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Your Child Has Already Been Targeted: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Human Trafficking

If you’re like me, there’s a good chance that up until these past couple of years, you had no idea that human trafficking was taking place in America.

I’m not a journalist. Or a reporter. And I don’t even really like coffee, but I found myself eager to sit down for an interview with two world-changers at my favorite local coffee shop. Carl and Tina Kadolph, owners of Palate Coffee Brewery, created their business in order to sustain their true calling, an organization called Love Missions.

Love Missions seeks to abolish modern day slavery and the exploitation of children around the world. That’s right. My local coffee shop rescues children from sex trafficking. And until my interview with owners Carl and Tina, I had no idea that my children have already been targeted, and so have yours.

For Tina, human trafficking is a very real and very personal issue. As a survivor, she is passionate about raising awareness, educating families, and providing much-needed resources and opportunities for other survivors. Being trafficked by her own mother at the tender age of 4 years old, Tina knows what it is like to hate life so much that you try to end it. She doesn’t want another person to ever feel hopeless, and so she endeavors to eradicate the evil of human trafficking in our country and around the world.

Tina knows that with the right help, victims can heal, develop healthy relationships, and create the kind of future they’ve only ever dreamed of.

At the age of 20, Tina met a man at a party who reached out to her as a friend. Tina didn’t trust any man at that point in her life and was hesitant to accept his friendship. After 35 years of marriage, Carl is now not only her friend but he is also her business partner, mission partner, and healing partner as they worked through Tina’s trauma together. In addition to Carl, Tina attributes her relationship with God as to how she was able to bring good from her situation, even though at the time she couldn’t imagine what that would look like. Tina believes it is the grace of God, the love of her husband, and the support of the community that has enabled she and Love Missions to become the driving forces they are in the fight against human trafficking.

Tina and Carl operate two coffee shops. They also have an ice cream and bubble waffle shop that have just opened. All the baristas are volunteers, so that all profits can go directly to the work of Love Missions. They have a safe house in Guyana and one due to open in South America before the end of the year. They are also working to open a Life Center in Central Florida to help victims learn life skills, receive counseling, and delve into therapeutic outlets such as sewing, dancing, painting, and even connecting with an emotional support dog. Survivors will be taught how to become successful entrepreneurs (if they wish to go that route), create stellar resumes, and how to dress for success. The back portion of the ice cream and waffle shop, Palate Bub’s and Ice Cream, houses a full commercial kitchen where survivors will learn how to cook and bake from professional chefs and bakers, giving them important job skills and life-changing opportunities.

The Kadolphs are passionate about giving survivors the tools and resources they need to rebuild their lives and become successful, thriving individuals, able to accomplish anything they set their minds to.

Social media has helped organizations such as Love Missions and Rapha House spread awareness and offer a call to action, yet there is still so much that I didn’t know that I didn’t know. Maybe you’re diligent like I am in keeping the conversation open with my children about child predators, never talking to strangers, and only engaging with people they know on their phones… but what if that’s not enough?

If you’re like me, this list is for you.

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Human Trafficking

#7- Pedophiles and traffickers can message your children through YouTube.

I seriously didn’t know this was a thing, and Tina didn’t know either until her 2-year-old grandson was watching Paw Patrol on YouTube on her phone and a message popped up asking, “How are you?” Tina looked into it further and so did I. Thankfully, YouTube has become aware of the problem and has been pressured to do something about it. In June, they began removing the commenting feature on many of their children’s videos.  The Google-owned social video platform offers tips for protecting your children in this free e-book and provides step-by-step instructions on how to turn off the commenting feature.

#6- Human trafficking doesn’t just happen in big cities. 

Not only is it happening in our country, it’s happening right here in our own backyards. It’s happening in small town America. It’s happening around your base and happening right under our noses. Tina explained to me what the dark web is and how traffickers are able to log on and shop for children much like you and I shop for new shoes. Your town probably has a list of available children and women that can be purchased for labor and/or sex right this very minute on the dark web. Mine does. And it sickens me.

#5- Boys are trafficked, too. 

The movies tend to show women in Cambodia or little girls in Bangladesh being ripped from their homes and forced into slavery but the truth is that little boys are trafficked, too. Tina says that boys are even more difficult to rescue and rehabilitate because they tend to be more embarrassed and harbor shame which prevents them from coming forward to seek help. While the Polaris Project identified boys only making up around 10% of the survivors who came forward in 2018, every family needs to be aware that their children are targeted regardless of their gender. 

#4- Traffickers can be doctors, lawyers, and CEOs, too. 

With the recent sex trafficking charge (and then suicide) of financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, the world learned that traffickers aren’t always the stereotypical pimps or creepy, gawky men with handlebar mustaches driving white vans or perverts living in their mother’s basement. They are frequently doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and men of great financial means that often hire others to do the dirty work for them. 

#3- Foster care children, immigrants, and refugees are at greatest risk for becoming victims. 

This statistic breaks my heart, and I’m not afraid to say that it should break yours, too.

It’s no surprise that the most vulnerable among us are most often victimized, but it crushes my heart to think that women, teens, and children who have recently lost their homes and are trying desperately to make their way in this world are the ones most likely to be sold into slavery in America, land of the free, home of the brave. A reported 50,000 victims are trafficked into the US each year. What sickens me even more are Tina’s stories of foster care group homes and individuals responsible for caring for our most vulnerable who are so weak and cowardly that they choose people who have already been victimized to become their victims of human trafficking. 

#2- Your child has already been targeted by a human trafficker. 

A FBI agent once told Tina that if your child has a cell phone, there is a 100% chance that your child has already been contacted by a human trafficker.

That seems completely ridiculous and utterly impossible … except it’s not.

With 500,000 child predators online every single day, the reach is far. To make matters worse, 70% of young people will accept a “friend request” from people that they don’t know. If your child has an online presence of any kind, they’ve been seen by a child predator, at least once.

#1- Many children and teens are trafficked “in plain sight.”

