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Sex trafficking in plain sight requires parents to monitor mobile devices

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Last Monday, Debbie Johnson, Founder and CEO of Without Permission, a Modesto non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of and recovery support for victims of sex and human trafficking, accepted the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award at the Sacramento FBI field office.

Special Agent in Charge of the Sacramento FBI Office, Monica Miller, acknowledged Without Permission as a critical collaborator helping sex trafficking victims. “They provide bags of compassion, and have trained many volunteers to work with local agencies from the courts, to the sheriff and others involved in the law enforcement and justice system to help victims recover,” she said.

Johnson accepted the award on behalf of Without Permission volunteers. “We have trained over 100 volunteers and we engage in strategic collaboration with law enforcement to fight evil,” she said. “To date we have helped over 45 survivors whose stories are sacred to us.”

According to its website, the Without Permission organization has three components to its mission: 1) to provide support for survivors, 2) training and support for officers of law and justice to recognize and help victims, and 3) public awareness exposing the prevalence of human trafficking in our own communities.

“If we do nothing, exploitation will be the model for the coming decade,” she said. “We are in pursuit of justice, compassion and freedom from this form of bondage.”

Johnson cautions parents that the internet is a major factor facilitating human trafficking as a growth industry in three main ways.

  • Social media is used as a recruitment tool to snare vulnerable girls posting their emotions
  • Selling sex slaves is made private and easily concealed via websites and cyber communications
  • Cyber communications, with throw away phones, etc. makes it difficult to track and capture sex trafficking operations. There are off shore accounts involved and there is no physical address linked to the transactions and data posted on line

What can parents do?

Johnson wants parents to know that the most insidious aspect of this evil is that the victims go along willingly. “We call it ‘romeo pimping’ because predators target vulnerable girls on social media and romance them into what the girls believe is a relationship, that eventually becomes exploitive,” she said. “And with texting and social media, this is happening in homes in our own communities, sometimes with teens in the neighborhood.”

Johnson's tips to educate your children about predators.

  1. Listen to your gut. If you get a queasy feeling then it is probably not right.
  2. If you have to hide it, then it is probably not a good thing. Secrets only lead to risky things which harm you in the long run.
  3. Never befriend anyone on line that you don’t know two to three people deep
  4. Modesty is important because the “shame factor” is used against the girls later with extortion threats to expose them if they do not comply

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