What do you do about sexting?

sexting 1First, understand that the young people in your care are “digital natives.” They are growing up with abilities and the tools to use them that some of us aren’t even aware of. New apps and programs are being created that allow kids to secretly access information and communication that is hidden from the adults in their lives. Prevention is optimum. You can do that by clearly addressing use of electronics before there is a problem.


Here are some suggestions for healthy responses to sexting:

  • Calm down. Pause and take a deep breath before you do or say anything.
  • Never shame the young person. Instead, explain the dangers of sending pictures that can get into the hands of anyone and that can never be retrieved off the internet.sexting 2
  • Respond in terms of safety of the young person, saying something like, “This kind of behavior could result in terrible pain for you. I care about you and want to help you stay safe.
  • Put some time between the event and the correction. When everyone  is calmed down, explain how the behavior can lead to dangerous and painful situations.
  • sexting 3Teach the young person critical thinking skills by asking for ideas on what he or she could do differently in the future.
  • If you issue consequences, make sure they are directly related to the offense. For example, if the young person’s inappropriate behavior involves a phone, restrict use of the phone.

    sexting 4

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Tips for Parenting Kids who have been Mistreated

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 4.13.08 PMEVERY RESPONSE should start with, “I care about you, and I want the best for you.” Take a deep breath and calm down before responding. If necessary, tell the child you’ll talk about it later, and put some time between the action and the response so that you can respond rationally without anger.


Here are some suggestions for healthy responses:

  • Make safety your first priority. Kids feel safer when they are in a safe and stable environment, and live within a consistent schedule for meals, quiet time, playtime, arise and bed times.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 4.13.16 PMFind something you like about the young person, and tell him or her about it. Caveat: avoid complimenting physical appearance. Rather, you can teach the young person the importance of positive character and personality traits like tenacity, courage, determination, indomitable spirit, resilience, resourcefulness, and so on. Kids receive advice and correction best when they believed you care about them.
  • When kids gets loud, lower your voice and get softer.
  • Respond at eye level with the child, never towering over him or her.

Here are some suggestions for consequences:

  • Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 4.13.25 PMMake consequences relevant and directly proportionate to the misbehavior. For example, if the child steels or intentionally breaks something, he or she has to give it back or replace it. If he or she hurts someone, an apology should be suggested along with a question asking how he or she can make it up to the one who was  hurt.
  • Instead of taking things away, try a reward system for good behaviors. Ex: have a jar of quarters that add up to $10 (so it looks like a lot). Tell the child(ren), “this is your money that you can spend on [a toy, music, etc.]. The only condition is that if something gets broken or taken, it gets replaced by the money in this jar. Any leftover money is yours to spend.” This empowers kids to do the right thing. The more money that’s in the jar, the more incentive they have to not do whatever it is you don’t want them to do.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 4.13.40 PMEstablish regular, non-controversial, routine happenings at which family members can connect. For example, consider planting a garden, letting each child choose which vegetable he or she wants to plant. Tending to the garden can be a place where conversation can be had around something other than points of contention. There are lots of life lessons in the garden, like reaping what you sow, that give you an opportunity to share wisdom that can take root in the life of the children within your influence. These routine events happen whether things go well or badly so that there is Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 4.13.49 PMstability and consistency AND so that there is an established routine that brings you back together after a “blow out.” For example, “Tuesday Taco Night,” “Friday Night Movie Marathon,” etc.  These are events that are NOT TO BE EARNED. They communicate to the child that he or she is included, belongs, and is part of the family. No one is to be excluded from these opportunities to nurture relationships through normalized activities.

 

  • Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 4.13.59 PMConsider establishing traditions that can be fun ways to reconnect after a sad event or a “blow out,” like having a small helium tank, from which you fill up a balloon, write with a felt tip marker the behavior or event that you both want to put behind you, and then together release the balloon and the past with it. This could be a weekly or monthly event where every family member writes something on the balloon that is to be let go. It could be one of those routines that brings everyone together.
  • Consider having a weekly or monthly family meeting where everyone comes together and has an opportunity to speak. You might have an object that gets passed around. The person with the object gets to talk while everyone else has to quietly listen. Each person gets up to 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, the object gets passed to the next person. To wrap up, the object is passed and everyone says one thing they are grateful for, or one good thing about one other person, or some other positive statement.