Of all the startling realizations on this list, this one sucker-punched me the hardest. Being a mama of five, I cannot imagine finding out that this had been happening to one of my own. “In plain sight” cases occur, as Tina explained, when a child or teen is targeted through social media or gaming. Over days, weeks, or even months, a victim is groomed by predators pretending to be a child of similar age. FBI agents have told Tina that these predators go to great lengths to engage with children, to the point of wearing adult diapers while engaging online so that they never even have to step away to use the restroom. These predators are committed to making our children trust them. Why? Because traffickers can make anywhere from $250,000 – $600,000 a year for each child they “own.”  It starts innocently, and it will carry on until the trust that has been built up is significant. Children unknowingly give away private information such as their name, address, or school name. Predators then arrange to meet with them at the playground, down the street, or in some other manner and the child is never seen again.

With teenagers, predators use both social media and even in-person encounters in the neighborhood or at their place of employment to gain their trust. Predators often hire younger, good looking individuals to lure them in. When they find a girl they deem as vulnerable, they convince her to start sexting and sharing pictures or videos of herself. Then they turn it around and blackmail the girl. Sometimes they go as far as threatening the girl’s family if she doesn’t cooperate. These are the girls (and sometimes boys) who end up on the dark web’s shopping list. These victims can be purchased by the hour and their traffickers arrange for them to be delivered to hotel rooms and other meeting places. What started as a social media infatuation or coffee house crush quickly escalates into the biggest mistake of the girl’s life.

These victims who are trafficked “in plain sight” carry shame and fear and feel they have no option but to do as they’re told. They’re often good girls that go to your kids’ school, or your church, or live in your neighborhood. They’re not usually the girls living on the streets that you “expect” to get “caught up” in such a lifestyle. They are girls who are loved. Cared for. Respected.

It might have even happened to you.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of human trafficking, it is never too late to get help and healing. The Human Trafficking Hotline Number is 888-373-7888. You can also text the word HELP to BeFree (233733) anytime.

 

What You Can Do To Protect Your Children

  1. Become informed. Completely informed. Even when it disgusts you, keep reading. The bad guys are always finding new ways to infiltrate the barriers we put up, so be vigilant in learning about ways to continually protect your children.
  2. Inform your children. I know it’s hard because you don’t want to scare them, but it’s important for our kids to know that it’s not OK to talk to strangers online – even strangers who say they’re the same age or who have a profile picture that makes them look the same age. Our kids are oblivious to the evil of this world and while we want to shield them from it, we still have an obligation to prepare them for the encounters online that are very likely to come. They should know that if they ever are approached, you’re on their side and that you will be ready to help them. Some kids will stay quiet because they don’t want to lose a game or app that they love. That’s why it’s so vital to clearly communicate the danger in a way that they will take seriously while also maintaining their trust.
  3. Ask your school, youth group, scout group, or neighborhood to get involved and get educated. There are organizations and programs ready to help. 
  4. Practice e-monitoring of all of your children’s devices. Yes, I know that’s a lot of work. (I have 5 kids, remember?!) But the bad guys put in a lot of hours to steal our kids. We can put in the hours required to protect them. This means reading their texts and instant messages. But this also means looking at their apps. All of their apps. Even the seemingly innocent apps like their calculator which, FYI, can be a fake messaging app. 
  5. Know the signs of children who are being trafficked: If you child suddenly has new clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc that you did not purchase, they may be involved with trafficking. If your child has a phone that you didn’t purchase, this is a huge sign as traffickers like to communicate through accounts that parents cannot see. If your child always has an excuse for where he/she “needs” to go, is overly tired (more than usual), is having trouble sleeping, becomes extremely emotional or emotionally shuts down, seems anxious and fearful, or just seems that something is completely wrong, you need to investigate further to make sure your child is not being victimized by a human trafficker.
  6. If you see something, say something. Do not hesitate to call the Human Trafficking Hotline or your local police department. 

I know it might seem ridiculous to think that one of us could have a child who has been human trafficked. Our minds just don’t work that way. Our hearts refuse to believe it could happen to us. To our precious kids. But that doesn’t make it any less real. As parents and grandmas and aunts and friends, we have the opportunity to protect ourselves and our children from the monsters of human trafficking. Our friends, our siblings, our children, and the vulnerable among us deserve to be protected.

I’m ready to let it start with me. Are you?

,

86 Responses to Your Child Has Already Been Targeted: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Human Trafficking

  1. Avatar
    Lily October 10, 2019 at 2:11 pm #

    Hi Heather,

    Thanks for writing this important piece. I recently attended a talk on the same subject. It was presented by a cybersecurity professional and a FBI agent. I had no idea how prevelant human trafficking and online predators are.

    If anyone is interested in reading more on this subject, feel free to visit this post recapping the event: lilyotron.blog/2019/10/08/social-media-kids-and-human-trafficking

    • Avatar
      Kathy Kiesow January 17, 2020 at 5:25 pm #

      I’m concerned about the well organized machine how babies and young children 4,5,6, and up are targeted by CPS, and children are taken from good homes.This is huge, and the judges are involved so parents cannot have access to their children, or even know their whereabouts.It is a much bigger horror then we realize .

      • Avatar
        Anne January 22, 2020 at 2:41 pm #

        How
        valuable is the extra vigilance and concern if a mother aware of trafficking in our communities. Actions do convey concern to young people who are swayed by the easy attractions of new experience and expensive tchotchkes! Being a hover parent is importent sometimes. Prevention of the emotional pain is worth the effort.

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      Jessica January 19, 2020 at 2:12 pm #

      I’m a military wife and mother of 3 daughters. We were stationed in NC when my daughter ran away at 16 and became a victim of human trafficking. Unfortunately the community wasnt aware that there was such a huge problem with our Marines being targeted by predators and their daughters too. The base didnt know that their marines were in jeopardy dnd that they werent educated in human trafficking. I’ve had to watch my daughter suffer from the effects of being a victim for 5 years…it wasnt just because the was sold for sex…she endured addiction, violence, rape and trauma. She needs ALOT of help now …her life was ruined. The resources for these girls are hard to obtain.

