KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS
According to research done by the University Of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, 95% of surveyed teen prostitutes were victims of earlier childhood sexual abuse (Bayless, 2019). Parents need to know the signs of sexual exploitation for young children and also teens who may be sucked into the lies of a predator.
WARNING SIGNS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN:
- Gradual or sudden changes in behavior
- Cruelty to others
- Cruelty to pets
- Recurring nightmares
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Fear of the dark
- Regression behavior like bed wetting
- Unusual interest in /knowledge of sex
- Expressing an action in ways that are inappropriate for a child of that age
- Sexual Acting Out/Inappropriate Sexual play (with self, other children)
- Fear of a certain person/ intense dislike of being left somewhere
- Change in behavior around a specific person
- Afraid to be left alone or afraid to be left with a certain person
- Loss of or lack of interest in friends, school sports or other activities
- Fear of participating in physical activities at school
- Avoiding certain family members or getting nervous when you talk about them
WARNING SIGNS FOR TEENS
- Running away
- Low self-worth
- Self-destructive behavior/self-harm
- Self-mutilation/ cutting
- Seductive behavior
- Promiscuous behavior
- Low self esteem
- Eating disorders
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicide attempts
- Happening to a “Friend”
- Difficulty forming relationships
- Poor peer relationships
- Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)
“What if?” questions are an opportunity to practice scenarios with your kids. Role playing is a powerful way to teach kids how to handle difficult situations.
Act out with your child various situations at different familiar locations- sports practice, walking to a friend’s house, outdoor festivals, Halloween, at the mall, movie theater, etc.
These “what would you do” conversations can take place at the dinner table or on the drive to school and may help ease apprehension about the topic.
You will probably hear, “Oh mom, seriously?” In the end, it is better to upset your teen so that he or she thinks twice when potentially faced with a difficult situation.