increased self-worth.
  • Learning and Implementing Life skills:
  • establish healthy life rhythms, such as waking up and going to sleep at the same time, beginning to exercise, and doing their own grocery shopping.
  • accessing identification (as most survivors’ identifications have been taken by their trafficker in order to keep them from escaping);
  • learning how to be responsible with money (budgeting and getting a bank account);
  • furthering education (getting a GED or even beginning college);
  • getting healthcare (dental and medical).
  • search for other housing and gainful employment, both of which are significantly more difficult to access than they may seem.

(Source – https://fightthenewdrug.org/what-happens-to-sex-trafficking-survivors-after-theyre-rescued/

Let the Healing Continue

In some cases, it may take 6-7 attempts to exit “the Life” before a permanent exit occurs. This happens for the same reason it takes multiple exits for domestic violence victims — the emotional bond to the trafficker. Sometimes they become frozen in their thought process.  They understand the dysfunctional place they were in, and they know how to navigate that, but when they come out of “the Life”, they don’t understand how to maneuver the outside world. It’s supposed to be safe. It’s supposed to be predictable. But when it becomes unpredictable, they get scared and retreat into a world that they know how to maneuver. Mental health must be the foundation to help build survivors towards their healing process and keep them from returning to their trafficker.

Unfortunately, in the USA, we are still struggling with having enough housing and resources in each community to help sustain the exit process for survivors. Lack of resources is a big issue to keep someone from returning to “the life.”

Free Forever

For me, being free in Christ means that Jesus is the Lord of my life and that, thanks to his work in me, sin does not control my actions any longer. This is the reality of those of us who are children of God! From the moment we allow Jesus to reign in our lives, to fill us with his presence and transform us, he gives us the strength to obey him. With His help we say no to sin and yes to God’s will. We stop being slaves to sin and move on to live the full life that God wants for us.

Parents Ask: How Do We Keep Our Kids Safe? 

  1. First, how do I know that my child is in danger? What are the signs I look for?

Some indicators that a child is in contact with are trafficker are:

  • Change in behavior
  • Change in friends
  • Withdrawn from family and friends
  • Has new friends that you have not met
  • Change in appearance
  • Has expensive gifts from unknown sources
  • Allows older adults to show interest in them in person or online
  • Refuses to allow you to monitor their phone
  • Hides apps from you
  • Uses multiple cells phones
  • Uses drugs and/or alcohol

 

  1. Who are the people who want to harm my children? How do I keep my kids safe?

The best form of online protection from predators is YOU – the parent. You have the right and duty to check your kids’ devices. Explain to them that you are there to protect them from the dangers of those who are looking to exploit them. Make a plan with your child for when, not if, someone approaches them online or in-person with questionable behavior, sexual photos, or sexual content. Read David’s story on the home page to see how to develop a code word. https://theredcord.org/

Be aware that sometimes the predators are family members. If a child feels uncomfortable around a certain family member, take note of it and do not force your child to spend time with them.

Traffickers always look for a vulnerability to exploit. All kids are vulnerable because they are kids. The internet is used to groom children into thinking that the trafficker/predator is their saving grace to life’s problems. It can be a slow grooming process, or it can take only days. The trafficker will build trust with the child and ask them to keep the relationship a secret so they will not get in trouble. Nude pictures will almost always be asked for and the child will receive nude pictures as well. Traffickers/predators feel safe behind a screen. They feel that they can hide better vs. grooming in public. However, at some point, they will ask to meet with your child.

  1. I have a hard time talking with my kids about these sensitive issues. What do I do?

Download the Safety Tips Sheets:

Use those to connect with your child. But if you are still not comfortable discussing trafficking, pornography, etc. with your child, then contact us. We will be happy to talk with your child and family!

May 2022 : Why Should You Run Toward Pain?

She is 12 years old and looking for someone to trust. That’s the normal age and desire for a girl entering into prostitution. Most likely lured through a trafficker.

This same girl could be in a foster home looking for someone to trust. She could be groomed and lured and become the victim of a trafficker, or she could find someone to trust in her foster home, her church, or perhaps your family.