      • Rachel Carpenter
        Rachel Carpenter January 19, 2020 at 7:11 pm #

        Thank you for sharing your story. We hope that your daughter and your family are getting all the help she needs now.

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    Vi October 10, 2019 at 7:23 pm #

    Thank you. It’s important to realize children are not being snatched out of grocery carts; rather kids are being groomed for trafficking through the devices we allow in our homes.

    • Avatar
      Sherri Thornton January 16, 2020 at 8:58 am #

      Great article. I am a forensic nurse who sees these patients in ERs. Readers should believe everything you have said, it’s true! Stay vigilant our kids are worth every minute spent protecting them!!!

  3. Avatar
    Nancy Childress December 12, 2019 at 6:26 pm #

    “ As parents and grandmas and aunts and friends, we have the opportunity to protect ourselves and our children from the monsters of human trafficking. ”
    Let’s not forget grandfathers, uncles, and fathers. I’m not sure why the male relationship was left out but it is of paramount importance that All family members be aware of this danger.

    • Heather Tabers
      Heather Tabers December 14, 2019 at 9:58 am #

      I didn’t address the male relationships in this article because I write for the Military Moms Blog. Our primary audience is women. So, I addressed women who are parents, grandmas, aunts, and friends. If I had been writing for a general audience of both men and women, I absolutely would have included them in this piece. We all have an important role to play in the fight against human trafficking.

    • Avatar
      KT. December 15, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

      Exactly! Right now I’m so pissed off at my fiancé! I share literature with everyone I know. As I was reading this article, I was talking to him about the seriousness of human trafficking. When I was speaking on how they’re going as far as wearing diapers so they don’t have to leave their computer, he started laughing, and said, I was spending too much time on this subject. I became so upset about this remark, because it proves what I have been saying. People think it only happens to people they see on the news or read about, not to them until it actually hits their home!!! Never thought someone this close to me would say this to me! The thought of this happening to a child or anyone is heartbreaking!.

      • Avatar
        Karla S January 13, 2020 at 5:56 am #

        Is he covering something up? Has he been trafficked or abused in some way? I think you need to delve into this. I see a red flag.

        • Avatar
          Beverly January 15, 2020 at 8:27 am #

          I don’t see a “red flag”. I think he laughed at the fact that their are sick people in this world, that they would go to the extent of wearing a diaper! I just think he doesn’t realize the severity of it! He laughed at the fact that a man would sit in a diaper!! That thought alone turns my stomach! I am in shock at the number of SICK people in this world!

          • Avatar
            Melinda January 21, 2020 at 11:31 am #

            I can tell you why parents give cell phones to kids…..for protection!!! Last year my 6 year old grandson was put on a bus to ride home, he and his brothers have ALWAYS been picked up by myself or my daughter. The sub teacher totally ignored his pleas that he gets picked up!! He ended up getting kicked off the bus at the last stop by the bus driver. The place he was dropped off at had just had a shooting the day before. He is 6 and in a strange area to him. Not to mention that it is one of the busiest streets in our city!!! The school refused to call the police….not their policy!!! So while my daughter was calling the police, I was rounding up all our relatives to look for him. He was found an hour later standing in the middle of the intersection bawling by a very sweet mother on her way to pick up her son. She called the police and waited with them until we got to him. Our town has OVER 500 sex offenders in it. That is just the registered ones. We just had an 8th grader molest a 6 th grader in the school bathroom!! Took 2 hours before the parents were notified!!! You want to know why my grandsons, age 7, 8 and 11, have phones….read above again!!! My grandsons have their phones everyday they go to school. If something happens, we will know right away!! Had my grandson had his phone then my daughter could have found his location immediately….not have to wait an hour for someone to find him!! We will do whatever it takes to protect my grandsons!! They only get their phones for school. They know we are a phone call away if something happens. My daughter and I can make it to the school in 3 minutes, faster if need be!! I can’t speak for anyone else but I feel some sense of security knowing they have them if needed. I just pray they never need them!!! In our city, the schools aren’t safe!! We have had middle school kids bring guns and knifes to school, teachers and custodians arrested for molesting kids, stabbings, teachers selling drugs. We have it all here. We have a huge trafficking problem here too. Numerous kids are missing and presumed in the trade. It’s scary and the cops can only do so much. I refuse to let my grandsons become a statistic. I will do everything to protect them that I can!!!

        • Avatar
          Eve January 18, 2020 at 12:36 pm #

          I think the immediate concern isn’t whether or not something happened to him, it’s that he was dismissive of your feelings regarding the matter. Please think twice before committing your life to someone who dismissed your concerns even if it’s subtle. A lifetime is a long time to spend with someone who doesn’t value your opinion.

      • Avatar
        Dez Crawford January 14, 2020 at 12:57 pm #

        I see a red flag, too. A man who laughs at such a thing is either suppressing something that happened to him, or he is so callous that I would question continuing a relationship with him. I see a whole pile of red flags here. Good luck.

      • Avatar
        Elle January 15, 2020 at 8:27 am #

        Men typically don’t see the severity of the issue. I mean it does sound ridiculous to hear that a man would sit in a diaper for hours just to talk to children on the internet. Also keep in mind they think we over react as women. I would talk to him, definitely, as he may have been traumatized in his past in some way and doesn’t want to talk about it. You k ow your fiancé, these people don’t, so don’t go seeing red flags because of one comment you made about him. This is a serious topic and it needs to be talked about. Show home the research and statistics. Men need facts, not a blog post written by a mom…don’t get me wrong, we need people to keep writing blog posts and keeping other people informed on the severity of the problem.

        • Avatar
          Jenn January 16, 2020 at 8:22 am #

          Yes, thank you for this reply to this woman!

      • Avatar
        Roberta January 17, 2020 at 11:51 am #

        I am so sorry your fiancé was dismissive of something that you are taking very seriously. That’s hard… and confusing, especially when you have committed to being life partners. I am guessing this incident felt isolating.

        Not sure I’d be suspicious that has a past of being violated himself, or covering something up because of his reaction, like some others said. (Maybe… many of us has been sexually taken advantage of, not rare). But perhaps he is tired of reactionary news and media. Or, like another poster said, men sometimes think women over-react. Perhaps, he is just uninformed about the issue. But at the core, it was an obvious disconnect between you two. Hope you are getting good support as you navigate your relationship.

    • Avatar
      kristine January 15, 2020 at 12:30 pm #

      were does it address any kind of mother of father lol

  4. Avatar
    Sylvia December 14, 2019 at 8:46 am #

    Thank you for this great article! I worked with a survivor to create a workbook for kids and families about human trafficking and how to avoid falling victim. https://www.amazon.com/Avoiding-Octopus-Standing-Against-Trafficking/dp/1984299212/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?keywords=avoiding+the+octopus&qid=1576334553&sprefix=avoiding+the+oct&sr=8-1

    Please learn all you can and say something if you suspect something! 888-3737-888 (National HT hotline)

    • Avatar
      Monica January 15, 2020 at 7:58 pm #

      Thank you!! For making this & sharing about it. Just purchased one for my kids.

  5. Avatar
    Vanessa December 14, 2019 at 1:26 pm #

    You can change the settings on Facebook so you cannot receive friend requests unless they are friends of friends. It’s just one more way to protect yourself and your kids.

    • Avatar
      Mary Holmes December 29, 2019 at 8:46 am #

      Vanessa let me tell you where there is a will there is a way. One of the guys I went to school with who was on my friends list because I graduated with his has been arrested for this so even if its someone you know OR think you know still may be one.

  6. Avatar
    Kim S. December 14, 2019 at 3:11 pm #

    Heather, I am working on a curriculum for foster parents. Would you allow me to use your 7 Things about Trafficking in my training. I would gladly give you credit. I would just put a link to your site but I have found that over the years links become inactive and we lose wonderful training material.

    • Rachel Carpenter
      Rachel Carpenter December 14, 2019 at 5:39 pm #

      Hi Kim!

      We would love to have Heather’s article used for your training material. I will send you an email, so be on the lookout. Thanks!

  7. Avatar
    cjack December 14, 2019 at 9:24 pm #

    You forgot one important source of traffickers: ministers. There have been how many ministers arrested in the last 3 months for trafficking children. What a betrayal using the guise of faith.

  8. Avatar
    Angelique Foster December 15, 2019 at 7:38 am #

    Thank you so much for writing this! We had a very scary situation come about this past May! My daughter (10 at the time) was contacted on a GAME (Roblox) and asked to use the Discord App to talk with someone. The person turned in to two people, a “brother and sister” and they chatted for a while, saying they were just older than her. I would ask and she would just say she was talking to her friend “Jen”. They ended up wanting to meet her and even had her convinced that the boy was her boyfriend. Sent explicit pictures but only asked for a picture of her face and her arms, which I thought was strange. My daughter told them our address, the garage pass code, where to park and to sneak in her window. I found the messages and was sickened. We called the police. The trooper who came to our house was very nice but he said it was very difficult to find people on the internet and also that you had to prove that person actually stroked the keys to be able to take any kind of legal recourse against them since IP addresses can be routed through anywhere and they can be fabricated. Long story short, my daughter is now restricted from all non-essential internet access at home and at school. When I told her people lie about who they are on the internet and that people steal kids for slavery, sex, and even worse, she didn’t believe me. It’s very sad and I feel that schools should have a mandatory course in this. Thank you again for writing this!

    • Avatar
      Barbara Green January 15, 2020 at 12:01 am #

      I have attended a few workshops on human trafficking in the past 10 years. One thing that shocked me was that male-drawing events like the superbowl and political conventions are where a lot of victims of sex trafficking are taken and put to work.

      • Avatar
        Tammy Anderson January 22, 2020 at 12:34 pm #

        I myself was molested as a very young child of 4 til I was about 10!. My stepdad groomed me ! My mom had no idea ! When I came forward my mom didn’t know what to think ! They sent me to stay at my stepdads Mother’s house while school was out for the summer! No one called the police, nothing happened to my step father! I went back home when school was starting ! The subject was never brought up again ! My stepdad asked me if I wanted to again I said no it is wrong ! He asked me one more time if I was into when I was 14 years old! I said no again ! The worst part is I had know idea he had molested my sisters! The never spoke up until 4 years ago and 3 years ago! They thought I was such a strong personality! I think my stepdad also molested my friends who spent a lot of time staying with us .

    • Avatar
      Jeanie January 15, 2020 at 1:38 am #

      Frightening indeed? Did u ask the police to tell her the dangers of these connections?

    • Avatar
      Tony Bernardo January 16, 2020 at 8:24 am #

      Wow, that is scary. I hope you can find a way to explain it to her in a way she doesn’t dismiss, because this sounds like exactly the kind of alarming behavior one would expect from a trafficker. Good luck!

    • Avatar
      Debbie January 16, 2020 at 7:10 pm #

      Did you report the officer ? It sounds like they should have immediately connected you to the sex crimes division or some other authority. It also seems to me this was a perfect situation for a sting operation to arrest these people. They could have taken your daughter & family out of the home & replaced you all with seasoned officers. How are we supposed to protect our children if this is the kind of response we get from an officer ? I myself, believe I’ve encountered at least two young ladies who were in trouble. One at a hotel I was staying at & another I picked up in the pouring rain & drove to a bus stop (not wise, I know). I was with my grandchildren during the hotel situation, they thought I was being silly. There were two rooms full of migrant men doing roofing in the town & it was obviously pay day. An older man & woman were parading this beautiful little black girl around the pool area which was directly in front of their room veranda’s. To this day, I have no doubt I was right but ten years ago I DNK know what to do. The little girl at the bus stop told me she was cleaning offices late & needed to get two buses to get home to her ‘Daddy’; She was too scared to tell me anything more.

