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What Parents Need To Know About Sex Trafficking Is That Their Children Are Being Targeted

Written by: Heidi Chance, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Heidi Chance

Children are being targeted online on social media applications, as well as other applications on their cell phones. Children are being targeted online through games they are playing. Children are being targeted out on the street, and they are being targeted, unfortunately, by people they may know.

Hand of woman In the twinkling of an eye, human trafficking concept.

Parents need to look out for several indicators, specifically the contacts that their children are making with strangers online. Online exploitation is real. Be cautious, report suspicious online activities. You can make a report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Cyber Tipline.

What you can do as parent or guardian

Do not share personal information

You can help by just being cautious of the information you are posting on your social media pages. If you think about it this way, traffickers, sex buyers and predators invest a lot of time in targeting their next victims. Some of that time is spent looking into the posts of others. 

Talk to your kids about inappropriate images

Simple conversations you have with your child will prepare them for the unfortunate fact that they will be contacted online by strangers. Teach them to tell you if someone is asking them to share information and especially images of themselves. Teach them to expect this will happen.

Spot and stop secrets

Teach your kids about individuals that might ask them to keep the conversation a secret, or tell them to use a secret code or emojis to indicate something secret that is created by the stranger. Especially talk to your kids about being very suspicious of someone telling them to delete the messages shared with the stranger. This is a huge indication of a not safe situation. Tell your kids to report these behaviors to you and that they won’t be in trouble ever for coming forward to tell you about these types of conversations. 

Be cautious of gifts and promises

Tell your kids about strangers offering them gifts or making them promises. If they know in advance, then they might see this as a sign of someone trying to gain something from them in exchange and they will tell you about it.

No meeting strangers from online

Teach your kids that it is never safe to meet in person with someone they met online. And it is definitely not safe to meet in secret without parents’ knowledge. 

There are so many more tips about keeping kids safe online, but I wanted to outline a few for your reference. For more tips, download my freebie linked here:  Download my freebie "Tips for Parents & Teens”  to get a list you can print and keep handy.

“Some tips are as simple as making sure your child has your phone number memorized!” – Detective Chance.

Recognizing signs of child sex trafficking

If a child starts to talk differently

The sex trafficking industry language uses specific terminology. If a child starts speaking and using certain terms, those terms could be an indicator that they are around people speaking that way and that should be a red flag. Visit to learn more about terminology used in the Sex Trafficking industry. 

If a child starts dressing differently

This could be difficult, especially with young girls, however when their child starts changing the way they dress, specifically dressing more provocatively, then parents should ask questions, they should pay attention and they should look into why this is happening. It could be that their child is trying to fit in at school, but then it could be that they are packing an extra change of clothes in their backpack so that they can leave the campus during the day to go meet up with a potential trafficker.

If a child comes home branded

A brand is a tattoo that traffickers place on the victims that they “own”. It is an advertisement to other traffickers that the victim is owned by them, and it helps them show how successful of a trafficker they are, if they “own” several victims with tattoos on them. This tattoo could be a moniker name or a symbol and is usually in an area for everyone to see but could be hidden as well. 

Parents, please take the time to be “nosy”, and get in the business of your kids. They will grow up knowing that you care about them, and they will also know that you will be looking into – looking out for them… it’s a win-win!

Also, check out the course I created, "The Power of Awareness," here to learn all about sex trafficking and what you can do to join the fight! 

Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Heidi Chance Brainz Magazine

Heidi Chance, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Heidi Chance, a 25-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, dedicated her career to combatting sex trafficking, notably serving 13 years in the H.E.A.T (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Unit. As an expert in forensic child interviews, abuse identification, online child protection, and undercover operations, she's a sought-after speaker, addressing law enforcement and many conferences. Heidi is featured in the PBS documentary "Sex Trafficking in America" and now uses her platform at to raise public awareness and provide training and consulting services to law enforcement, contributing to the fight against sex trafficking.



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