I was recently contacted by Ralph Goodman, a locksmith by trade, and an excellent blogger. Mr. Goodman offered to provide some tips for educators on how we can help identify and prevent human trafficking. We are learning that human trafficking is far more prevalent than most of us know, so I thought the time was right to publish Mr. Goodman’s guest post.
Here’s how you can help prevent human trafficking.
What Children Need to be Taught About Human Trafficking
It’s important to teach children that human traffickers will often use subtle coercion techniques and even rely on building a rapport or relationship before things escalate to trafficking. It is not always the result of abduction.
Who is most vulnerable?
The young people most vulnerable to human trafficking are typically neglected children or those who are predisposed to substance abuse. Predators are looking to isolate their victims and make a victim feel reliant and beholden to them. This is most commonly done through fostering addiction or capitalizing on a pre-existing dependency issue.
School staff members should be alert to those who are isolating themselves or getting involved with addictive substances. Any type of extreme social risk-taking behavior such as meeting strangers found online in private, especially those who are significantly older, should be a red flag. It’s a good idea to keep a list of resources handy to help deal with a vulnerable child.
How to get away
The best way to avoid being taken prisoner by a human trafficker is to teach children to avoid placing themselves in vulnerable situations. An easy thing to be done at school is to take notice of the most dangerous locations where a child could be abducted or may be engaging in risky behavior. This allows intervention so that a child can be distanced from a dangerous individual, even if an “abduction”, in the strict sense of the word, is not taking place.
Educators can also teach students that if they are ever grabbed or attacked by someone, it is best to scream and try to run. If caught, a child of any age can effectively fight back by striking at the eyes, throat, and groin of their attacker. Devices such as stun guns and pepper spray are likely to be banned by schools and are generally unwise to give younger or immature children.
What to do if trapped physically?
Regardless of whether a child is abducted or coerced, they are likely to be held against their will at some point. With younger children, it may seem like techniques to break duct tape and zip ties will not work, but just like breaking boards or ripping phone books, it is more technique than strength. You can teach children to follow the steps below:
- With temporary restraints like tape and zip ties, they are easier to break if they are as tight as possible. Zip ties can be tightened, but tape must be applied One way to facilitate this is to hold elbows together if wrists are being taped, so the tape has a better chance of being tight.
- Lift arms overhead and then bring elbows to your ribs as fast and hard as you can. If the restraints are tight enough and you follow through, the restraints will snap. (This works best if you are standing, and is not possible if hands are behind your back.)
- If arms are behind your back, move them away from your torso as far as you can. Bend over at your waist. Then throw your hips back, standing up in a single motion, as you bring you pull wrists hard and fast back to your torso. (This also works best while standing.)
There are many ways to be restrained, but tape and zip ties are the most likely because they are cheap, easy to use, and readily available. When it comes to teaching children how to escape from a kidnapping, it is tempting to tell them everything, but it is best to keep things simple and as relevant to the most pressing threats as you possibly can.
The circumstances that lead to human trafficking can appear to be self-imposed. It will often feel this way to the victim. However, viewing the situation in this light is not helpful when addressing the problem. Fostering that feeling of guilt and complicity is what traffickers want. A victim that feels responsible for their situation is unlikely to seek help.
Children and teens need to know that they are the victims no matter what they have done. In cases where drugs have been used, it is important not to dwell on this or appear to assign blame. The peers of a child being groomed for human trafficking can often pull away to distance themselves from the victimized child’s behavior. For the peer, this can seem like escaping a bad influence, but it may have the unintended result of further isolation for the victim.
Children also need to know that it is important to reach out if they feel trapped in a situation. Even if they have to admit to things they are ashamed of, they need to hear that any escape is better than life as a prisoner. As an educator, you can make yourself available and approachable to your students.
The most important thing for children to realize is that they and their friends might not be stolen away like something in the movies. This process can be gradual. And at no point are they helpless or beyond saving. If they are physically trapped or emotionally trapped, there are options for escaping human trafficking.
Ralph Goodman is a security expert and lead writer for the Lock Blog, the #1 locksmith blog on the Internet. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about locks, safety, and security. It offers tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, homeowners, locksmiths, and security professionals. Mr. Goodman has been featured widely throughout the web on sites such as Business Insider, Zillow, Bluetooth, Apartments.com, CIO, and Safewise.