LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - For Human Trafficking Awareness Week, we spoke with a Lubbock detective who specializes in arresting sex traffickers, to share some tips on how to keep your children safe.
We’re keeping the detective anonymous to maintain the integrity of pending investigations. He understands predator strategies and says for them, spotting a victim is less about indicators and more about understanding the victim and their story.
It can be hard to detect a predator when it’s someone you or your child is close to.
Abusers will patiently groom a child over along period of time to gain trust and provide support to someone going through a hard time.
“Generally a person gets pulled into it because of a vulnerability and that vulnerability can be anything. Sometimes it can be financial, other times, it can be emotional,” the detective said.
The detective says traffickers will target teenagers all the way through young adulthood. That’s why talking to a child about their personal issues and creating a line of communication is important for parents.
“The red flags that we look at could be indicators of emotional problems: suicide ideations, mental health issues, anxiety, depression, drug abuse. So, as a parent, you just try to educate yourself on those problems and then scratch the surface and find out what is the cause of it,” the detective said.
Once a predator knows a victim’s weak spots, they may begin what the detective calls an inappropriate relationship. A parent can look through social media and texts to discover the relationship.
“Reading the conversation with that person, you will find a closeness that is not on a normal spectrum,” the detective said.
They may also provide questionable gifts or trips.
“If your kid shows up with a new tablet, new phone, new shoes and they can’t really explain who gave it to them and how they got it or you know the person who gave it to them and you don’t think it’s an appropriate gift to be giving them, that could be a red flag,” the detective said.
Not all signs are obvious. Experts recommend that parents have all of your children’s passwords and have access to who your child is talking to online.
Most importantly, although coming forward can be extremely difficult, but you could prevent another child from becoming a victim.