It will take time, patience, and a commitment to love and listening to heal the youth in your care.

They are worth it.


Printable Cheat Sheet: Click Here

Video series available on YouTube

Provided by Successful Survivors Foundation

Affiliated with Successful Survivors Foundation Parenting Video Website

Sponsored by Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated

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What do you do about lying or stealing?

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 3.45.29 PMFirst, don’t be shocked. Despite doing all you can to make clear your expectations about the guidelines for acceptable behavior in your home, the young people who have been entrusted to your care may have come from environments in which it was totally normal to steal to get their needs met. They may have been raised watching parents lie and steal, so the concept of ethical and moral behavior may be new to them. Of course that doesn’t mean that you should allow them to do wrong, but it is important that you not only tell, but show, them the right way to live. For example, when the phone rings, don’t say things like, “tell her I’m not home.


Here are some suggestions for healthy responses for dealing with lying or stealing:

  • Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 3.45.21 PMCalm down. Pause and take a deep breath before you do or say anything.
  • Always respond in terms of safety of the young person. Explain how the behavior can lead to bad results, saying something like, “Lying or stealing can land you in jail. I care about you and want to help you stay safe and have a good life.

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  • Put some time between the  event and the correction. It’s ok to say, “We will talk about this later. Let’s both take some time to think about what we need to do about this.”  Then when you do talk about it, ask the young person what consequences he or she thinks should be imposed. Ask what he or she can do to earn your trust back.

 

  • When everyone is calmed down, ask what the young person is trying to achieve from lying or stealing.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 3.50.25 PMAsk the young person for ideas on what he or she could do differently to feel better, fit in, or whatever other result he or she hopes to achieve.
  • If you issue consequences, make sure they are directly related to the offense. For example, have the young person return or replace the stolen item. If the offense is a lie, ask the young person to apologize and promise to be honest in the future.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 3.51.50 PM

It will take time, patience, and a commitment to love and listening to heal the youth in your care.

They are worth it.


Printable Cheat Sheet: Click Here

Video series available on YouTube

Provided by Successful Survivors Foundation

Affiliated with Successful Survivors Foundation Parenting Video Website

Sponsored by Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated

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BE UNSTOPPABLE

keep-calm-and-be-unstoppable-22The availability of self-help books, and seminars that claim to be able to help you find your real self, your identity and your true mission in life, is almost overwhelming. They can’t all be right, right? And although they offer different methods of solving that mystery, they still fall short. Maybe because what works for one person is of no help to another. Good news for the people selling those books, not so much for the true seeker who would really like some answers.

What if the true way to get those answers is through asking an entirely NEW question— one that you haven’t considered until now? So far, the reoccurring theme in most self-help programs on the market is that to start any project that will tell you where to go, you must first know where you are. That sounds like two projects to me (or advice from the Auto Club). Certainly, there will be steps that prioritize how to make your dream happen but if we start with those steps, we miss the true flavor and excitement that only a dream elicits.

fight-for-your-dreamsAcknowledging the importance of those elements of flavor and excitement of your dream life, your authentic success, is exactly why the answer to the new question, can produce tangible results and jump start the new you. A bonus is that your answer to the new question eliminates a lot of other questions that focus on your current circumstances—questions that would only waste your time and distract you from what could be the most significant step you can take.

Think of it this way: You’re not all that crazy about what your life looks like today. Any hope of it being significantly different just doesn’t seem to be available. You’re just going through the motions. Nothing excites you. You might even be doubting that you’re capable of living any other kind of life.

The hope of changing that, will start to develop when you answer the following question:

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The trick here is to open your mind and not discount whatever it is that comes into your head. When you first begin to consider the question, don’t try to think of an activity or specific task. Instead, let the feeling of being unstoppable fill your mind and flow over you.

