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What Is MBF Doing About Human Trafficking?

Nicole was 17 when her mother went to prison. She turned to social media and soon met a stranger on Facebook who offered to “help take care of her.” As it turned out though, Nicole had met a trafficker, and instead of helping her, he prostituted her for years. It wasn’t until she was in her early 20s and badly injured that she was finally able to escape. Nicole is not alone, as many youth are being reached, recruited, manipulated, and sold online by traffickers. Social networking sites and apps such as Facebook, MySpace, Kik, Snapchat, and WhatsApp, along with gaming apps and virtual reality sites allow strangers access to our youth. Websites such as Craigslist and Backpage have also become major avenues of trafficking youth online.

Traffickers groom and manipulate their victims, pretending to care about them and convincing them they are trustworthy. A common tool of traffickers is to advertise jobs such as modeling opportunities. What seems like a dream job then becomes a nightmare. When they begin a relationship with a victim online, they will often ask them for nude photos or videos. Once the child complies, they begin to coerce and control them by threatening to make the video or pictures public. However it begins, once that relationship is formed and the victim trusts them, traffickers start making demands. In cases of domestic minor sex trafficking, those demands are that the victim have sex with others.

Research suggests that youth who have been abused, bullied or have suffered from other adverse childhood experiences such as neglect, divorce, or substance abuse are most vulnerable to human trafficking recruitment. However with the continued growth and reach of technology today, any child is susceptible. This is why the Monique Burr Foundation for Children (MBF) is focused on preventing a wide-range of childhood victimization and trauma and teaching children digital safety.

Did you know?

  • 63% of kids are hiding what they do online from their parents
  • 55% of kids are online when their parents think they are sleeping
  • 1 in 3 teens has met people offline after meeting online
  • 39% of teens have sent sexually suggestive messages via text, email or instant messaging
  • 48% of teens have received such messages

To combat human trafficking through the Internet, we need to educate all youth, parents, and the community about child safety and online dangers, and what steps can be taken for protection. MBF provides a number of resources to help:

  • The MBF Child Safety MattersTM program for grades K-6, teaches children 5 Safety Rules that help students prevent, recognize and respond to unsafe situations, including bullying, cyberbullying, online dangers, and all types of child abuse and exploitation. Students also learn how to identify and talk to Safe Adults when they feel unsafe or have been hurt. This program is provided at no cost to Florida public elementary schools in Florida.
  • The MBF Teen Safety MattersTM program for grades 6-8 is being piloted this year. It teaches 5 Safety Rules, Safe Adults, and covers Human Trafficking and Teen Dating Violence.
  • MBF provides online information and professional development courses, including “Preventing Child Sexual Abuse” and “Real World Safety: Protecting Kids Online and Off, which includes bullying, cyberbullying, digital abuse, and exploitation.
  • MBF also hosts an annual Real World Safety Conference: Protecting Youth Online and Off to help our community learn about the safety challenges of today’s youth from renowned experts in the field.
  • MBF has two websites with additional resources for parents, educators, and other professionals. Visit mbfchildsafetymatters.org and www.polyvictimization.org to learn more.
  • Finally, download our app, “Child Safety Matters,” at no cost from the App Store or Google Play to find other information and great resources to help keep kids safe.
  1. http://enough.org/
  2. http://www.guardchild.com/teenage-sexting-statistics/
  3. http://www.equalitynow.org/
  4. https://technologyandtrafficking.usc.edu/report/human-trafficking-online-cases-patterns/
  5. http://www.eliberare.com/en/2015/05/4-methods-traffickers-use-to-recruit-their-victims-keep-your-eyes-wide-open/

Human Trafficking Blog Series:

What Is Human Trafficking

Why You Should Be Concerned About Human Trafficking

What MBF is Doing About Human Trafficking

What You Can Do About Human Trafficking

 

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What They're Saying...

The MBF Teen Safety Matters curriculum hosts an in-depth approach to important social and safety concerns relevant to youth. The program content is age-appropriate with engaging activities, jargon, and realistic situations to positively promote a relatable and impacting learning experience…Teen Safety Matters is an educational benefit to all parties involved – students, parents, facilitators, and schools.

There’s not a child in the world who can’t benefit from this program. There are so many instances where we see children who have been damaged and hurt. Things happened to them and we think, if they’d only had this program, if they’d only had the benefit of this education, that might not have happened to them. If we can prevent that from happening to a single child, then it’s worth all the effort we have put forth.

I heard about the program through my son. He came home…and showed me the safety rules. I cannot thank the Foundation enough; to have other people who are also concerned about my child’s safety and the safety of other kids is wonderful. I especially like the program’s focus on the prevention side.