In a recent episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective Podcast, I had the opportunity to talk with John DiGirolamo about the sobering topic about the signs of human trafficking and how to prevent human trafficking. Be sure and listen if you missed it. This was an episode that I think every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, and coach need to listen to. While the movie Sound of Freedom helped open our eyes to this great human travesty, I don’t think it provided enough information for us to know what to look for or how to protect our children. In this post, John shares five things every parent needs to know about human trafficking.
Be sure to read to the end for a book giveaway!
Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Human Trafficking
By John DiGirolamo
My book, It’s Not About the Sex highlights true stories of human trafficking from the perspective of an advocate, a law enforcement officer, a survivor, and a brothel madam.
I wrote these stories so the average person would become more aware about how human trafficking occurs under the radar in our society. The stories are not salacious or graphic, but they do accurately describe the horrors of human trafficking. The book reads like a fast-paced fiction novel and the reader learns many facts about human trafficking through interesting storylines.
I’ve put together five things that we didn’t have time to discuss during my interview with Dr. Bengtson.
5 things parents need to know about human trafficking
1. Additional Statistics
Before writing this book, I was peripherally aware of human trafficking, believing it only occurred on our country’s border or in large cities. Below are some of the “surprises” I discovered:
- Human trafficking constantly happens in small town and suburban cities, even in the “nice” part of the city.
- Average age of entry is 12-14 years old for girls, and 11-13 for boys.
- According to the FBI, 300,000 children are trafficked in the United States every year and 5 million children are trafficked globally. However, from a dollar perspective the United States is the #1 consumer of sex and its byproducts (e.g., pornography.)
- Over 80% of children trafficked in the US are American citizens.
- On average, one victim can make over $300,000 in revenue for their trafficker. That can mean they are raped anywhere from 10-15 times per day.
- According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1.6 million and 2.8 million children run away each year. The majority of runaways, homeless, abused, and at-risk children are approached by pimps and drug dealers within 48 hours of landing on the streets. That equates to 1 out of 3 being lured into sex trafficking.
- A victim can be seen upwards of 9 times by a professional before being identified as a victim.
2. Protect Your Kids
- During the interview, we discussed several ways that parents can protect their kids. Some additional suggestions.
Only allow friendships which are helping your child become a better version of themself.
- Talk to your child about what happens if they are mad at their parents. No matter what, the child should never post on social media or a chat room, “I hate my parents” or “I just ran away” as this will be a flashing neon sign for a predator.
- Don’t disclose your home address.
- Disallow location services on social media and games.
- Use the “Find my friends” app so you can see his\her physical location.
- Watch for spoofer programs that trick the “Find My Friends” app into tracking a fake location.
3. Human Trafficking Stories Include the Perseverance of Survivors
My book includes several stories of survivors and how they transformed from a victim to a survivor. The reader can find inspiration about someone who has experienced a traumatic event but did not let that event define the rest of his\her life. Also, one of the stories is a brothel madam’s tale of redemption, which shows the importance of a relationship with Jesus Christ as an integral part of the healing journey.
4. Victim Profile
- During the interview we discussed some grooming signs. However, if a person is actively being exploited, the profile changes. Below are some things to look for that may indicate someone is being trafficked.
Has few or no personal possessions.
- Is not in control of his\her own money or phone.
- Is not in control of his\her own identification documents.
- Inability to clarify where he\she is living.
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts (does not know what city he\she is in.)
- Not in school (if under 18.)
- Loss of sense of time.
- Unable to speak for themselves.
- Living out of a motel or car.
- Gang affiliation.
- Frequent runaway.
5. Most Common Mental, Behavioral or Physical Health Signs
- If a person is actively being exploited, certain signs may be present. Below are some things to look for that may indicate someone is being trafficked.
Fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid.
- Avoids eye contact.
- Appears sleep deprived.
- Lacks health care and\or is in poor physical condition.
- STD and\or pregnancy and\or forced abortion.
- Appears malnourished.
- Shows signs of physical abuse or confinement.
- Shows sign of branding tattoos.
- Needs permission for simple decisions, such as going to the restroom.
- Drug\alcohol abuse.
- Sexually abuses someone else (when a minor does it to another child.)
If you see something that could be human trafficking, report it to the national trafficking number 1-888-373-7888.
About John DiGirolamo
John DiGirolamo is an author, speaker and anti-human trafficking advocate. It’s Not About the Sex featured stories from an advocate, law enforcement officer, survivor and a brothel madam’s tale of redemption. DiGirolamo wrote the book because he believes that human trafficking is one of the most underreported issues of our day, that cuts across all economic, social, racial and political boundaries. He focused on stories from rural and suburban America, seeking to shine a light on and create awareness of the evils of human trafficking.
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, John is giving away a free copy of his book, It’s Not About the Sex: True Stories of Human Trafficking from a Law Enforcement Officer, a Survivor, a Brothel Madam, and an Advocate.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you learned about human trafficking red flags and you will be entered into the contest for your chance to win a copy of his book.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, November 13, 2023. Continental United States only.