248026c7fa12f45ee41e8fffb51c9708Try to vividly recall a time you felt confident and happy. You were you then. In fact, you were probably the best possible version of you at the time. And if you think about the details of your life at that time, you will recall that despite the great feeling you experienced, your life was not exactly perfect. No one’s life is ever entirely perfect, despite fond memories of “the good ole days.”

There were surely circumstances that you wished were different, but those areas for improvement fade into the background when we’re on top of your game. The wish to be taller, shorter, slimmer, to have curly hair (or straight hair) to have thinner thighs, or whatever we perceive as our flaws were all still there on the day we felt unstoppable. But that day, in that moment, your faults, failings, disappointments and pain were all suspended. You felt strong, safe, in control, capable and whole, and yes, unstoppable.

previewSo carve out time to sit quietly, alone, without distraction, and remember the feeling, and the activities that led to the feeling. The activities could be something as simple as a doodle that you started when you were bored that grew into a frame-worthy masterpiece. It might have been the admiration on someone’s face as you shared a recipe you created. It could’ve been the day you aced a final you never thought you’d pass, or when you made your biggest sale, or survived your worst fear.

Feel the feeling and allow yourself to sit with that feeling. Recall your facial expressions, body language, and attitude. Remember what you were doing at that time. Write, record, or video the thoughts that come to mind. Once you have a clear sense of that unstoppable feeling and a clear picture in mind of what you did that led to the feeling, your possibilities are endless, because you have the power to recreate those activities which result in your power. You can be unstoppable again.

Don’t feel left out if you have never felt unstoppable. You can feel that way for the first time, and afterwards, recreate that feeling. To create the feeling of being unstoppable, think of someone you know or know of who seems to have experienced that feeling. unstoppable-infinityPerhaps it’s a professional athlete who just won his or her most important game. Perhaps it’s someone who received an accolade or nailed a performance. YouTube is full of videos of people who just “nailed it.” Watch those videos and notice the body language, the facial expressions, the posture, and the attitude of those people. Imagine what it felt like to experience their unstoppable moments. Allow yourself to imagine the feelings of exhilaration of winning a marathon you didn’t think you could complete; of being recognized as a leader in a well-respected field; of receiving a diploma, giving birth, receiving a standing ovation, or whatever else looks invigorating and empowering.

Find your individual formula for creating the unstoppable you, and you will find and fulfill YOUR REAL SUCCESS.


rhonda-sciortinoRhonda Sciortino, author of Successful Survivors and the 8 character traits of survivors and how you can attain them, used the coping skills from an abusive childhood to achieve real success which she measures by good relationships, good health, peace, joy, and financial prosperity. Through her writing, speaking, and media appearances, she shares how others can use the obstacles in their lives as stepping stones to their real success.

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What do you do about drugs?

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.20.00 PMFirst, don’t be shocked. Despite all the precautions we take to protect our kids, drugs are pervasive in our culture. Kids who have been mistreated can be trying to medicate their pain. For kids who have come from families where drugs were part of their norm, they likely don’t have a healthy understanding of the danger of drugs.


Here are some suggestions for healthy responses for dealing with drugs:

  • Calm down. Pause and take a deep breath before you do or say anything.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.20.46 PMAlways respond in terms of the safety of the young person. Explain how the behavior can lead to dangerous or even deadly results, saying something like, “Drugs can result in terrible pain for you. I care about you and want to help you stay safe and have a good life.
  • Put some time between the event and the correction.
  • When everyone is calmed down, ask what the young person is trying to achieve from using drugs.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.20.58 PMAsk the young person for ideas on what he or she could do differently to feel better, fit in, or whatever other result he or she hopes to achieve.
  • If you issue consequences, make sure they are directly related to the offense. For example, if the drugs are connected to a friend or group of friends, consider taking away privileges to be with those friends.

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Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.21.18 PM

 

 


It will take time, patience, and a commitment to love and listening to heal the youth in your care.

They are worth it.


Printable Cheat Sheet: Click Here

Video series available on YouTube

Provided by Successful Survivors Foundation

Affiliated with Successful Survivors Foundation Parenting Video Website

Sponsored by Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated

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What do you do about your child being bullied?

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.05.18 PM

 

 

First, don’t be surprised if the kids in your care get bullied.


