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Weekly Doses of Pop-up Psych

We all make cringey mistakes and deserve to move on, rather than feel confused or regretful after an icky social situation. Each week, I will dissect a murky social, life cycle, or pop culture topic to help you understand, learn, and move on. As a former academic, I am a super-picky consumer of research (and you should be too) as well as the content I create and share, so those new solutions, data and/or additional resources have certainly met my approval.

Preventing Trafficking: Building Awareness to Intervene and Support Victims

This week we are continuing our conversation on preventing human trafficking. My conversation with Sharrell, a brave survivor of trafficking was so extensive that it had to be broken up between two articles. Last week’s blog, Spotting Trafficking: Signs and Actions for Bystanders to Identify and Respond, highlighted how a random person could safely intervene when trafficking evidence appears. This week’s blog focuses on the signs to recognize when your own kids are being pulled into that world and how to stop it before it starts.


Although trafficking includes all genders being used for human labor, but for this blog, we are focusing on the sexual exploitation of young girls. Seventy percent of trafficking is made up of young girls and women who are treated like sex slaves and property to make money for other people. In 2023, there were 4.5 million victims of sexual exploitation. They lose their identities by being forced to change their names or given a fake ID so they can’t be found by their families. They have no money, privacy, voice, or property. Sharrell’s direct quotes are italicized.


You are in their world.  You are their robot, and they have a remote control for you.  Once they get you where they want you, they brainwash you so bad.  They can’t see past the guy.  The mom has no right to her own child. All the sudden, she wants to part ways with her whole family.  Sometimes you never see her again. It can only take one customer who travels around the world.  She might join the missing children.  They store those girls in buildings in Europe, black-marketed for loads of money.  They change their name, body and erase them off the map.


They don’t just vanish


Recently,  we have been hearing a lot about trafficking between Sean “Diddy” Combs and the infamous Jeffrey Epstein case. Both were famous, exceptionally wealthy, and had friends, who would have people recruit the girls on their behalf. They used power, money, promises, and other people to bait children. Watch all angles of your children because there are some real critters out there preying on the girls and boys.


They bait kids in front of their parents.  They give their kids free stuff and come off as being nice people, but they are baiting their daughter away. They befriend the boys to make themselves seem cool.  They accommodate with whatever they want to do to help get the girls.  They chauffer them around to get the girls.


Be preventative of trafficking by going through their stuff.


Go in their room and look at little things.  Diary, letters, look at their things. Even if it’s personal to her, pick it up and read it.  She might be on a train to meet someone to meet someone.


Look in her closet.  I would keep secret things in my pockets. I had those papers in my pockets to see which states I went to.  Look under her mattress.  There might be a photo or other evidence.  Girls don’t think-they will doodle, look at their folder because it might look like school stuff, but it is probably something else.  Look at the name because he might be a criminal. It pays to pay attention. She might be hiding a thousand dollars in her shoes. Everything they give you, you will give back tenfold and more. There are no gifts. I paid for everything. If it’s something too glam, they wanted it back-just to get you out.


Be preventative of trafficking by not trusting new adult friends.


The generous friend who you don’t meet that she keeps talking about.  Parents think the guy is doing a good deed bringing their daughter flowers for her - it’s not the man she will be with because he’s baiting her for someone else. Meet the families and friends - everything that goes on in their lives.


Be preventative of trafficking by paying attention to what they say.


Pay attention to your child.  If they are not making sense, someone is putting stuff in their head. Follow her if she starts acting or talking a little different. You hear things you know she doesn’t say. Where did she get it from?


She’s been coached if you start asking questions. You want to talk as much as possible.  Be quiet and listen because you will gather all the info. If you ask questions, she will run away.   Her hair might be looking extra pretty, but don’t dig too much. Dressing different, different music. Music about bitches. Everything is a clue.

human trafficking

Be preventive by meeting the families of all their friends.


When I was 12, my friend’s dad told me he would give me $200 to see me every payday. This was an older man and what would he want with a 12-year-old girl?  He was 30 and paid me to have sex with him.


Women do this stuff too. They were madams. They sell you but you don’t realize it. Trafficking is everywhere. The woman might have a husband who specializes in girls. Her daughter has friends and one of them takes a liking. ‘So and so’s parents gave it to me’.


Be preventative of trafficking by paying attention to how they act.


Your child seems nervous because they don’t know what they got themselves into. They shut you out and storm away.  They turn to the streets because they think there’s more love there.  They call you and have to go right there.  Nobody can pick up anybody at the house. 


Attitude changes because the man has them thinking they are so grown up in their mind so it’s going to change towards you overnight.  ‘Shut up mom, I’m leaving.’  Lots of things to look for. If she comes home wearing lipstick that she never wore it, ask about it.


Be preventative of trafficking by paying attention to when your child is struggling.


They go after the ones who seem to be in their feelings.  The ones who seem secretive - they can tell when someone is having a hard time at home. She might be loved. They prey before they get it. It’s guys who sit outside of the schools. Grown men watch little girls like a hawk. Once they get her when she’s 14-15, he will send a friend towards her who likes the same things. She spends time with the girl friend who changes their whole life.  You are being watched. If they are at the mall and don’t have enough money, there is someone watching to give them money for what they want. 


Thank you, Sharrell for bravely sharing your stories and wisdom with me.  The goal is for everyone to become a little more aware and do something.  Below are resources to learn more and to report human trafficking.


National Human Trafficking Hotline


Blue Campaign by the Division of Human Services


Human Trafficking Resources by US Department of Justice


What else can we do to prevent trafficking?

Hi, Beautiful Readers and thank you for reading this! I'm Dr. Joanne Broder, Media Psychologist, Author, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Please consider me to help you write your memoir, blogs, speeches, e-books, as well as coach you on your dissertation or thesis.  Click here so we can connect!

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