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      Deanna January 26, 2020 at 1:21 pm #

      My son plays Roblox. I blocked him on everything that comes to chatting. I actually do it on my phone. I went to the website and blocked anything from coming in and out. Also blocked him on friend requests. It amazes me how many apps have chat features. Google chatting apps and a bunch will come up. Ones you don’t think trafficers can reach children on…
      Good job at catching what was going on. Something worse could have happened had you not found out..

  9. Avatar
    Paula Trent December 15, 2019 at 5:11 pm #

    Oh, so so scary!! I qm so glad you intervened! As a mother of several daughters (now young women, and most have children), I have been through some awful times as well. I am so thankful we still have all of them; there were some close calls. I also had some issues with a daughter trusting the unsafe people more than me. Please do sll that you can to spend lots of important time with her, building as close and trusting relationship as you can. If I could go back, I would skip other involvements to focus more on my daughters, encouraging them to talk about anything, and building closeness. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that at 10, she has many more years of growing into more freedoms, and she so needs all the wisdom and support she can get. She is blessed to have a mom who is diligent!

    • Avatar
      Liz January 15, 2020 at 8:10 am #

      Such wonderful wisdom, thank you for sharing.

  10. Avatar
    Tiwanna December 15, 2019 at 5:39 pm #

    These victims who are trafficked “in plain sight” carry shame and fear and feel they have no option but to do as they’re told. They’re often good girls that go to your kids’ school, or your church, or live in your neighborhood. They’re not usually the girls living on the streets that you “expect” to get “caught up” in such a lifestyle. They are girls who are loved. Cared for. Respected. It’s a great read until that is said. No one regardless to what level of life they’re in deserves it.

    • Avatar
      Billi January 18, 2020 at 3:03 pm #

      Thats the reason she used the “quotes”. To emphasize there is no stereotype that falls victim…all can become victims.

  11. Avatar
    TB December 15, 2019 at 6:49 pm #

    I monitor my daughters phone almost daily. Two weeks ago she left her phone open and I went through it at a time she wasn’t expecting. She had an instagram account I didn’t know about. Apparently she was deleting it at night when I had her give me her phone. But not only did she have Instagram but snap as well. She had befriended a person on snap who she did not know after telling her 10000000 times not to. Who CLEARLY was in the beginning stages of grooming her. They had been friends for 2 days according to the snap profile. And this person was well on their way to attempting to gain all her information. I still don’t know how much she told them bc she swears she didn’t tell them anything. But I took her phone and played along for a few hours. Then I “lost my sh**” and went off on them. Probably not the best thing to do. But I took her phone and contacted some friends of mine at the sheriffs office who basically told me the person unfortunately had not crossed the line up to that point. Needless to say, my daughter is not allowed out of my house. And I pray to GOD that she did not tell this person any personal information that she’s not telling me about.
    This can happen to the most diligent of parents. No one is safe. Now I worry for my daughters safety even more.

    • Avatar
      Sharon Albrecht, RN December 16, 2019 at 8:49 am #

      Telling kids what to do can just make them rebel and be more curious. The most important thing you can do is listening and letting her know she can tell you anything. Then she will trust you more than an unsafe person. It also helps to remember that live is the strongest power. 😇

      • Avatar
        Billi January 18, 2020 at 3:13 pm #

        Yes! Thank u Sharon. I was thinking the same as i read this comment. As an angry reb teen this heavy handedness wouldve had me sneakin out my window. Bc lets face it, as teens we were capable of being as dumb as a box of rocks. Im not privy as to why so im not judging the methods i just know that when it was my turn i talked to my daughter A LOT. We built a level of trust still there today as she is an adult w her own ‘baby’. And she will be the 1st to tell u that even tho we were great friends as she grew up i was 1st n foremost ‘Mom’ n no pushover.

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    Sharon Albrecht, RN December 16, 2019 at 8:52 am #

    Oops. Love is the strongest power!

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    Amie December 16, 2019 at 10:40 am #

    Very accurate, thanks for a great article. Every parent needs to know this information.

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    Curtis Carson December 18, 2019 at 6:31 am #

    Yes every parent need to know about this information

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    Txmommy65 December 18, 2019 at 11:13 am #

    Honestly, we can’t be too careful. Our children are being bombarded. My high school daughter has had someone trying to get her to send pictures and claimed some other girl had already posted unknown pictures of her from gym class. And if she didn’t send pictures, they would circulate what they claimed they already had.

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    Laura December 19, 2019 at 10:45 am #

    Actually, they are being snatched out of carts, and right out of parents arms. Many videos show this.

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      Deanna January 26, 2020 at 1:35 pm #

      Exactly, I have seen videos where a mom’s back is turned for a second and a man comes up and grabs her toddler out of the cart. It happens.
      My son was a VERY adorable baby and toddler. (Not being bias)but we always had people coming up to us and wanting to touch him and talk to him. I never went to the store alone. He was always strapped in and I was always hovering over him. It became such an issue that I would just go to the store without him.
      It was scary… He is now 10y. Still a cute kid. But I still hover… I tell him things about strangers. Public bathrooms freak me out. He is to yell and scream if someone touches him or tries anything.

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    Cupcakequeen1981 December 20, 2019 at 9:23 am #

    I will never understand why parents allow their children to have cell phones! Our children will not have cellphones until they’re 16 and even then it will be calls and text only. no Internet access on the phone.
    Why take the risk? Its not worth it.
    Other than looking information up for school projects which can be done on the family computer, I can’t see any good reason for kids to be on the Internet. It may be fun but it’s not necessary.