Here are some suggestions for healthy responses for dealing with bullying:

  • Calm down. Pause and take a deep breath before you do or say anything.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.05.27 PMListen and focus on the young person. Learn what’s going on and show with facial expressions and active listening skills that you want to help.
  • Understand that it may be difficult or shameful for the young person to talk about what’s happening. Offer to include a social worker or mental health professional.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.05.36 PMRespond in terms of safety of the young person, saying something like, “I care about you and want to help you stay safe and have a good life.
  • Give advice about what to do. Offer to do role-play with the young person to let him or her get feelings out in a safe way.
  • If the child is considering  retaliation, ask what the young person is trying to achieve from the behavior he or she is considering.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.05.43 PMAsk the young person for ideas on what he or she could do differently to feel better, fit in, or whatever other result he or she hopes to achieve.
  • Make it clear to the young person that you are on his or her side. Do what you can to help the young person to not feel so alone.

It will take time, patience, and a commitment to love and listening to heal the youth in your care. They are worth it.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 5.06.15 PM


Printable Cheat Sheet: Click Here

Video series available on YouTube

Provided by Successful Survivors Foundation

Affiliated with Successful Survivors Foundation Parenting Video Website

Sponsored by Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated

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What do you do about sexually inappropriate behavior?

 

First, manage your expectations. Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.22.20 PMDon’t be surprised when young people in your care act
inappropriately. Children who have been sexually abused don’t have good boundaries.
They may be trying to show affection. They may think the inappropriate behavior is a way to earn approval. The good news is that when a young person within your influence behaves inappropriately, you have an opportunity to teach them the right way to be in relationship.

Here are some suggestions for healthy responses to inappropriate behavior:

  • Calm yourself before you speak to the youth. You may feel angry or betrayed by their behavior.  If you exhibit your anger to the youth, you will trigger their flight or fight response and they will not process your message. Pause and take a deep breath before you do or say anything. 
  • Never shame the young person. Be careful your words are value natural
    when you are acting to diffuse the situation.
    If you shame the youth through your words or actions you will trigger their Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.25.43 PMflight or fight response and they will not hear what you are saying. They will respond to you angrily and nothing will be achieved. As a first step, try to redirect their attention or behavior.  If their actions are physical try to draw them away from the situation by asking for help somewhere else. Although the youth’s behavior may be overtly sexual, they may not realize it is inappropriate. Shaming them will only serve to hurt them and your message will not be processed. 
  • Create a space between the event and your interaction with the youth. If either you or the youth cannot calm down or if you believe that a conversation at the time of discovery will cause flight or fight do not undertake the conversation. This does not mean that you should leave the youth or any one else in a dangerous environment.
  • Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.29.39 PMNever ask “Why” questions.
     Asking the youth, “Why they were breaking the rules,” or “Why they were taking acting sexually,” are hard questions to answer and may lead to them lying.
    Instead ask “How and What” questions. For instance “How did the response you got from the other person make you feel? “ What were you feeling that caused you to act that way?” 
  • Coach all your responses to their rule breaking in terms of your concern for their safety. Explain how their inappropriate sexual behavior can lead to potential physical and/or psychological damage.  Reactions from others to their behavior may cause them physical harm and their behavior may ultimately cause them to break one or more laws. Do not let yourself be goaded into punitive actions. Employ facts that prove your concerns about safety. 
  • Do Not Lecture. Listen. Listen to what the youth has to say. Reflect back to them  your understanding of their thoughts and needs in a value neutral or sympathetic fashion. Do not tell them you know how they feel. Tell them you hear what they are saying. Never use the word But. Remember your job is to teach them how to be safe, NOT to judge their behavior. 
  • Empower The Youth To Create A Safer Way to Deal With Their Feelings. Collaborate with the youth in exploring creative ideas to safely deal with the feelings, and needs that caused them to use or sell drugs. If an idea is the youth’s (even if you guided them to it) they will embrace it more strongly than if it came from you. 
  • Make sure the consequence for the youth’s rule breaking is not larger thanScreen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.25.55 PM the size and scope of their offense and is directly related to their behavior and their safety.  If a particular place, person or article(s) of clothing triggers this behavior you will have to ask them to give it up until they can demonstrate to you they can handle the situation and their behavior safely. Make sure they understand they are not being punished but that your actions are to help them remain safe. 
  • Understand that Traumatized Children may look and be chronologically one age but are psychologically a much younger age. Many traumatized youth do not understand their sexuality and do not intend for their actions to be sexual, they think they are being friendly.
  • Ascertain what the youth knows about reproduction and  sexuality. Traumatized youth who may have moved from home to home may not have had reproduction and sexuality accurately explained to them. Find out what they know, and then in simple factual terms without displaying discomfort or awkwardness explain human sexuality to the youth. If it is difficult for you to have this conversation find someone in your life who the youth gets along with to have it with them. Remember if you act embarrassed the youth will get the wrong message about their behavior and the facts.
  • Realize that one interaction probably will not end the youth’s inappropriate behavior. There are deeply rooted psychological reasons a youth acts out sexually. Some of these reasons may be tied to their feelings about or their experiences with their birth parents.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 4.25.21 PMIt will take time, patience, and a commitment to love and listening to heal the youth in your care. They are worth it.


