Have you heard about all of the recent human trafficking scares? Did it make you think about your own family’s safety?
There have been numerous victims/potential victims all over.
And Facebook users are sharing their scary experiences on video. Many of the recent videos have been Michigan-based stories. That’s the current #2 state for this crime.
The experiences are… well, moms who are out shopping with their kids. Targeted in store. Even parking lots. And more.
Here was one video that really got me thinking:
The video by Allison VanLoon Merkle, who felt unsafe while grocery shopping with her 2-year-old daughter.
In the video, Allison had clearly been knowledgeable in trafficking and abduction. She stated that a man, who she was holding conversation with,was raising a lot of red flags. Later, she even realized her daughter was “being visibly pointed out to another person.”
Now, Allison may or may not have had much of a plan, but her execution was probably the smartest move a victim could make. She made a scene so she and her daughter could escape. During this time the man dashed away, which tells me that her instinct was probably correct.
Thank God they made it home safe!
Other experiences include:
A video similar to this was of a husband who’s wife had experienced the same situation. Although these appeared to be separate locations. The husband was safeguarding the parking lot for anything unusual and noticed some suspicious people who were loitering.
Another video showed 84 children being rescued from sex trafficking in a nationwide raid.
These stories aren’t hard to find. This is happening everywhere.
According to the Soroptimist website, trafficking brings in 32 billion dollars annually. This slavery lifestyle has roles for men, women, and children. It doesn’t really matter on your background. And there really is no tall tale sign of knowing who is a trafficker.
That leaves a lot of blanks to fill-in. First and foremost, we all want to know what we can do to keep our families safe.
So, I decided to contact the local authorities in order to help equip your families with safety. I spoke on the phone with a parent himself, the Chief Sheriff Deputy, Edward Hastings.
He stated that we should always be on the lookout for signs of trafficking as it can be possible anywhere (not just Michigan areas). However, more of the concern for parents is for us to keep an eye on our kids.
Hastings reiterated that as parents, we need to educate our kids on this first. Even showing them the end results of someone else, so they understand how real this is. And that it can happen to anyone. And even more so, we need to communicate with our kids.
In communication we need to know who they are talking to. Who are their outside influences? What are they doing online? And are these people showing signs of toxic behavior?
A major key sign that something might be wrong is sudden behavioral changes. So be aware of what his or her common behavior is to begin with.
Hastings mentions “It is common for teen girls to be influenced through drug dealing,” etc. Even older men online are flirting with girls and telling them what they want to hear (like telling them they are beautiful) in order to gain their trust. “There is no reason for an older man to be (interested in) a young girl,” Hastings stated.
Do you remember the abduction of 15-year old Elizabeth Thomas earlier this year? Although, her 50-year old teacher, Tad Cummins planned to have personal a relationship, he was still able to gain her trust in order to abduct her.
For younger kids, Hastings stated that we really just need to be keeping an eye on them all the time. “Be vigilant.” The dad of two is always aware of his families surroundings whether they are away from home or just playing outside. He suggests we do the same.
Just remember, have that open-line of communication with your kids. Know who is influencing them. Educate the family. Be aware of their surroundings.
And I would like to add; because it can happen to you, have a plan ready. Carry pepper spray. Carry anything that can be used for defense. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a conceal and carry license.
I’d like to thank Sheriff Edward Hastings for allowing me the time to chat about this, parent-to-parent and for his professional advice.
I hope you all feel empowered and confident with this knowledge!
*Here is also a link for the statistics and other facts on human trafficking:
Pixabay user: sammisreachers, Engin_Akyurt
Pexels user: shttefan,