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      Momof5 December 22, 2019 at 9:58 pm #

      We have 5 children. We didn’t give them cell phones until they started working and driving, and then they were basic flip phones. No internet. But then I found out that my ex husband had given my 2 older sons smart phones, because he (and the boys) didn’t think the flip phones were good enough. Luckily, we live way out in the woods with no cell phone service, and we always just used the computer for internet access, so no wifi. My oldest son still managed to get into trouble with that stupid cell phone that his father gave him, even though he only had it when he went to work during the day. Now he is in the Marine Corps, and I really pray hard for him. Then, the next son down moved down to live with their father when he turned 17. He and his cell phone are inseperable, and I am afraid he is going to end up in trouble. I just heard from him yesterday for the first time in about a month, and he said he was up in Utah visiting a “friend”. It is some guy that he met online. He, his girlfriend, and her twin brother seem to go a whole lot of places to meet people that they have”met” online recently.

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      Dorothy Gohagan January 8, 2020 at 12:51 pm #

      I totally agree. Society has made it out to be such a necessity for children 10 an younger to have cell phones. A necessary evil, I think. There is no rhime or reason for our young, teenage children to have phones. If they need their parents, they will find a way to get them. We had no problem, getting intouch, why is it so different for kids today. ? Satan, has always turned good into evil. . Thank you for this post, IAM sending it along.

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      Heather January 15, 2020 at 7:07 am #

      I completely agree! Why are we giving children cell phones at all? Especially with access to the internet. I am a mom of a 10 year old and 8 year old and they don’t even want phones. In my opinion the risks completely outweigh the benefits and we need to get kids away from cell phones and into books, art, playing with kids their age, sports, etc.
      Why do parents feel the need to give their kids phones??? I don’t understand.

    • Avatar
      Nancy January 16, 2020 at 8:30 am #

      You do know if your child has a job/money they can but throw away phones at school for $25. When parents ground kids from phones, or don’t allow them, they get them anyway.

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    Mary Warmbrod January 8, 2020 at 3:44 pm #

    Thanks for all the info about tactics of targeting & dangers of cell phones.

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    Becky Moline January 14, 2020 at 1:46 pm #

    I am very interested in volunteering to help in recovery of those who have been victims of human trafficking.
    My husband does not like me reading and studying these things, I think he feels that it will depress me. I believe it would give a retired nurse case manager a “purpose”.
    I was told by someone who has been in the military special forces that it is dangerous to even email about this because the criminals monitor tis. What are your organizations’ thoughts on this?
    Thank you for your time.

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    Shawn January 14, 2020 at 3:46 pm #

    Parents beware!!! You can also get and send private messages in Pinterest too!!! I learned this the hard way!!!

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      Elle January 15, 2020 at 8:38 am #

      Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Roblox, Minecraft, and the list goes on and on! It’s insane how many apps there are they can use to target children.

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    Stephen Tenison January 14, 2020 at 10:10 pm #

    The churches (all of them) have been involved to some extent. A group of teenagers on my daughters bus (2 males and 1 female) tried to draw my daughter into it. Luckily she was so innocent that she came home and told me she wanted to try and have sex. Then when I told her exactly what they were trying to do to her, she stopped talking and started protecting the sickos.

    • Avatar
      Karen January 16, 2020 at 8:17 am #

      Sounds like it was the teens, not “all of the churches”. Not everybody who goes to church is a person who can be trusted with your kids! But, from my personal experience, many of them are.

      No matter where our kids are or who they are with, parents need to be vigilant. Buses are particularly vulnerable places as there is usually only one adult who is busy driving.

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    Janet January 15, 2020 at 5:59 am #

    Another great resource is Operation Underground Railroad led by Tim Ballard. He is a former Special Agent for the Department of Homeland Security. http://ourrescue.org/ “We exist to rescue children from sex trafficking.”
    They have education, aftercare support, work with law enforcement across the globe and here in the US to arrest traffickers and rescue children, and so much more.

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    Dee January 15, 2020 at 8:36 am #

    I am interested in taking a course in social media to understand how to access these apps and what to look for. Does anyone know of anything like that?

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      Marni January 17, 2020 at 8:41 am #

      I think an excellent resource would be simple instructions to set limitations on different apps and technology. Everything you get on is different, so I feel like I’m working a new maze every time.

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    Gerri L Hicks January 15, 2020 at 10:20 am #

    In your article you recommended turning to Scout Groups to help, you may want to check some facts on that one because I personally know of a huge problem with that. A Boy Scout leader well connected with the church that sponsored this particular pack, the leader was arrested and convicted of child pornography and other charges, his home where his wife and young daughters lived were searched and all electronics confiscated because he was using them for child pornography and communication. The church affiliated with the Pack paid to send the man out of the country to escape the law, he was housed in another country where they church had property to hide him out. This is not the only incident of child sexual abuse/pornography that I have been personally associated with the was perpetrated by those in charge at a Scout organization.

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      Marni January 17, 2020 at 8:45 am #

      The vast majority of people involved in scouting are good people. It is a requirement for adult leaders to take youth protection training (about an hour online), and it is a requirement for the children and youth involved to discuss how to prevent child abuse using a booklet attached inside their handbook.

      There are bad apples no matter what tree you’re looking in, but scouting really is trying to be diligent about preventing it, more than any other group for children and youth that I know of.

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    Laurie Terrall January 15, 2020 at 12:47 pm #

    Thank you for this very important information. I was a social worker for many years, and the number of children who have been victimized in multiple ways is appalling. I know you’re writing about trafficking, however I would also encourage moms, aunts, grandmas, friends to also watch for signs of child sexual abuse that doesn’t involve trafficking. As with trafficking, please be aware that the perpetrator can be anyone-a teacher, pastor, family member, neighbor, etc. of all of the women I worked with who were working their way out of public assistance, 99.9% of them had been sexually abused as children-boys and girls.

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    EllieW January 15, 2020 at 1:43 pm #

    Great article. I appreciate being informed, and how to stay informed. Thank you!