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A New Resource for Fighting CSEC

This week’s blog is about two new resources that can help prevent the tragedy of trafficking and can help with care of rescued victims.

Many kids who get involved in trafficking go into it without a fight. They are compliant victims. In fact, they may not see themselves as victims at all. Sadly, many of them see what is commonly referred to as “the life” as their only option. They truly have no idea that there are other options available to them. This is also true for rescued victims that go back to their former trafficker. It all comes down to options, and feeling as though they have none.

The same is true for young people who commit suicide—they choose it when they believe they have no other options. This is particularly true for young people who have known someone who committed suicide. When they’ve experienced the loss of someone through suicide, it’s as though that person “modeled that choice” to them. Retired therapist, Joan Sellers, who worked in the area of suicide prevention, stated that, “people who know someone who suicided are twice as likely to suicide because they consider it a viable option.” Couldn’t it also be true that young people who know someone in “the life” have an increased likelihood of choosing to become part of someone’s “stable?” With an average life expectancy of 7 years, the sad truth is that the only difference between the choices of a life of trafficking and suicide is the pain experienced and the time it takes to die.

Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense that if we want to reduce the likelihood that a young person will choose to go into trafficking or that a rescued trafficking victim will return to trafficking, one way to do so would be to provide the young person with additional options?

How in the world would a young person know what options were available to him or her? What if every foster parent knew where to find independent living programs, job-finding programs, Safe Families Plus programs, etc. to refer young people to? What if every social worker knew of local services for the homeless, domestic violence shelters, community services centers, churches with youth outreach programs, etc.? What if the young people could download an app that showed them every resource available within 5 miles of their present location? An app that does just that was developed by Los Angeles County Social Worker, former foster kid, and Army veteran, Ruby Guillen. Additional resources can be found at http://www.vanguard.edu/gcwj/trafficking- resources/. There are lots of resources available, but if young people aren’t aware of the resources or how to access them, they won’t.

NEW OPTION #1: One way that any interested person can learn about the issues, the challenges, promising practices, and available resources is through the Vanguard University’s Global Center For Women and Justice online Human Trafficking Certificate: http://www.vanguard.edu/gcwj/htcertificate/. Dr. Sandie Morgan, Director of Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice developed this certificated program so that anyone, anywhere can study the issues, be a voice in his or her community, and can spread the word about available resources for prevention, demand reduction, care of rescued victims, and every other aspect of human trafficking.

Right now, every one of us can let young people know that they have options! We can help to open the eyes of the young women within our influence to the opportunities that are available to them now more than at any other time in history. There is more opportunity now than ever in “STEM”careers, which stands for “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Still believe that women aren’t good at math? Ask former 12-year-old trafficking victim, Carissa Phelps, author of Runaway Girl, who holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, an MBA, and a juris doctorate. Or ask Ruby Guillen who, when she’s not working as a Social Worker is competing in “Hack-A-Thons” and teaching technology to young people. Ruby, along with her team at Humanistictech, helps to empower young people by teaching them the valuable and highly transferable skills that will give them powerful options for self reliance and independence for the rest of their lives.

