human trafficking

Breastfeeding. Preschool. Bicycle safety. Stranger danger. Moody teenagers. Deployment. Self-care. These are fairly common topics that you might come to expect here on Military Mom’s Blog. They’re all common issues that many military families face, and they deserve our time and attention.

However, one reason I love being a contributor to this blog is that we are also empowered to touch on the hard subjects, the taboo issues, and the less common topics of conversation. We are encouraged to share our stories and our hearts, whether they give our readers the warm fuzzies or a dose of harsh reality.

I never set out to be a presenter of pornography data, but here I am: warning this community of women that I hold so dear that the adult entertainment industry has crossed a line and now, our children are at great risk.

When you think of pornography, you probably don’t think about children.

Chances are you’re a normal, rational, loving parent, and thoughts of your child have never mingled with thoughts of pornography. Your mind just doesn’t work that way. Neither does mine. Sadly, there are some people in our world that think about these things all the time and are driven to make their fantasies a reality. Even sadder is that our children are at risk of becoming their next victims.

I know this is a horribly uncomfortable conversation that you don’t want to have. But I’m begging you to please dig your heels in deep for a moment because your child deserves to have parents that are knowledgeable, informed, and ready to protect them.

Why This Conversation is Crucial

Last year I found out that my local coffee shop was really a means for financially supporting an organization that fights human trafficking in our community and around the world. I interviewed Carl and Tina, the founders of Love Missions for an article I was working on for this blog and I was so moved by their work that I became a volunteer.

Since the day of that interview almost a year ago, I have not been able to get the victims and survivors of human trafficking off my heart and mind. 

My work with Tina and the other amazing volunteers of this organization has opened my eyes to things I could never have imagined are taking place in our world. As much as I’d love to turn the other way and forget these things exist, I have five children that deserve a mom who is armed with knowledge, information, and the ability to protect them. Your kids deserve that kind of mom, too.

I am offering up an awkward conversation that none of us want to have with the hope that it might save one of our children from becoming a victim.

One staggering statistic that I recently uncovered shows that the United States is the #1 producer of child pornography in the world, with 55% of the world’s child pornography being made right here in our own neighborhoods with kids we may even know. I know you think this would never happen to your child because you’re an actively involved parent, you monitor your child’s devices, and you have parental controls in place. But let me be clear – it can happen to your child anyway, and I can tell you how.

child covering from predator

Amanda Florczykowski was walking through her local grocery store when her toddler was literally snatched from her arms. This is not the most common way that children are abducted, but it definitely goes to show that it can happy to anyone, anywhere. Fortunately, Amanda’s child was recovered but it ignited a passion in her when she realized her child had been taken for human trafficking purposes. She uncovered many common ways that children become trafficking victims in our country and now, she’s making it her mission to educate other moms as well. 

While children can absolutely be snatched by strangers, they are more likely to be violated by people they know. It’s not always the overly affectionate uncle or the guy down the street you swear is using illegal drugs. Traffickers aren’t even always men. They can be the mother of your child’s best friend, the teacher at daycare, the “8-year-old boy” that your son plays online games with, or the pastor at your church. Many times, they’re the person attending an anti-trafficking class because they want to know what people are being taught to look for.

And please don’t feel safe because you’re a mom of boys and not girls. Florczykowski found that 44% of all child (under 18) trafficking victims were boys. Victims come from every race, ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic background in both city and rural areas… and so do their predators.  

The Child Pornography Pandemic

So far, I’ve shared a lot of information with you about the dangers of human trafficking, but what does this have to do with pornography? Child pornography is one of the first rungs on the ladder that leads to the selling of children for sexual deviance. That’s what child trafficking is. And in the United States, it’s a pandemic that we have been experiencing for much longer than the current one we find ourselves in. While we cannot compare the two, child trafficking has been going on for years without the same acknowledgment, and that needs to change.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 1-2 million children are exploited through trafficking in our country every year. That’s a pandemic that needs our attention right now and it all starts with pornography.

I know you may be thinking that not all pornography is bad and that child pornography is a completely different subject, but the research I’ve done may give you reason to ponder that a little longer. I’m not here to judge your private life or become your moral compass. But there’s a chance that you might be as shocked as I was to learn that the brain of a regular pornography viewer has more physiological damage than the brain of a cocaine addict. That addiction produces scientifically proven insatiability, causing the viewer to crave more graphic, deviant images for satisfaction to occur. It’s a slippery slope that leads many individuals to view it, then produce child pornography, and then into human trafficking.

In fact, in a 2006 study of a sex offender treatment program in a NC federal prison, 98% of those arrested for child pornography were found to have sexually abused child victims. The other 2% admitted that if the opportunity had presented itself, they would have taken it. So, not all porn watchers watch child pornography, but almost all child pornography watchers abuse children.

If you’ve made it through this much of the article, is your stomach as queasy as mine is right now?

What You Can Do About It

face with eyes covered and red tape with STOP on mouthNow that I’ve thrown all these horrific numbers at you, I want you to know that there’s hope. There are steps you can take to protect your children.  Scroll to the bottom of this article to learn six things you can do right now to decrease your child’s risk of becoming a victim, including having difficult conversations with them, monitoring their online presence, and being aware of the dangers of apps such as TikTok.

You can also use your voice to speak out against services such as Pornhub, the largest porn website in the world, that enables and profits from child rape, abuse, and pornography shared on their site. Earlier this year, the porn giant even offered their “premium content” free of charge to those isolated in Italy, France, and Spain during the early days of the current pandemic, boosting subscriptions to their services and placing child pornography in front of the eyes of more viewers.  Pornhub doesn’t have an age requirement or ID verification process to establish consent. They even have refused multiple times to take down videos of rape and abuse when the victims featured in the videos have asked them to. Fortunately, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse has called on the Department of Justice to investigate Pornhub and their involvement in the sexual abuse and exploitation of minors and non-consenting adults.

Most importantly, you can share this information with other moms.

The more we know, the more aware we become, the better we are able to protect our children from predators. I know it’s uncomfortable to think about our children becoming victims, but it’s much more devastating to lose a child to this sickening evil. We are military moms. We are strong. We are determined. We are protective. And together we can rise up, speak up, and armor up in this global battle for our children together.

 

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Heather is originally from St Louis but is now livin' the dream in sunny Orlando, FL. Her husband is a medically retired wounded warrior, having served in the USMC and the Army. Together, they homeschool 2 out of their 5 kids as the oldest 3 are now attending college. Heather is passionate about sharing her life and faith with others as a source of hope and encouragement, so she created The Mosaic Life where she minces no words about raising teenagers, living with lupus, raising a child with cancer, fighting to end human trafficking, and life as a wounded warrior family. She's also working on her first book and getting ready to start her second. If she finds a free moment, Heather loves to read a good historical fiction novel, spend time with her tribe, love on her German Shepherd rescues (Meka & Murphy), write content for Love Missions (an anti-trafficking organization), and serve as the Treasurer of Women at Rest Ministries (a grace ministry which helps women and families).