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    Beth January 15, 2020 at 3:23 pm #

    This is such a HUGE issue and feels so overwhelming. Don’t think that it’s just young children or teens either. My own daughter was targeted at age 23 at a grocery store. As much as I have tried to teach my children about being careful, they still have to make those decisions “in the moment”.
    She was approached by a young woman who asked her for a ride back to her home to get money for groceries. The woman started opening my daughter’s passenger door as she spoke all at once and my daughter didn’t know what to do. She is very kind and generous and at times, too naive. The woman’s story didn’t make sense but I think in the moment my daughter was so taken by surprise and didn’t want to be rude that she complied. Now I have taught her better than that but I’m just saying, sometimes it just takes you by surprise and you do things you wouldn’t normally do. She later told me she was just trying to do what Jesus would do. Please hear me when I tell you I am all for helping out people who are homeless and such but there are avenues and safe ways to do that.
    Long story short, the girl had her take her somewhere else 1st to do something and my daughter was waiting outside in her car. Thank God she called me. She asked me what to do and before she could finish I was SCREAMING at her to GET THE H*** OUT Of THERE! I yelled “Leave! Leave NOW!” The whole thing was obviously a set up for someone else to come take my daughter. I haven’t told the whole story but it was very obvious that the woman was bringing my daughter somewhere for no good. She was already at the store. Why would she need to go back home to get her money and how did she get there in the 1st place? And why did she go somewhere else 1st?? She was inside for over 5 minutes before my daughter called. I’m telling you my daughter was very very lucky!
    She asked me later what could she do since the lady was getting into her car? I told her that she should drop everything and run back inside to get help. These are the types of things they will do to catch one off guard.
    I realize this was not an internet type of thing. But it is happening everywhere all hours of the day in parking lots in plain site. Kids at school are ‘working’ and being sold as sex slaves every day. It’s unthinkable. I’m terrified for my kids’ children. I don’t know how we can possibly keep up. Educating our kids is paramount and keeping open lines of communication. Trying to monitor every single thing on every single device is just impossible and so daunting. Unfortunately they have to have devices for school. Teachers use texting as ways to communicate and if they don’t have a smart phone it’s almost impossible for them to keep up in school. Believe me I was absolutely one of those parents that didn’t give their child a smart phone till 16 and even then had it blocked for internet use. But by the time my son was in high school it was obvious he needed one. And it needed internet access. Again, I just don’t know what the solution is. I had all kinds of software on their phones and computers and still they had access to all kinds of stuff. There are ways around it and I find it’s impossible to keep up. Thankfully my son is open and told me about being contacted in games. He ignored them and blocks them but stuff is happening constantly. At the end of the day, I think we have to have that communication line open, be as vigilant as possible and pray for our children’s safety.

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    Vincent Dolce January 15, 2020 at 6:18 pm #

    I don’t have any children but I am so concerned about this it makes me sick to my stomach whenever I read about a missing child the one thing that I thought you had mentioned and you never did was about putting a tracking device on your child so that if he or she is taking you may have an idea of where they are if I had children I would put two tracking devices on them not one

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    Lynne Jarvis January 15, 2020 at 7:34 pm #

    It will only get worse as time marches on! My daughters didn’t listen to me and had their brushes with terror 🙁 Now they are adult women with children of their own but they have their memories and scars! Thankfully they are still alive!!

    Is there anyone doing similar work near Calgary, Alberta Canada

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    John Kreese January 15, 2020 at 9:58 pm #

    Parents, please stop giving your kids smartphones and allowing them to have unfettered access to the internet. They simply don’t need them and the dangers are many – predators, inappropriate material, social media addiction, etc. Get them off of the screens and make them play outside in the real world.

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      Tina January 16, 2020 at 11:06 pm #

      I feel like this comment is not effective. If anything, it seems condescending and makes me want to exit this article and discussion and move on. You may want to help but, it might be doing more harm than good. Maybe try an approach with love and not shame.

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      Mary Knowles January 18, 2020 at 5:26 pm #

      With all do respect, some do need the smartphones, as they have apps for checking and monitoring serious medical conditions. Also, much of the schoolwork given today is online. In areas where power is lost due to snow and other inclement weather, smart phones with data are necessary. However, you are absolutely right about not allowing “unfettered” internet access.

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    Jennifer Hiatt January 16, 2020 at 12:09 am #

    Many thanks for making us aware! God bless you!

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    Francesca January 16, 2020 at 12:13 am #

    Wow, so well written!!! I have a nonprofit in CA (humansave.org) that works with survivors and their families. This is one of the most accurate, heartfelt, and useful articles I have ever come across about human trafficking. Definitely sharing with partner organizations—thank you for writing this, and Bravo to the couple who have dedicated their lives to spreading awareness and investing in real rehabilitation for survivors!

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    AR January 16, 2020 at 1:27 pm #

    I have worked with many high school students in a church small group atmosphere and I also worked at a therapeutic boarding school (and I was a teacher for 10 years). I am 30, younger than most of their parents, and became like a big sister they could trust and talk to. I want to share something with the parents of teenagers here. They are not telling you everything, no matter how close you are. You can be the best parent in the world, monitor what they do, who they communicate with and what they have access to, but they will still find a way. You may have a straight A student, who shows no interest in dating, is a leader in her school, and not allowed to have a cell phone or any social media accounts. Well guess what? Her good friend does, and at lunch she’s using it in the bathroom to log into her secret snap or IG account to communicate with her “online friends”. I have witnessed this 1000x over in my job and volunteer work. You can’t protect them from everything, no matter how hard you try. You CAN do your best to prepare them and have open communication. At the end of the day, no matter how good of kids you have raised, they don’t tell you everything. I became a SG leader and dedicated the last 10 years to working with teens because I had a young woman, who was not my mom, that I felt I could trust and talk to about these things that my mom just “wouldn’t understand”. I listened to her advice, which was the same as my moms in most cases, but it seemed more relatable when it came from her because she was younger, more in touch, she “understood me”. Your kids need a mentor, someone who they and you can trust, as well as their parents. They need someone else they can talk to about these things without feeling like they’re going to get in trouble or lose privileges.

