Recently our church hosted a worker for Fight4Freedom to educate some of our young people. Fight4Freedom is a local organization (with 12 offices across Canada) in the fight against human trafficking, particularly in the sex trade.
Since the audience for our evening was pretty young, we kept it appropriate, high-level, and about “forced labour.”
But here are a few facts to get you oriented.
Human trafficking is modern slavery. Fight4Freedom defines it as “the recruitment, transportation, and harbour of persons for the purpose of exploitation; human trafficking can be in the form of forced labour, servitude or sexual exploitation.”
1500 people are trafficked into Canada annually, and 90% of trafficking victims originate from within Canada. Globally, over 40 million people are trafficked each year.
The goal of this post is to share 6 messages for children and parents about how to avoid being lured into a forced labour situation. They originate from UNICEF.
1. Friend Requests
Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know on social media. Traffickers commonly use sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to lure their victims.
2. Don’t reveal too much
Don’t reveal too much about yourself (i.e. your full name, address, school, or living situation) to people you don’t know, whether on your social media sites or in person, no matter how friendly the person may be.
3. Never agree to meet
Never agree to meet someone you don’t know without first consulting a trusted adult (i.e. parent, teacher, guidance counselor).
4. A gift should be a gift
Friends don’t expect friends to give something in return. If someone gives you a gift, and then demands repayment, that is not okay.
5. If you feel uncomfortable
If you feel uncomfortable or are hesitant about a situation, confide in an adult who you can help you make the best choices.
6. Leave when you feel unsafe or threatened
Making a decision to leave a situation or relationship where you feel unsafe or are being harmed or threatened can be hard and scary. If possible, talk to someone you trust, like a friend, family member, counselor, or youth worker.
–Thanks for the help UNICEF and Fight4Freedom!
Unfortunately, we live in a world where evil is real; we’re naïve to think otherwise. Some trafficking victims are as young as 11. And it’s getting worse.
But sharing these messages with our children—when and where appropriate—is a proactive, helpful way to be wise, especially with the rapid rise and use of the internet, and in a time when many people, including parents, are uninformed about how it all works.
A part of what I love about Fight4Freedom is that they are bringing light to the darkness. They are dedicated to “seeing victims set free, and giving beauty from ashes.” Or, as it says in John 1:4-5, “in him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Has. Not. Overcome. It.
To learn more about trafficking in general, here’s a video interview I did in 2018 with Fight4Freedom volunteer Abby Zantingh: