The Sound of...Common Sense (Sex Trafficking Facts)

Sex trafficking, particularly in the context of children being exploited sexually, has been at the forefront of conversations lately and with good reason--it's a serious problem that deserves a serious response. However, in the midst of having meaningful, goal directed discussions on how to help eliminate this issue a lot of BAD information has been thrown into the mix. In this blog I want to offer people informed and sound means of empowering themselves and their families against not only trafficking and abuse, but also misinformation. 
It's incredibly frustrating to see people completely misunderstand the complexities and nuance of trafficking and succumb to sensationalized misinformation. Did you know that a lot of the research regarding trafficking can be misleading? Check out this research article that posits we need better methods of investigation with regards to reporting trafficking.  People are living in fear when they could be living with knowledge and empowerment on how to protect their loved ones, especially their children. So,  if you’re jazzed about child trafficking here are some concrete efforts you can make within your own family system;
1. Understand that juvenile sex trafficking is often perpetrated by someone the child has close contact with

The image of the man hiding in the bushes or following you in a shopping center are scare tactics that don’t reflect the true nuance of childhood abuse/sex trafficking. In a previous blog I discussed the significance of vulnerabilities present in a child's life as a major contributor to a child being victimized--the same concept exists here. If a family is struggling to make ends meet, they may be enticed to consider exploitation as a means of survival. If they lack the appropriate resources and support from the community they are exceptionally vulnerable to predators that perpetuate sexual trafficking. The polaris project reports, "Recruitment by family members and intimate partners was highly reported for all forms of trafficking. While this is the case year over year, it was particularly pronounced in 2020."  (click here to read more stats)

2. You can learn more about juvenile sex trafficking by visiting A website dedicated to providing statistics, resources and connection to local agencies that support survivors of trafficking. 
3. You can start talking to your child about their body.
Ask your child who is and is not allowed to touch their body and assist your child in naming their body parts according to their anatomical name (penis, vagina, vulva, etc). Remind your child that they should not be keeping secrets with other adults and that they can always talk to you if something bad has happened. 
4. Continue that conversation and answer your child’s questions about sex in an age appropriate manner. 
More about that here
5. if you as a parent/caregiver have sexual trauma in your past now may be a good time to process that with a mental health professional.
Because clinicians are offering telehealth services more now than ever, there may be therapists located beyond your own city who can meet with you virtually to do some good, healing work. Sometimes as adults we project onto kids and subsequently don’t respond in the best of ways when they come to us with topics pertaining to sex. Therapy can help you make sense of things!
Finally, if you suspect that a child you know may be a victim of sex trafficking you have the ability to now report your concerns. As of January 1, 2023, DCFS will now receive all calls regarding Juvenile Sex Trafficking in Louisiana. To report a case of suspected juvenile sex trafficking, call the DCFS child abuse/neglect hotline at 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437), then select option #4. The hotline is toll-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Monet David, MS, LPC

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