NEW OPTION #2: Through a generous grant from a couple that adopted their only child from foster care and from Markel Services Incorporated, the Successful Survivors Foundation worked with three-time Academy award winning film producer, Jana Memel, to create a series of videos in which actors play out the scenarios that foster families experience. The actors show the interactions that sometimes lead to tragedy.

Then the narrator shares communications tools provided by foster care experts and thought leaders. The viewers then get a glimpse into the thoughts of the different characters. And finally the actors act out the scenario using some of the tips and techniques that, if used consistently, should improve the safety and relationships of everyone involved. The great news is that these videos are available 24/7 FREE OF CHARGE at www.getresultswithbetterconversations.com.

Our hope is that if kids feel safe and accepted in your foster home, they’ll be less vulnerable to traffickers because they’ll see that remaining in that safe, stable, welcoming environment IS the best option.

I’d like to hear from YOU about suggestions, resources, and options. Let’s connect at www.facebook.com/successfulsurvivors to help create successful survivors of the victims of abuse or trafficking within our influence.


rhonda-sciortino

Rhonda Sciortino, author of How To Get To Awesome, used the coping skills from an abusive childhood to achieve real success which she measures by good relationships, good health, peace, joy, and financial prosperity. Through her writing, speaking, and media appearances, she shares how others can use the obstacles in their lives as stepping stones to their real success. Rhonda can be reached at [email protected]

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Human Trafficking 101

The Problem

The FBI estimates that 100,000 children are sold right here in the United States for sex each year, including in child sex trafficking, child sex tourism, and child pornography. There is not a single state in the US that has not been touched by this human tragedy, yet in many states the challenge remains that the problem of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) hasn’t yet risen to the level of those who can launch systemic change.

The Orange County California Board of Supervisors issued a resolution on September 1, 2015, that I would like to see every state adopt. They resolved to affirm their commitment to preventing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and to work collaboratively with all county partners to identify, protect, and to serve these vulnerable children and youth. In that same resolution, which has been distributed in the areas of education, child welfare, mental health, medical, and to law enforcement and justice, the board of supervisors declared that CSEC has become an epidemic in the state of California.

Prevention is key

The Human Rights Project for Girls estimates that somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 American kids are currently at risk for becoming victims of CSEC and trafficking. The FBI has documented that 60% of the children rescued from trafficking in 2013 reported having been involved with foster care, and nearly all report having been abused or neglected as children. In 2012, 88 children were rescued from trafficking in Connecticut. 86 of them had been in foster care. In that same year, Los Angeles County reported that 72 commercially sexually exploited girls were in their Succeed Through Achievement and Resilience Court Program. Of those 72, 56 were child-welfare involved.

Since many of us are involved in foster care, we are on the front lines of prevention. It’s important that we know the factors that make young people, especially girls, easy prey for traffickers. According to the Human Rights Project for Girls, these are the highest risk factors:

  • Being female between the ages of 12-14
  • A history of sexual and physical abuse
  • Foster care involvement
  • Being a runaway or homeless youth
  • Living in an impoverished community
  • Disconnection from education system and off-track for achievement
  • Substance dependency

 

Human-Rights-Project-for-Girls

Lessons learned from former CSEC victims

When I listen to rescued trafficking victims, I always try to mine the lessons out of what they share. There are things that I’ve heard shared by various people in different ways that shed some light on some of the themes that seem to be common in these tragedies.

They were coerced into doing something. One former trafficking victim told of being a good student, working hard in school, and being hopeful for her future. Her friend from school invited her to go to the friend’s cousin’s house. At 11 years old, she went along. When the girls arrived, they found the cousin and his friends smoking and drinking beer. The girl immediately felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave, but she was 11,with no way to leave or to call anyone to come get her. Everyone kept encouraging her to drink a beer. She didn’t want it. She didn’t like the cigarette smoke. But after a while she got thirsty and took a drink of beer. The next thing she knew, she woke up tied to a mattress on the floor of the garage of that house. She was raped repeatedly for two days.

