Social Media Tips For Parents
Children and teens who have been in foster care are more likely than their peers to become victims of child sex trafficking. Their experience of abuse and neglect as well as the lack of permanence can make these young people especially vulnerable.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, children and teens who have been sexually exploited may be too afraid or ashamed to tell an adult. They might feel the trusted adult won’t believe them, or they might not feel they were a victim. Much like other forms of abuse, it can take time for a child or teen to be ready to disclose their victimization even if they are living in a safe home with supportive foster, adoptive or kinship parents.
Sex trafficking often begins online. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children suggest parents ask themselves the following question about a child or teen’s online activity.
Do you know what they’re posting? Check comments and images for personal information, like phone numbers and addresses, as well as inappropriate and illegal content such as hateful or threatening speech and nudity. Delete anything you think is too much information.
Do you know how your child and teen accesses social media? Mobile devices, like cell phones and tablets, let children access social media apps away from adult supervision. Children may post content and even share their locations. Review app settings to help them keep information – like their location – private.
Do you know who they’re talking to? Your child’s online contact lists and followers may include people you don’t know, or even people your child only knows online. Even if you don’t know the contact, make sure you know what images, messages and other content they’re sharing.
Do you know what account settings they’re using? This is where you can control who has access to your child’s information. Each social media service has a different setup, so take a look at each one your child uses. Always ask yourself – what is on the profile and who can see it?
Do you know who has the information? Most social media services have ads and applications from 3rd parties, like games and fan pages. If children click on these or add them to their profiles, they are allowing access to their personal information. Have a discussion about what’s OK to add and what’s not.
Learn more about the signs of sex trafficking. If you suspect a child or teen is being trafficked, call the Colorado child abuse and neglect hotline 1-844-CO-4-Kids to make a confidential report. If a child or teen is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
Source: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, NetSmartz.org.