I created a list of proactive tips to help parents protect their children from traffickers. Traffickers are child predators, and this list is an attempt to expose the tools which they use to lure children away from their homes. Tip #7 deals with gifts.
After picking me up from the mall, my trafficker bought me an expensive pair of sneakers. This made a big impression on me. In my middle school world, clothes (especially brand name clothes) were extremely important. They made you Cool. And being cool meant a lot in middle school, at least it did to me.
I remember the first time I held a pair of Calvin Klein jeans. I was maybe thirteen and standing inside a Dillard’s store in the Ocean County Mall of Toms River, NJ. I ran my fingers over the brown CK logo and thought about all the possibilities that might be available to me if I could own these jeans.
If I had these jeans, I thought I would be pretty and popular; I thought I would be Cool.
I had to have them.
And since my family couldn’t afford a pair of $60 jeans, I slipped them inside my bag and headed for the door.
I swear I heard a freight train roaring in my ears as I tried not to break into a run. I kept my eyes straight ahead, and I tried to act casual. And then I felt the hand on my shoulder, and I heard the man’s voice behind me. I stopped and just watched my future shrink down in size.
As I sat in the Ocean County Jail waiting for my parents to pick me up, I swear I felt no regret. I felt only red-hot hate and resentment which nobody could understand, including myself.
Until now. Now I understand I was angry because I was getting punished for doing the very thing society was telling me to do. I needed these jeans in order to be somebody, I was being told. And by taking them away from me, society was saying I was a nobody and that I deserved nothing more.
Let’s go back to a previous blog post in which I compared the number of images of celebrities in teen magazines. I looked through the same two magazines, the February issue of Seventeen and the December / January issue of Justine, to compare the number of advertisements.
Seventeen Magazine had the following advertisements in its 126 pages:
Beauty/Hygiene Products: 106 ads (16 full page ads and 2 double-page ads)
Fashion/Clothing: 223 ads (8 full pages, 1 double-page)
Books: 0 ads
TV Shows: 5 ads
Movies: 2 ads (1 double-page)
Org’s/Camps/Schools: 1 (1 full page)
Other (games, food, bedroom accessories): 5 (2 full pages)
The magazine itself: 1 (1 full page)
Justine Magazine (a magazine for “teens, real teens, just teens”) had the following advertisements in its 98 pages:
Beauty/Hygiene Products: 48 ads (13 full page ads)
Fashion/Clothing: 107 ads (16 full pages)
Books: 44 ads (12 full pages)
TV Shows: 12 ads (10 full pages)
Movies: 20 ads (one 4-page article with interviews)
Org’s/Camps/Schools: 3 (3 full pages)
Other (games, food, bedroom accessories): 42 (5 full pages)
The magazine itself: 3 (2 full pages)
Below is a trailer for the documentary Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood. Its message is powerful as it evokes one to question the ethics of marketing to children. The second video is a relevant excerpt from the documentary.
Traffickers have a solid understanding about what popular culture is telling children, which is why traffickers often offer to buy them trendy clothes or shoes. This is their attempt to win over the child’s affection and trust. Unfortunately, this ruse often works. My tip for parents is to educate children about commercials and about the corporation’s marketers who are really behind them. I also recommend helping children to understand that a human bond is based on the time and energy spent between two people, not the gifts that are exchanged between them.
To read the entire list of 10 Tips to Protect Your Child from Traffickers, please register in the top right hand corner of mywebsite. Please comment about which tips you think are most important, and please stay proactive in your pursuit to abolish human trafficking!