Last month I wrote an article on why my husband and I never post photos of our child online. Included in this post I explained why we also do not disclose any of locations we have been with our daughter and why we try to limit the amount of personal information we share regarding her. Not long after writing this particular piece I stumbled across an article featured in Time Magazine that held a similar concept to the one in my blog.
The brief article, entitled My Experiment Opting Out of Big Data Made Me Look Like a Criminal, describes how personal information is collected throughout the government, academic and industry markets. The mantra of “if you don’t like it, just opt out” is thrown at individuals who are uncomfortable with how public their lives are becoming yet this is not as simple or easy as its advocates proclaim. Janet Vertesi, the article’s author, demonstrated how complicated this catchphrase really is with a nine-month long experiment to see if she could keep her pregnancy a secret from the Internet (which would have fed that information through databases that companies use for targeted advertising). The author concluded the article by stating that her ‘experiment’ was personally inconvenient to herself and her husband while making interactions with family and friends extremely awkward and rude. She even wrote that she and her husband were seen as inconsiderate, abrupt and antisocial.
All of this to say, I was encouraged by what I read. I can relate with the above statement as many people view my husband and I as “inconsiderate, abrupt, rude” and somewhat “antisocial” for being picky about what we share via the Internet regarding our daughter. It is very unfortunate that our desire to live private lives have caused the individuals and community around us to label us in such a manner while straining relationships. And although the Time’s article features a slightly different topic then the one that I shared a few weeks ago, the theme is the same. The ability to opt out of publicly sharing every aspect of one’s life is viewed negatively and met with fierce criticism. Gone are the days of personal, face-to-face interactions among individuals. In its place is surface-level relationships with individuals merely interested in learning the details of their peers lives without ever holding a conversation. Convenience, comfort and complacency have made our society unwilling to invest richly or deeply into individual human life. And have alienated those who desire this and more.
As a parent, I am constantly worrying about how to protect my beautiful, innocent child(ren), especially in a day and age where danger seems to be constantly present. Human Trafficking is one crime that has exploded over the past several years due, largely, to the advancement of technology. For most people, it is a vague concept that is thought to reside primarily overseas or is an issue that could never happen to them or a loved one. This could not be further from the truth.
Human Trafficking affects us all. However, vulnerable populations – such as children – tend to be at higher risk of falling prey. Georgia Family Magazine hit the nail right on the head when they wrote “as awful as this subject is, parents can’t mince words when it comes to educating innocent kids…It’s up to parents to protect children by developing trusting, open relationships, and by educating them to the very real dangers posed by this industry.” I hope and pray that my child(ren) never become victims of this disgusting business! I do not know what the future holds for them but I know that there are steps that I can take to reduce the changes that my child(ren) are not victimized.
Tips To Protect Your Child
- Build honest relationships with your children. If your child is acting out, sit down and listen – what’s going on?
- Be honest about your own experiences.
- Make sure your children with you – or a trusted adult – at all times.
- Create and provide your child/teen with health self-esteem. Traffickers prey on the insecurities of children, teenagers and young adults.
- Strictly monitor computer use. And provide them with safety tips regarding social media (i.e. turning their location services OFF, putting their profiles on PRIVATE and not accepting friend requests unless they personally know the individual) that will increase their safety from online predators. Use the parental control settings on your computer to check the Internet history. Have access to all of their account usernames and passwords for safety reasons. And discuss with your children the dangers of social media and how this is influencing your decision to monitor the computer and Internet usages.
- Educate your children going off to college or travel about the deception used by (sex) traffickers.
- Teach kids never to lose themselves in alcohol or drugs.
- Warn young people to avoid stairwells, elevators, clubs, bars and deserted streets where they can be whisked out of sight.
- Teach youngsters to beware of offers of modeling and dancing careers that seem too good to be true.
- Explain the importance of being aware of their surroundings.
- Always meet your child’s friends and significant others. Local traffickers often times use young and charming individuals – particularly males – to recruit children into the (sex) trafficking industry. Notice if your child has new clothing items, makeup products, cell phone(s) or other items and inquire about how they acquired them. Also watch your children for changes in mood or increased anxiety.
For additional safety tips and information, check out the links below. I gathered the above tips from these wonderful resources: