In the post I wrote on October 29, 2012, regarding the legitimizing of pimping and human trafficking, I pointed out that media outlets and pop culture glamorizes pimping while undermining the reality of brutality and abuse of this industry. There is a significant connection between the sex and media industries, particularly in how the latter has led to the rise in popularity of the latter.
The FBI released an article in September 2012 which demonstrates this connection. Gangs are utilizing Social Media sites to identify and recruit potential victims – mainly vulnerable high-school aged girls – for prostitution and human trafficking purposes.
The article outlines how the Crips gang in Virginia would troll social networking sites, looking for attractive young girls whom they would contact. If the victim expressed interest (and many did), the gang members would make plans to meet with her in person.
It is important to understand how social media is used to identify and attract victims, allowing traffickers to go undetected. Such secrecy increases the boldness and confidence of pimps as their actions go undetected. Social media provides a discreet outlet for traffickers to expand rapidly online as well as increasing their pool of ‘product’ to pull from. The variety of girls and boys to choose from increases a trafficker’s ability to market to a variety of customers because [s]he can quickly and easily find a victim that matches a specific nitch from their customer base. This adds to the difficulty in prosecuting them later on in court, if they are caught.
For safety tips in which parents can equip their children to safely utilize Social Networking sites, please see the FBI article which I have provided a link to above. Included in the safety tips are (1) ensuring that privacy settings on all Social Media sites are high as well as limiting the amount of personal information that is shared by teenagers and their friends (2) parents should keep current on “Internet language” as teens sometime employ this as ways to communicate with friends when their parents are nearby, thereby filtering what online content their parents see.