According to the Department of Justice, most often, victims fall prey to traffickers who lure them in with an offer of attention, food, clothes, a safe place to sleep, friendship, and love. Once the trafficker feels they have successfully made the victim dependent on them, they will manipulate or directly force the victim into prostitution. They will often use violence to retain control. With the rapid growth of digital technology, traffickers now heavily rely on social media to recruit and start the grooming process. https://www.speakupnow.org/foster-care-and-human-trafficking/

What can YOU do to change the course of a child’s life? Involve your church.

  1. Make sure your church members are educated about human trafficking indicators and know how to identify and report. (Contact us for training. Use the warning signs checklist below to determine if a child is being trafficked.)
  2. 2. Help your church be people who run toward pain, not away from it, because they know Christ’s presence is experienced in these places of darkness.
  3. Host discussions in your church about how everyone can help support foster families.

Here are specific ways to help foster families:

  • Volunteer to be a babysitter. In some states, you don’t have to be a licensed foster parent to babysit a foster child. Check with your county offices.
  • Support a foster family. Be friends with them, build relationships, make them a meal, and ask them how you can help.
  • Host an event for foster families so they can connect with one another and receive encouragement.
  • Invite your county’s foster care coordinator to come to speak to a group of interested individuals at your church.
  • If you are a foster parent, invite The Red Cord to come to speak at your foster parent support meetings. We know that many foster care parents need resources who are caring for children who have been trafficked or sexually exploited.

*WARNING SIGNS CHECKLISTIs this child a victim of trafficking?

National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 (888) 373-7888 Or use the textline: Text “BeFree” (233733)

__ 1. Does the child appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship? This is a big vulnerability for foster care children who are being moved frequently from home to home.

__ 2. Has a child stopped attending school? Foster care children change schools frequently.

__ 3. Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?

__ 4. Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?

__ 5. Is the child disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?

__ 6. Does the child have bruises in various stages of healing?

__ 7. Is the child fearful, timid, or submissive especially around specific people? Traffickers can be family members.

__ 8. Does the child show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?

__ 9. Is the child often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to? This goes beyond “adult supervision, or parenting care.”

__ 10. Does the child appear to be coached on what to say? Ask questions in different ways to see if you get the same answer.

__ 11. Is the child living in unsuitable conditions?

__ 12. Does the child lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation? This is a consistent issue with foster care children who are re-familied often.

GET HELP

Safety Survival Kit 

 

Children Resources

Teen Resources

  • Top 10 safety list for teens and parents

http://theredcord.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/10Safetytips-parents.pdf

Free the Slaves/Students https://www.freetheslaves.net/take-action/students-ending-slavery/

Parent Resources

U.S. Government Resources

June Blog: What happened to this bill?

Education about human trafficking is the best form of safety and prevention.  Knowing the warning signs of grooming, force, fraud, coercion, and the tactics of traffickers is key to staying safe. Educating parents and employers about the signs of human trafficking and online safety need to be part of everyone’s yearly protocol update in the home and workplace.

Oklahoma was on track to allow nonprofits, like The Red Cord, to provide anti-trafficking awareness and prevention training in the public schools for all middle school and high school students which includes our most vulnerable population – 12-16-year-olds. But somewhere along the way, the final bill only included college-age students. We are in process of finding out what happened to this bill and why younger students were not included in this final approved legislation.

You can read the current anti-trafficking bill here: https://www.okhouse.gov/Media/ShowStory.aspx?MediaNewsID=8152

We urge you to contact your state legislators to revisit this bill to include children 12 years old through college age as was originally intended.     

The Red Cord is still on a mission to provide this invaluable information to school systems. Letters of information and an invitation to enlist The Red Cord to present this information in schools will be sent out to all school districts in Southwest Oklahoma beginning first with the Lawton School District.

We urge school leaders to take advantage of this opportunity to bring vital awareness and prevention training to students. It is ultimately the responsibility of parents to keep their children safe. However, we feel like this is an opportunity for the community and families to work together to keep our children safe.

We urge school leaders to take advantage of this opportunity to bring vital awareness and prevention training to students. It is ultimately the responsibility of parents to keep their children safe. However, we feel like this is an opportunity for the community and families to work together to keep our children safe.

Will you join us on our mission?

Learn more about our specific training opportunities here: http://theredcord.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Human-Trafficking-Trainings-13290.pdf

We would love to see you at our next free scheduled training event, Thursday, June 17, 5:30 p.m. Buffalo Grove Coffee Company, 605 SW E Ave, Lawton. Contact us for more information:

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