Someone “loved” them. Many former victims report the trafficker as their “boyfriend” or “daddy.” Some truly believe, even after being rescued, that the trafficker loved them. Stop and really think about this for a moment…these girls are so starved for love, affection, and encouragement that they are easily deceived into believing thinly veiled lies. Many of these victims were sexually abused as children, so what they experience with traffickers isn’t that out of the ordinary for them. Sadly, they believe that their worth and value is in their looks and how they earn their living.

They were dependent on the substance they use to medicate their pain. Victims of abuse often self-medicate with prescription or illegal drugs or with alcohol. When the prescription is no longer refillable or the money runs out to purchase the medication, they do whatever they have to do to get what they need, which often involves sex for drugs. Many victims don’t even see this as trafficking. The same is true for the young people who trade sex for a place to stay and something to eat. In our culture of “friends with benefits” being an acceptable category of relationships, they look at the “exchange” as one option, rather than as a desperate last resort.

There are many other lessons we can learn from rescued victims, but if we take just these three things, we can extrapolate from them some prevention strategies.

Ideas for preventing CSEC

Coercion: To coerce means to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, especially without regard for individual desire or volition. Persuasion, on the other hand, is a peaceful, non-threatening way to convince another person. Since the purpose of persuasion is to open the heart and mind of another, any changes in the opponent’s attitudes or actions are voluntary.

Teach the young people within your influence what coercion is, and the difference between coercion and persuasion. You can raise their awareness of coercion and the ability to avoid it by giving them examples of what coercion sounds like, and conversely, what persuasion sounds like. For example coercion may sound like, “if you really love me, you’ll do this,” or “if you don’t do this, I’m going to go get your little sister and make her do it.” Persuasion, on the other hand, may sound like, “if you want to be a lawyer someday, you need to buckle down and study now,” or “I would really like you to do this, but I understand if you don’t want to. I will care about you no matter what you decide.”

Once you’ve explained the difference between coercion, which benefits the person doing the coercing, and persuasion, which should always be in the best interest of everyone involved, move on to demonstrating some specific ways to avoid coercion. For example, teach young people to say things like, “No, I don’t want to go with you and your cousin.” Help them understand that they can and should say no if they have the slightest discomfort. Tell them that they are not obligated to give a reason to the person who is trying to coerce them. Let them know that societal politeness and cultural acceptability can be set aside when they feel threatened or afraid. And as Robert Martin, former LAPD Captain and personal protection consultant (www.facebook.com/captbobmartin), says, “learn to confidently and convincingly say NO MEANS NO.” In doing this, you’ll be helping young people protect themselves against all forms of coercion they may face in their lives.

flat,800x800,075,f.u1Love: To help kids protect themselves against the lure of a trafficker who tries to make them feel wanted and loved, beat them to the punch! Act like you care about them, act like you want them in your family, and act like you love them. If they are difficult to love, as most wounded people are, ACT like you’re competing for an academy award until you can genuinely love them.

For kids who have felt unloved, generic compliments won’t work. Find something you genuinely like or admire about them and point it out to them. Are they especially courageous, resilient, or determined? Whatever good you can find in them is likely one of the good characteristics they can leverage to create their own successful life. Remember, you won’t always be there to protect them. They will think more highly of themselves, and be less vulnerable to a sweet talking person if they know that you think highly of them.

Substance abuse: Kids who have been hurt are not abusing drugs to have a good time—rather, they abuse drugs to medicate their pain. We can get to the root of this problem by making them feel loved, valued, and wanted. If they’re already medicating their pain, your job may be more difficult, but making them feel valued is the first step to alleviating their pain and giving them the ability to choose to quit self-medicating.

