Posting Your Child’s Photos May Seem Harmless
You may think that posting simple pictures of your children on your social media is harmless right? Wrong! These child traffickers are smart and they are getting smarter. Here’s an article from a blogger that is a real eye opener.
As Paradise explained, there’s no such thing as “stranger danger” these days. The internet makes kids think they know everyone, purely because of shared friends. Parents don’t realize that something as simple as giving their child a game with an online connection opens them up to predators.
Everything has a tracking device. Facebook can tell users where their friends are. Proud parents display bumper stickers with their children’s school listed on them, boasting their activities (“My Daughter Is a Cheerleader at Colony High School!”), even sharing their jersey numbers and other identifying information. Predators can easily find more than enough information to take any tween or teen they want.
Here’s how it happens: A trafficker might happen upon your child’s photo online. With a quick search, they’re able to find your name and place of business. Once they have that, they might follow you home from work one day. Then they spend a few days watching your house, getting a feel for your routine, paying attention to what you’re posting online. Maybe your child has practice next week and you get stuck late at work. That’s when the trafficker approaches your kid and says, “Hey, are you Sally’s kid? The one who drives a black Honda Pilot? Your mom has been in an accident. She’s OK, but her car is totaled and an ambulance had to take her to the hospital. I saw the whole thing happen. She was really worried about you, and asked me to come get you and bring you there.”
Based on cases in which recoveries have taken place, though, Brenda explains that sometimes it’s a local drug dealer, looking to use your child to pay a debt. Sometimes they are used for drug trafficking or sold to pedophiles. The traffickers work to quickly get these kids addicted to drugs, which makes it easier to manipulate them and traffic them out of state.
If law enforcement gets too close, traffickers are more likely to kill the child and dump the body where it’s not likely to ever be found. While Paradise is quick to explain that this happens to teenagers far more often than young children, she says it’s never too early to start protecting your kids.
Make your photos private. Be careful about the information you put online. Talk to your kids in an age-appropriate way about strangers and never getting in a car with someone they don’t know. You might want to think about using a family password, as well, so that if anyone ever tries to tell your child that you sent them to pick them up, your kid knows to ask for that password first.