By: Abby Shaffer
For many of us the final school bell has rung for our children and their summer has begun. While this may bring joy to us all, it also means our kids have more free time and will possibly be in more places without constant adult supervision. As a parent in this day and age that can cause some concern. Gone are the days where we can allow our children to roam freely physically or on the internet without checking on them.
This is not to scare but inform moms, dads, and guardians. We need to be on top of what our kids are doing, who they are with, and what they are doing on their electronic devices. There are just short of 9,000 registered sex offenders in Indiana. And sex trafficking has been on the rise worldwide. It has grown to be the second largest and fastest growing crime. Nearly 300,000 youths usually ages 12-14 are at risk. Our state is ranked 25th for states reporting trafficking. All of these are why children need to be watched and aware of situations.
“Parents need to be parents. Be nosey. Check their other (internet) accounts and know where they are,” says Indiana State Police Detective Roger Logsdon. Logsdon works on the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force. Logsdon began working with sex trafficking crimes within the past year and is surprised at how busy he has been. “I am always busy,” says Logsdon. “I could be doing work on this every minute of the day and still have more to do. It is an unfortunate reality that we have thankfully been hearing more about.”
Unfortunately we have not only been hearing proactive operations to stop sex trafficking as there was for the Indy 500, but stories of trafficking that has already happened in our community. Thankfully our police have been responding. Kimberly Hill of the Indiana State Police has been tasked with educating state police on the epidemic of sex trafficking and the signs of it. Working in the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement division she has been made aware of the problem we have in Indiana.
There is a large number of truckers through our state everyday, we are called the Crossroads of America. While some truckers have tried to combat sex trafficking through the organization Truckers against Trafficking, even calling in suspicious situations, there are still many that call ahead for a girl to be at their next truck stop. Hill believes education is the first step to combating the problem. “The goal is to protect our own and help those that can help themselves by being informed about human trafficking.”
So as a parent, how do we do this with our children? Through my short time of volunteering and researching with Ascent 121, who provides advocacy and recovery services for teen survivors of human trafficking, these are some tips I have gathered:
Know where your kids are at all times. Explain that going to a friend’s friend’s house is not okay. You must know the family. Or getting in a car with a friend’s older sibling and their friends that was not planned is not okay.
Talk to them again about safety in public places. Stay in a group. Do not talk to strangers. Do not take shortcuts that would take them in a less visible area. Do not go in an area or place that is questionable from the start.
Review internet safety rules. Monitor your child’s phone. The sites they go to, their social media sites, and text they receive. There are several programs available to do this. It is not a matter of trust here. The predators out there are monitoring our children, you should be too.
While many of these may seem like obvious rules or common sense, we must remember we are dealing with children who are on vacation. Sometimes we all just need a little reminder to avoid dangerous situations. And simply to be aware so everyone can enjoy the rest of their summer.
Abby Shaffer is a volunteer with Ascent 121. She is a stay-at-home mom with a background in public relations and broadcast news. Her hope is educating and making people aware of this issue will help combat the crime of sex trafficking.