In conclusion, nearly all the rescued trafficking victims who have gone on to create good lives for themselves report that one person saw value or potential in them. Regardless of whether you are a foster parent who sees the child every day or the receptionist in the doctor’s office who sees them once a year, YOU CAN BE THE PERSON WHO SEES VALUE IN THEM. When you see something good, say something good.


rhonda-sciortino

Rhonda Sciortino, author of How To Get To Awesome, used the coping skills from an abusive childhood to achieve real success which she measures by good relationships, good health, peace, joy, and financial prosperity. Through her writing, speaking, and media appearances, she shares how others can use the obstacles in their lives as stepping stones to their real success. Rhonda can be reached at [email protected]

Posted in battered women, Child safety, choices, foster care, foster youth, Helping Kids Succeed, sexual exploitation of children, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Human Trafficking 101

Advice for the Unwanted & Unloved

Have you ever felt like a loser? Like the only one not chosen for a team? Like the only one not invited to the party? Although many people don’t admit it, most of us have felt that feeling of being left out, unwanted, and as though we don’t belong. What is profoundly sad is that it’s totally unnecessary. I find it incredibly sad that most people who were victims of abandonment, neglect, abuse, and/or dysfunction have no idea that they are some of the strongest, most resilient, most resourceful people on Earth. And that those qualities are highly transferrable and extremely valuable in the workplace.

For most of the first forty years of my life, I didn’t know about the awesome strengths, character traits, coping mechanisms, and compensatory skills I had acquired as a result of the pain I’d experienced. Consequently, I felt like a total loser until about 8 years ago. Oh, I knew how to hide it fairly well, but anyone who barely scratched the surface of the facade, would be scratching the barely healed scab off the life-long wounds of having been abandoned by my mother and father, severely abused by guardians, bullied by classmates, and rejected by just about everyone who saw the filthy, smelly, hurt and angry little girl I was. I didn’t know then how awesome I truly was. Had I known…had someone told me… I might not have been burdened under the weight of a feeling of being unwanted and unloved for most of my life.

After a lifetime of working hard to prove that I had some worth and value, trying everything I could to get people to like me, giving (and giving and giving) stuff, time, and money to others, something finally clicked. I had accomplished a lot of good things. I had achieved many goals and received awards of recognition. But most importantly, I had been blessed with some good relationships with healthy people who hung in there with me despite the drama that was driven by the continuously cycling depression and anger that was roiling inside me.

awesomeBecause of the good people who saw good in me, and pointed out specifically why they thought so, I was finally able to believe that there actually was good in me, and that, in fact, I was awesome in my own goofy way! No longer did I have to work hard at “acting normal,” (whatever “normal” is). No longer did I have to try to emulate the good qualities I saw in others (which was how I eventually untangled the tangled wiring in my brain from being raised by a mentally ill man and an alcoholic and addicted woman in a crazy-making environment).

When the light went on in my head and the “head knowledge” of knowing my good qualities dropped that long 18” into my heart, I finally understood that I actually am pretty awesome, and that it’s not arrogant or boastful to acknowledge it! Because not only am I acknowledging that about myself, but I’m now able to see the awesome qualities in others without having to be envious about what they have that I don’t. I realized that I’m not in competition with anyone except the person I used to be. Knowing the qualities that make me awesome, gives me the confidence to celebrate he awesomeness of others, which makes collaboration and powerful collective impact possible! It is for that reason that I’ve decided to help others find their unique awesomeness in the little book, HOW TO GET TO AWESOME—101 steps to find your best self.

I hope that everyone who’s ever felt unwanted, unchosen, or unloved reads it from cover to cover. And I hope that each reader finds his or her awesome self in the pages of this little book. And then I hope that each awesome person goes out into the world identifying the awesomeness of everyone within their influence.

Awesome people attract other awesome people. They attract amazing opportunities. And they seem to go from one awesome life experience to the next. Imagine awesomeness spreading like a “contagious virus” with every awesome person spreading awesomeness throughout the world! Could such a simple thing really change lives, and go on to change the world? I’m just goofy enough to believe it can! C’mon…join me!


rhonda-sciortinoRhonda Sciortino, author of How To Get To Awesome, used the coping skills from an abusive childhood to achieve real success which she measures by good relationships, good health, peace, joy, and financial prosperity. Through her writing, speaking, and media appearances, she shares how others can use the obstacles in their lives as stepping stones to their real success. Rhonda can be reached at [email protected]

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