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Media Savvy Moms is a podcast by Parents Aware, your go-to for information on how to talk to kids and teens about pornography and healthy sexuality.

Who knew honest conversations about parenting and pornography could be so laid-back and fun? Join Melody and Marilyn for a series of chats and interviews on their journey to help fellow parents tackle this challenging topic with their kids.

Jan 22, 2020

I hear a lot about human trafficking in the news. Of course I’m concerned. But what do I do about it? Does it really affect me … or my children? 

What if your daughter (or son) was being trafficked right under your nose? While she was still living close to home and seeing you several times a week? And you had no idea it was happening? Does this seem unrealistic? In fact, that’s precisely what happened to our guest. 

A mother’s story about human trafficking

We’re talking with Lynda Harlos, a mother who was caught in a nightmare. Her daughter was being trafficked for sex—without even realizing it. Now Lynda and her daughter, Samantha, are doing everything they can to educate others about this growing crisis.

Human trafficking isn’t something that just happens overseas. It doesn’t just happen to other people. It’s happening right here in our own communities. And it can happen to any family. 

Often, when we hear about BIG issues like human trafficking we don’t know where to start or how to respond. What are the signs to look for? Can we protect our kids? Listen to a mom who has gone through it. She’s got the experience and practical advice to help us talk to our children. As parents, we are always the first line of defense. With knowledge we can make a difference. 

Boyfriend turned trafficker

[1:45] In our society, we learn about stereotypes associated with human trafficking and what it looks like, but those stereotypes are not always true!

[3:30] Did you know it is possible for a child to get into a human trafficking situation without realizing they are being trafficked? Traffickers are patient, sly, and manipulative. The grooming process can be incredibly subtle.  

[4:45] Learn how traffickers use traumatic experiences and shame to groom their victims and alienate them from friends and family, then sweep in as the “good guy” to “save” them and make their dreams come true. 

[7:44] It’s so important that we are aware of these nasty tricks so that we know how to fight back if our kids are being victimized. Love, love, love. Not shame! Lynda’s family didn’t give up. They kept reaching out to Samantha. They let her know she wasn’t alone. And that’s what eventually saved her.

Signs of domestic sex trafficking

[8:05] Would you be able to recognize the signs if you were face-to-face with a trafficker? Listen to what Lynda had to say about her interactions with the man who trafficked her daughter. 

[10:33] Where is Samantha now? Learn how Lynda’s resilient daughter has moved on with her life after this tragedy and made it her mission to help educate others so that it doesn’t happen to them.

[11:27] We wondered how Samantha escaped from her trafficker. But her mother told us that she really didn’t even realize she was being trafficked until several years after she got away. In her mind, she had just “dropped her morals” and she always believed it was her fault. Think about that for a minute. And consider what that means. If we are trying to help someone who is being trafficked, they might not even realize they need help.

“Our relationship was her lifeline”

[12:45] Our relationships with our kids can be a lifeline. Sometimes just a few words from a parent can change a child’s life. Find out how a small moment with Samantha’s father changed her direction in the midst of her journey with human trafficking. 

[14:50] Listen for great tips to help parents protect kids from human trafficking! Here are a few:

  • Provide a lifeline that allows your kids to come back to you no matter what.
  • Remember that it’s not just girls that are in danger—boys can be trafficked too!
  • Watch out for specific red flags that might indicate your child is being trafficked.

[19:00] Do you know the warning signs of an abusive relationship? And when does abuse become trafficking? We need to teach our children to watch out for these signs.

[20:05] Be aware that victims of trafficking have been coerced, manipulated, and programmed with a lot of fear. They’ve been brainwashed to distrust those who truly love them. It can take a great deal of patience to break through to them and get them to talk. But … it’s a lot more likely they will return to family if there was a strong relationship to begin with. Start by establishing open communication right now!

[21:55] There are a growing number of resources available to help victims of human trafficking. Many kids in trouble aren’t ready to go to family. But we can still help them find the resources they need. Our job is to create a safety net in any way we can. Some kids feel better talking to a complete stranger. The main goal is to get the kids at risk the help they need. (See our Links and Resources below.)

Episode challenge

Tell your children you love them. But don’t just say “I love you.” Make sure they know that you love them unconditionally. Tell them “I love you—no matter what!”

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More about today’s guest

Lynda Harlos is a mother of four and certified family coach. What really gets her feet on the floor every morning is her website, Parent With Purpose, and helping families. Lynda does a talk show and vlogs on all aspects of parenting, which are available on her website and YouTube channel. She is also author of the book, I Was The Perfect Parent...then I had kids: Experience Parenting with greater victory and less guilt.

Links/Resources:

Human Trafficking: A Personal Story - Lynda’s daughter, Samantha, shares her experience in her own words; debunking myths about human trafficking, and resources for our audience in Canada
Shared Hope International (website)
The Samaritan Women & Institute for Shelter Care (website)
National Human Trafficking Hotline (US): Call 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711)|Text 233733
Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline (CAN): Call 1-833-900-1010.