10 Tips for Parents to Protect Children from Predators

10 Tips for Parents to Protect Children from Predators from trafficking victim Holly Austin Smith’s book “Walking Prey.”

1. Be proactive. Traffickers try to lure teens with promises of “a better life.” Teens struggling with bullying, peer pressure or other social issues are particularly vulnerable. The earlier you teach your children effective coping skills, the better.

2. Encourage extracurricular activities. Encourage your children’s interests. Having a skill, hobby or other interests helps a child to build self-esteem and self-identity, which is helpful as he or she faces puberty and all the insecurities that puberty brings. A trafficker can easily manipulate a child lacking a strong sense of self.

3. Teach media literacy. It is imperative to discuss what your children see and hear in the media -- and that includes online social media, where so many spend so much time. Teach them to determine what is entertainment, what is advertising and what is reality. Traffickers have a solid understanding of what popular culture is telling your kids.

4. Know who's reaching out to your child. Going to the mall was something I did almost every weekend with friends. And this is exactly where I met the man who trafficked me. Today, predators also can look for kids on the Internet. Even though your teenager may look like an adult, he or she is not. Your teens still need your guidance. Note: Predators come in all ages and genders. Women and children, sometimes victims themselves, often help lure unsuspecting teens away from home.