sad child lying on his side

A Parent’s Guide to Sex Trafficking and Pornography

Kids equate time and attention with love.

If children do not receive enough time and attention from their parents, they will seek it elsewhere. Kids with a parental time and attention deficit will accept approval and acceptance from anyone who will give it: peers, coaches, gang members, teammates, and people with questionable character and bad judgment. This neediness is what sex traffickers and sexual predators lock onto.

Giving time and attention doesn’t mean offering more praise or gifts or clothes or prizes. Parents sometimes substitute these things for that which kids most crave – attention. Into this gap step sex traffickers who use social media to target entire schools through Facebook and other social media platforms. Once kids are friended, bad actors can leverage these attachments to friend and start conversations with other kids who don’t realize they are not talking to another young person. The bad guys flatter, ask them about their goals and dreams, and eventually, to meet.

They also use peers or classmates, who befriend the target and slowly groom the child for the trafficker by bringing the child along to parties and other activities

Human Trafficking in America’s Schools
young boy in blue and white striped shirt looking at phone
Sexual predators can friend children through social media. Image by George Hodan on PublicDomainPictures.net

Technology revived the sex trafficking industry as it was dying in the 1990s and makes it easy to contact, communicate with, and direct victims to commit sexual acts in exchange for stuff, money, drugs, and attention.

Sex traffickers are usually females who were victims themselves and who now have the attitude: “Better her than me.” Sexual trafficking has occurred in cars in school parking lots, during school hours.

Devaluing self

Sex trafficking testimonials of willing participants (usually high school students, not those who have been kidnapped and sold into sex slavery) reveal two things:

  1. The girls did not value themselves or their bodies. That’s why they were willing to do sexual acts in exchange for money and things.
  2. They wanted money to buy things, sometimes drugs. If their goal was stuff, e.g. iPhones, designer clothes or bags, they wanted the stuff to get attention.
white-haired man in maroon baseball cap, grey sweater, tan pants holding girl wearing red hair bow, red long-sleeved shirt and black pants on sidelines of American football field

It comes down to wanting to be seen and valued. For some reason, this is something only a father or other permanent male role model/authority figure can provide. Girls just don’t internalize their worth when their moms say they are smart and beautiful. They do so when their dad is a constant, strong presence in their lives. He doesn’t even have to say nice things to them; they internalize how he treats them and their mother.

Warning Signs Your Daughter or Her Friends are Involved in Sex Trafficking

  • Paying for things she couldn’t afford before
  • Secretive behaviors
  • Change of personality
  • New, material-oriented friends
  • Texts at all hours that she doesn’t want you to see
  • A much older boyfriend
  • Hotel keys
  • Using tampons daily, even when she’s not on her period

Not Your Disco Days Pornography

Kids aged 11-12 are seeing gonzo porn on their computers and smartphones. Gonzo porn is the new, normal, pornography that is often a youth’s first exposure to sex, according to Becky McDonald, Founder and President of Women At Risk, International.

It is violent, demeaning, and often involves sexually trafficked victims. It’s not adult actors with frequent snack and water breaks, performing to cheesy soundtracks amongst a sorry plot. It is choking the neck, hitting, raping, and forcing the woman to perform oral sex so that she chokes.

What it Means

man and woman eating ice cream cones together
Young people should understand that healthy sexuality is respectful, joyful, and supportive, not what they may see in gonzo porn. Image by Rawpixel on Unsplash

I don’t want gonzo porn to be my kids’ first, most vivid sexual education. I also don’t want them to think gonzo porn is normal, healthy sexuality. Yet, that is the case for young people everywhere. Unless parents teach kids that self-respect and respect for your partner extend into the bedroom, kids will grow up believing this how to behave during sex. What a horrifying thought whether you have a son or a daughter.

Flaccid Brains

In addition to mental and physical harm, this disturbing genre of pornography is addicting and leads to an increasing desire for more, weird stuff. Addiction requires ever-increasing stimulus levels to trigger the same dopamine release in the brain.

Pornography addiction isolates and causes young men in their 20’s to experience erectile dysfunction. The addiction drives the pornography market which in turn pulls in more sex trafficking victims.

What Can You Do?

father holding young daughter in field, both smiling
Image by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
  • Remind them of your unconditional love.
  • Gift your kids with your time and attention. Years later they will value that more than anything you buy them.
  • Talk to your kids using age-appropriate language about healthy sexuality.
  • Delay getting your kid a smartphone. She doesn’t need it no matter how much she begs. She can have real conversations with real friends with her voice, not by text.
  • Do not allow your kids to have social media accounts.
  • Keep laptop cameras covered when not in use.
  • Make time to talk to your kids every day about what’s going on in his life. I suggest no devices allowed while driving together and during meals to encourage natural conversation.

You can read more about sex trafficking here.


Works Cited (in case links break or are taken down)

Dines, Gail. “Growing Up in a Pornified Culture.” TEDxNavesink, April 28, 2015, https://binged.it/2WAKznv. Accessed 27 May 2019.

Fonrouge, Gabrielle. “The sick tactics sex traffickers use to find victims.” New York Post, April 17, 2018, https://nypost.com/2018/04/17/how-sex-traffickers-hunt-for-victims-and-brainwash-them/. Accessed 27 May 2019.

McDonald, Becky. 2019. Awaken Anti-human trafficking Conference, May 4, 2019, Honolulu, Hawaii.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students, Human Trafficking in America’s Schools, Washington, D.C., 2015.


Featured image by Pxhere.com

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