For the first day we highlighting the definition of Digital Drama and Cyber Bullying. (See Here) and then we looked at the victim and steps they should take if found in this situation. Day three was a focus on the bully and how to identify them. Day four was support for parents and now the final day is focused on trafficking.
There are dangers on the social media, too many to list, but the danger parents need to be understand is the increased risk online of children being kidnapped, trafficked, sexually assaulted, and even murdered, said the South Lake Tahoe Police Department (SLTPD).
Watch what your kids are doing online. Even on their school provided computers. Monitor who they are talking to, and what kind of content they’re sending and receiving. Report anything that seems predatory.
Listen to your kids. If they’re telling you they’re concerned about something they sent or received, this is an opportunity for listening and education, not necessarily for punishment. They need your help.
Removing all social media is a drastic measure, and in many cases can have the opposite effect: your kid may be more willing to go behind your back to communicate with their friends online. Instead, have conversations with them about the risks and make sure they know what to look for and how to block people.`
SLTPD School Resource Officer Jason Nixon said kids need to understand what is acceptable conduct online: Teens are sending nude photos to someone they don’t know, someone hiding behind a fake profile. Kids will get friend requests on social media, and in order to boost their esteem with “friend counts,” they unwittingly get involved with people they don’t really know.
One of the most common myths about human trafficking is that traffickers are literally kidnapping people off the street. While that scenario does sometimes happen, it is much more rare than people have been led to believe. The truth is, most human traffickers are luring in their victims in a way that is much more subtle, said Katie Gazella of Open Door Youth Services.
Human traffickers are always on the lookout for their next victim. The internet and social media bring that search right to their fingertips. Traffickers can now reach out to vulnerable children, teens, and adults on any application that allows for direct messaging. This includes apps like Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, SnapChat, Twitter, Roblox and Fortnite.
Without the proper privacy protections, traffickers can see what a child has posted online. Those posts may reveal to a trafficker the child’s vulnerabilities, where they like to hang out, and what their interests are. A survivor of human trafficking in Wisconsin once shared with me that her trafficker was someone who responded to the online ad she had posted about re-homing her pitbull. The trafficker sent her a direct message talking about his love of pitbulls. The message was something she could easily relate to. The chat was friendly, not threatening. This is how their friendship started.
Once the online friendship is started, traffickers look for ways to get closer to their victims. They might form a dating relationship, ask for favors, or test the victim’s boundaries. Most human trafficking survivors report that they knew their traffickers before anything bad happened. For most, the relationship started out very innocently. – Katie Gazella of Open Door Youth Services
The dangers of human trafficking that exist online are real. That’s why it’s so important for everyone, especially parents and kids, to pay attention to their social media accounts and privacy settings.
Here’s what you and your family can do today to stay safe from human traffickers online:
– Always have your privacy settings at the strictest possible setting.
– Always have the location setting turned off.
– Never post your location or check in at specific locations.
– Only have contacts that you actually know in real life.
– Periodically check your privacy settings. Updates may cause your settings to revert back.
Check out the helpful information provided by Protect Kids Online Podcast.
Soroptimists of Tahoe Sierra and South Tahoe Now teamed up with South Tahoe Middle School and SLTPD Campus Resource Officer Jason Nixon to hold a poster contest for students with the goal of highlighting Digital Drama among students and others their age. Each day this week one of those posters will be highlighted with the winning posters announced at the end of the month. The Soroptimists are awarding the winning poster creator $50, second place $25 and third prize $5 and SLTPD is giving the 4th place a $5 gift card.