Child trafficking…not the easiest subject to learn or read about or just plain talk about, but parents need to be aware. Believe it or not, there are 300, 000 children who are sexually exploited in the US each year according to Homeland Security. The state of Michigan is #6 on the charts. And to top it all off, the average age of trafficking is 12. The FBI has called sex trafficking of adults and minors the fastest-growing global criminal activity and the third-largest behind drugs and weapons as it is a 32 billion dollar business worldwide. All scary statistics, yet true!
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jan Edwards who is the CEO and Founder of Paving the Way, which is a team of business leaders, parents and grandparents who believe every child deserves to have a say in how their life goes regardless of their circumstances. Paving the Way also believes in the education of children, parents and families on what’s possible when they sit down as a family and discuss challenging topics.
Jan wants to be the voice of the voiceless on this subject and she SOOO stressed that parents are the first life of defense of their children in safety. Here are some tips that Jan wanted to pass along:
- People don’t know this is happening. Educate students, parents and teachers.
- Spend time with your kids. Life is busy and parents are too easily get caught up in with not spending time with their kids. Parents are the first to know a massive alteration of behavior of their own children before anyone else.
- Create a safe space. Make sure kids have two grown-ups to trust.
- Get to know your kids. Who are their friends, know that they are loved, find out what their passions are.
- Look for red flags in your kid’s lifestyle. Do they have a new group of friends or they are now secretive, missing school a lot, not sharing stories about school like they used to? Are they pulling away from activities (sports, dance) they love for no logical reason? Did they used to be loving and want to be with you and suddenly that all changes? Changes may be very subtle.
- Be aware of your surroundings. You may not be a victim or think you know a victim, but be aware of what is happening around you. Seeing a group of men around a young boy or girl or seeing someone on a date putting something in their date’s drink are all flags we need to act upon.
- Put the Victim’s National Hotline phone number in your cell phone. This empowers you to be able to act upon a situation immediately.
For more information, go to www.stoptraffickingtoday.com. Resources for Victims National Hotline is 888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to 233722. Hotline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in 150 different languages. Take action today!
ABOUT JAN EDWARDS
As an author, a speaker and a coach, Jan is widely known for her leader skills and straightforward communication. She is committed to people living a life they love, regardless of their circumstances.
As a global citizen, she works with teams all over the world to educate and prevent trafficking, along with developing programs that empower people to create a life they love. She has worked with organizations such as Global Hope International Network, Florida Abolitionists, to expand their reach and sits on the board of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning in Orlando.
Her passion is making a difference in the world by ending child trafficking: specifically to end children recruiting other children into the world of sex trafficking by raising awareness with the public. We work along side of the hospitality industry, law enforcement and management companies to collaborate, creating a culture of safety for these victims and ending this silent crime.