    • Avatar
      Cherusha Davies January 19, 2020 at 1:22 am #

      Thank you for this comment as a young adult my self I really appreciate someone who understands rules and less freedom dosen’t not encourage your children to be open with you about anything. I do think educating your kids on this kind if stuff is the key and make sure they do have someone they feel comfortable talking to is important

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    Tina January 16, 2020 at 11:09 pm #

    Thank-you for this reply. For some reason, I will be more vigilant after reading your reply. Thank-you. My son is a straight A student who attends a Christian School so I tend to not check up on him as much but that will change…

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    Louise January 17, 2020 at 6:37 am #

    It is a tragedy that it is happening right now and we are imagining low life middle age men (because of movies) and it is a network of powerful charming rich men that control the movie industry, politics and rule making process.
    I travel abroad a lot with kids and it is nearly impossible to enter a flight or check in a hotel abroad without showing IDs that prove that my babies are my own children but all around the United States I was never asked for a child ID, I even got into flights without showing my son’s ID. That lack of ruling or procedures only benefits sex trafficking. They are able to cross the country using hotels and even fly with them.

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    Maria January 17, 2020 at 10:58 am #

    This is yet one more reason why I’m so dead set against children and teens having cell phones. I don’t understand why parents think it necessary for their kids to have one. They say it’s for safety reasons, when in reality it’s actually used 99.9% of the time for leisure. Not to mention it’s actually not safe, since it can put their kids in danger of being contacted by human traffickers. My eight year old has been bugging me to get her a cell phone for the last couple of years and I explained why I wouldn’t put her in harms way by getting her a cell phone. She may not fully understand what I’ve explained to her, but I’m still not going to give her something that is essentially virtual cocaine. She doesn’t need to stumble into something inappropriate and then someone has access to her.

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    William Johnstone Taylor January 17, 2020 at 11:28 am #

    I am the author of the book “Stolen Angels”! It’s sold through Amazon. It deals with the abductions of children in the Central Florida area. As a Private Investigator for nearly fifty years I have worked from Merritt Island, Orlando and Deland. I find your Blog interesting and important! I wrote my book as fiction but in hopes of reaching the parents and children of the world as to what to watch for! I’ll gladly send you a copy of your interested!

    Thank you for your help in this area of concern !

    William Johnstone Taylor, LPI

  38. Avatar
    Debbie Burkhardt January 18, 2020 at 7:08 pm #

    I believe there is a huge problem on Mackinac Island

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    Aubrey January 19, 2020 at 1:02 am #

    High five, sister! Thank you for the article. It’s so important to get the info out there. I am a former fed who investigated child sex crimes, including child pornography. And this was just military members. It was a real eye-opener to see how prevalent it is in the military alone. Because of that experience, I already became aware and informed my daughter. As well as monitored just in case. But prior to my experience having to see the worst people can do to children, I had no idea how evil people could be. I appreciate your article because it gets it out to people so they don’t have to learn from the very unfortunate circumstances. Every parent should know. Definitely sharing.

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    John Dalbey Sr January 19, 2020 at 8:51 am #

    Perhaps awareness would increase and the issue be taken more seriously if we started calling it what it really is, “slavery”.
    Trafficking the victims is a sub-component of the real evil. These precious creations are slaves. And America is guilty once again for turning a blind eye. Slavery is alive and well in America and it does not discriminate. It’s victims aren’t only Africans. They are from all nationalities, both genders, and all ages. And it isn’t just the plantation owner that is committing this evil. Rich and poor alike are having sex with 4 year old boys, stealing their innocence, destroying their mental health.
    Slavery! Slaves! Let’s change the narrative.

  41. Avatar
    Carolyn johns January 19, 2020 at 2:06 pm #

    Wow, this was very informative.. i once belonged to a church where the pastor refused to pray for immigrant children stating “it brings politics into church”. This is not politics it is human trafficking and they need our help! Will pray for the Pastor and these children,

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    David W. Proctor January 20, 2020 at 3:06 pm #

    Thank you for providing such an informative narrative and for shedding light on this horrifically disgusting situation. As a father, grandfather, scout leader, human being, Christian I am in favor of taking any and all steps to rid our country and our planet of this plague and the people who support, profit from, and are involved in human trafficking. GOD bless you for all you’ve already done and are doing to hinder, slow down, and stop this.

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    Cindy January 20, 2020 at 5:07 pm #

    I feel ashamed of myself, I did not know what to do in August 2019, for what I saw at a public Rest Stop on I-90. I was waiting for my Grandsons at the entrance, when a young girl between 13 to 16 walked out the Men’s Room. She was notably embarrassed for me to see her, promptly disappeared out a side door. Not a couple minutes after, a man in his 60s walked out. I was horrified & sickened! I didn’t want to scare our boys, and they never saw anything. I told my husband on the way home, but we didn’t know what to do. The girl looked like any pretty young average looking teenager. She was dressed nice. The Restroom doors of the Men’s Room & Women’s Room were well marked AND both open! This was clearly not a mistake, for making a wrong turn, from the look on her face when her eyes met mine! I had nightmares for days about this! I still feel sick for how naive I was, not taking some kind of action. I truly didn’t know what to do. She disappeared so fast, I was in shock at what just transpired while my grandsons were using that Restroom!

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    Kay January 28, 2020 at 1:26 pm #

    Heather, would you allow us to use this additional information within our human trafficking class that we provide to children 6-17yo and their parents? Everyone does need to be aware that their children are being targeted right in plain sight and your article gives a great breakdown. Thank you for working to get awareness out there!

    • Rachel Carpenter
      Rachel Carpenter January 29, 2020 at 12:02 pm #

      Hi Kay! Can you please email me at [email protected] to discuss this further? We are so pleased that you would like to use Heather’s piece and information!

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