• Cynthia Brian

Internet Culture and Child Sex Trafficking

“Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here.” —Kailash Satyarthi

The internet is a powerful tool and an integral part of modern society. Living in a fast-paced digital world, individuals can contact others worldwide at the simple click of a button. Applications like social media and Google have created many benefits, such as staying up to date with important events and global news, increased interaction with other individuals, and increased accessibility to educational material. As of 2019, 59.5% of the worldwide population used some form of internet. That is 4.66 billion people, all interconnected through one single platform!

However, with this increased communication and exposure to potential strangers and outsiders, internet safety is a top priority that should be taken seriously when searching and using the Internet and technology. The internet can be a dangerous place, prone to predators ready to pounce on innocent children and teens. Ruhani and Hannah highlight the isolation and loneliness that the pandemic has caused in young people and the exploitation that has resulted.

• 10 is the average age of child being groomed online

• 8 days is a how quickly a predator can groom and

recruit a child into sending nudes or leaving home to

meet a stranger

• 98 is the percent increase in child online exploitation between 2020 and 2021

• 21.7 million reports of child sexual exploitation made to the CyberTipline in 2020 included 65.4 million images, videos, and other files.

They each provide a powerful segment of advice from teens for teens to keep them safe and also converse with one another about personal experiences. Staying safe online is critical when surfing the Internet. Some methods are:

  • Keeping all information secure and private

  • Setting strong passwords and safeguards for all social medias and applications used

  • Double check and verify information and links sent to you, as it could possible be a scam

  • Be extremely careful when talking to strangers online

  • Using secure wifis and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to avoid getting hacked or having your IP address leaked

They advise to never give out home or school addresses or send sexually explicit photos via the internet, even to a boyfriend or girlfriend as those could be used in a nefarious way. “Grooming” refers to when someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with someone so they can manipulate, exploit and/or abuse them. They discuss catfishing, when someone claims to look like a specific person, but they may be using someone else’s profile.

Now more than ever children are at risk for online child exploitation and it canhappen at home. Any child can be targeted and is susceptible.

How to Get out/How to Get Help

If you or someone you know is being trafficked, these organizations can help:

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888

Shared Hope International: 866-457-5433

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 800-843-5678

Rescue America: 713-322-8000

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