Teenagers are being bought and sold for sex. It’s overwhelming and scary, but you can help.
We spoke with advocacy groups and came up with three ways you can help.
1. Learn the signs
Pay attention the next time you’re traveling. What do you see? Does something—or someone—stick out? What’s “off” about that girl traveling with that man?
The girl could be wearing something a little too mature or heavy makeup or carrying a designer purse.
Sometimes makeup covers bruises or scrapes. Often the girl appears worn out, distant or scared. She may avoid eye contact. These are all signs someone else is in control and could be exploiting her.
You may think: "it’s not my business," "they’re probably OK," or "it’s not my place." But the truth is, you may be their only hope. If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, say something to law enforcement.
2. Talk about it
Then, bring the conversation home. Talk about it with your teenage sons and daughters. Teach them the tricks traffickers use, especially online. Messages on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram could be how they connect by making an empty promise or even a threat. What they’re really doing is luring children into their control.
3. Ask how you can help
Now you have the knowledge, it’s time to get involved. Connect with a local advocacy group and ask how you can help.
They often need donations, volunteers and support.
You’ve already started helping by watching this series. Now, talk about what you’ve learned and share it with others, to help change the topic of conversations from selling girls to saving them.
If you see something or someone suspicious, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST. Tips are anonymous.
© 2017 TEGNA MEDIA