FIVE POINT PLAN
Protect Your Youth from Sexual Exploitation
1. Build up child’s self-esteem and morals
Developing a strong emotional connection with your child is crucial so you can be that safe person your child will naturally want to go to for questions and counsel. Knowing you love him/her unconditionally and will be there for them no matter what, will enable your child to trust you with their heart and struggles.
a. Relationship: Seek ways to build a positive emotional connection with your child by spending quality 1:1 time with him/her and by being a good listener. Practice active listening and seek to validate their feelings first before giving them advice. Foster positive and fun conversations during meal times with your child (for example by showing interest in how their day went). Avoid ‘correcting’ or arguing.
b. Activities: Have your children get involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, art, dance, or music ideally according to their interests.
Make time for FUN activities with your child (it could be going out on an ice-cream date, play a board game, go to a movie, see the sunset at the beach, go out for a meal 1:1 etc.)- never underestimate the power of having fun moments with your child in building a positive connection with them. This will foster their desire to spend more time with you.
c. Personal Faith: Get involved as a family in a loving church community and find ways to encourage and mentor your children to grow in their personal faith. Explore with your children which services/church activities they want to get involved in (i.e. praise and worship, mission work, etc.) and support them in joining. Pray with and for your child regularly.
d. Affirmations: Affirm your child with positive words of love, affirmation and value. Make positive ‘deposits into your child’s life by investing quality time, blessing them with gifts (it doesn’t have to be expensive as it could be their favorite candy bar), giving them hugs, and doing something kind to serve them. Discover the way your child receives love the best and seek to show love to them in that way as much as possible.
e. Teach your Children and Youth: Engage in heart to heart conversations with your children and youth regarding what is right and wrong. Show them empathy and teach them ways to express empathy to others. Share your life experiences vulnerably with your child in age-appropriate ways to connect heart to heart and to mentor them in life issues.
2. CREATE A SAFE SPACE FOR DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS
It’s important to have an ongoing, open, and honest dialogue with your children about these issues - it’s not a one-time conversation, and you don’t have to talk about everything at once. You don’t want to evoke great fear in them, but you do want them to be aware and gain wisdom. Listen more than you speak. As adults we want to keep our children safe, but we can’t be with them all the time. Children need information about the realities of abuse and trafficking, so they are aware of their personal safety and know what to do if they sense something just doesn’t ‘feel right.’ As adults, we can communicate our care and be a safe person to come to for questions or if something happens.
Children also need information about what is healthy regarding personal boundaries, consent, relationships, and sexuality. Help your child identify their feelings and indicators of healthy relationships. Help them to recognize when someone is not honoring their boundaries and wishes (use age-appropriate examples they can relate to). Remind them that if someone does harm them, it is never their fault and you will believe them.
Assure your child that it is ok to say, “No.”
Tell your child to tell you immediately if something happens. Assure them to not be fearful of getting in trouble - even if they made bad choices! Remind them you are for them and want to be there to support and love them through any circumstance!
a. Encourage your youth to talk with you or a caring adult about their questions, and/or troubling or confusing circumstances.
Help your child/youth identify loving, wise, trustworthy adults in their life who they can turn to for support in addition to parents.
Learn ways to foster a shame-free culture in your family where your home is a safe place to talk about anything without being judged - if you don’t know the answers, you can discover answers together!
b. Start discussing human sexuality and other relevant topics early and frequently in age appropriate ways. Discuss topics such as sex, abuse, drugs, suicide and sex trafficking. Take courage to bring up these topics and enjoy the interactions - these should not be a ‘dreaded’ conversations! Stay calm, composed and as natural as can be. You want your child to come to you for questions they have on any subject
Find resources to help you to discuss these topics with your child. If you don’t mentor you child/youth in sexuality, their friends or our culture will.
Discuss topics briefly with your child in ‘teachable moments’ in addition to planned discussion times. Teachable moments happen unexpectedly such as after watching a movie scene, while watching a news story, or experiencing a certain situation together.
c. How to respond if/when your child/youth discloses that they were trafficked (or about anything