While anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, there are definitely things that make a person more susceptible to becoming a victim.
In part one, I mentioned vulnerability being a vital key in traffickers recruiting victims. While abduction, kidnapping, false job advertisements, and offering ‘help’ are methods used, showing romantic interest is most common. (over 50% of victims are recruited this way.
Girls that are more vulnerable are usually those that have had a rough past; history of abuse, bullying, etc. Broken families, being in the foster system, or group homes also raises their vulnerability level.
Young teen girls are especially targeted because of their level of trust, naivety, and desire to be loved and accepted.
And while I can’t speak for others, I can only share my story and the things that made me vulnerable as a teen girl. So that is the gist of this article, and is not to say there aren’t other reasons girls are vulnerable, or that my story is a cookie cutter story. Every one’s is different; this is just one in many.
With the major increase of teens on social media, predators prowl through Facebook, dating sites, and other social media, looking for girls that look like they would make easy targets.
“I hate my parents”, “I wish I could run away”, and other such statements on social media alert the traffickers that with the promise of love, excitement and money, it wouldn’t be hard to lure you away.
Never post risque pictures online, or email them to ‘online boyfriends’. Your ‘boyfriend’ may not be who he says he is, and may distribute your pictures without your permission. Also, hackers could get a hold of whatever you have in your email.
Don’t disclose personal information (address, phone number, last name, birth date, etc)
Don’t give your name or number to people you meet online or in public.
He may NOT be who he says he is online.
Sure, his profile might say 19, like a guy I ‘met’ on a dating site. After emailing awhile, I found out he was 30.
And while it is so important to stay safe online, and in public,
I believe the biggest thing that vulnerable teen girls are missing is Jesus.
They struggle with low self esteem and are looking for ‘love’ in all the wrong places. They give themselves to whoever, in hopes they will be accepted.
What they don’t know, is that Someone loves them. He accepts them just the way they are, and they don’t need to ‘earn’ it. He created them beautiful and precious, and giving their hearts and bodies away doesn’t make them worth more.
A relationship with Jesus will fill the void they have inside; the search for love ends here. He longs to rescue all His children from the darkness, as they blindly hunt for something to ease their pain.
Find a Confidant
A big mistake I made was refusing to confide in older, mature, godly adults. There were many in my life I could have shared with, but pride, bitterness, and sin made so where I felt trapped and alone.
Be open, transparent and honest. Find someone you can trust, and confide in them. Whether it is about a sketchy encounter at the mall, a boy you started dating, or an ‘online friend’ that is asking you do to do things you aren’t sure about, let someone know. Mature adults can give you wise counsel in handling these situations.
What We Can Do
Maybe you know these things already, or don’t consider yourself at risk for trafficking. That is great. But please, remember not everyone is as fortunate as you. Some girls may be dying inside, without anyone ever noticing. Without a relationship with Christ, they feel unloved. They hide, shrouded in the darkness of their secrets. Lacking understanding, they make foolish decisions that may mean their life. It may even be a girl in your own church. Reach out to those around you. Let’s pray for our girls.