THE BLOG

Better Parenting Means No Pictures: Stopping Child Sex Predators

For a brief time, our nation will act horrified, angered, and shocked, crying for action. Yet, in a short time, you will abandon this issue and forget about Jared Fogle, just like you did the Duggar family, and move on to the next American scandal.
07/07/2015 04:21pm ET | Updated July 7, 2016
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

The news of Jared Fogle of Subway fame has once again brought attention to the horrors of child sex trafficking, and child sexual abuse. Fogle was detained as part of an ongoing child abuse pornography investigation. For a brief time, our nation will act horrified, angered, and shocked, crying for action. Yet, in a short time, you will abandon this issue and forget about Jared Fogle, just like you did the Duggar family, and move on to the next American scandal. You don't care enough about this to address it. You don't care enough to truly protect your child from these horrors; protect your child from being exploited online.

A dark little secret in America today is that of human sex trafficking. Most of us either are not aware of it, or refuse to acknowledge its existence in our nation, and around the world, today. Shockingly, between 300,000-400,000 children are exploited commercially in our nation for purposes of sex each year, many of these children being shipped, or trafficked, across international borders each year. For these thousands of children, a life of horror and danger is forced upon them as they serve as prostitutes for local and global criminal organizations. Thousands of other children are sold into slavery by those who profess to love them the most; their family members. How large is the problem? Disturbingly, human trafficking generates more than 32 billion a year, which is second only to drug trafficking. Roughly 2 million children are exploited in this manner across the globe. Where is the outrage? Where is the call for action?

I have another question for you. Do you know when the highest rate of child sex trafficking occurs in the United States each year? The answer may surprise you, as the event is looked upon as almost a national holiday of sorts. The Super Bowl, where you and your friends and family come together each year for your big party. Yet, this icon of American sporting events has been called the "single largest human trafficking incident in the United States" by Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbot and the "largest human-trafficking venue on the planet" by humanitarian Cindy McCain. Indeed, during the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, there is as much as a 300% increase in internet ads regarding sex trafficking. As a big sports fan, this greatly trouble me when I first hear the news, so much, that I did not watch the game this year. In 2014, 45 pimps were arrested, and 16 children between the ages of 13-17 were rescued by police from the clutches of those who were exploiting and enslaving these children for sexual purposes to those who were attending the Super Bowl.

Most prostituted youth today come from environments where they have already been sexually abuse. To be sure, the majority of children in America who are exploited sexually have already endured a life of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. Indeed, the contributor to a child entering into a life of child sex trafficking is a prior life of sexual abuse. Along with this, many of these children who have already been exposed to sexual abuse have problems with low self-esteem, and do not receive the educational opportunities they deserve.

To be sure, you can protect your child from these dangers by providing better filters, parental controls, and monitoring your child's online access. Yet, if that is all you are doing, you are not doing enough. It truly begins by you being a better parent.

It is important that you recognize that as a parent, you will be a role model for your child. Your child will not only be watching you, your child will also be learning from you, as well. If you are going to be in front of your computer for several hours a day while at home, then it should be acceptable for your child to do the same, as well. If you are going to download movies and watch them on your computer, your child should be able to do so, as well. If you listen to music online, your child will wonder why he is not able to do so, also. Indeed, whatever you are doing online and with a computer device, your child will be watching you, and learning your behavior and actions regarding computer use. This is certainly something to bear in mind the next time you sit down at the computer or online device. You must be a positive role model for all things computers.

Yet, there are the pictures of your child online. As a foster parent trainer, I continue to tell those who work in foster care that in no way, and under no circumstance should a child in foster care have her picture online. This goes for you, as well. I am always saddened when I see parents post pictures of their young daughters online in bathing suits, bikinis, and wearing next to nothing. Your daughter now becomes a prime target for an online sexual predator. These sexual predators and traffickers are also looking at your pictures of your young daughters dressed in makeup at your local beauty contest. These are the pictures that sexual predators and traffickers are looking at and targeting. Why are you posting these pictures?

The same applies to your teenage daughter who is posting pictures of herself puckering up her lips and kissing at the camera, while wearing barely enough clothes to cover the old Barbie doll she used to play with. Why are you allowing her to post these pictures? Why aren't you monitoring her online use? Why aren't you checking her phone, her online devices, and her social media sites each night, yourself? Are you afraid of invading her privacy? If you are, then you aren't protecting her from the many dangers that are threatening to take your child away from you. You are not your child's friend, you are his parent. If you are not going to protect your child, then who is?

________________________________________________
Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 13 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 45 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several foster care books, including the brand new book Love and Mayhem: One Big Happy Family's Story of Fostering and Adoption. Dr. DeGarmo is the host of the weekly radio program Foster Talk with Dr. John, He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at his website, http://drjohndegarmofostercare.weebly.com.