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Hard Conversations, Pt. 1: "They've had potential abusers contact them over their school accounts"

Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

The birds-and-the-bees conversation is still awkward and uncomfortable for parents, so the idea that you should start when kids are young talking to them about things like sex trafficking can seem unthinkable.
After all, aren't parents supposed to make kids feel safe?  And sex trafficking doesn't happen around here anyway, right?  Plus my kids are way too young to have that conversation.
PAVSA's Carly Hiti, and Kylee Pass and Tyra Jaramillo of First Witness would beg to differ.


They know traffickers target kids of all ages, thanks in part to the internet.  But they'd like to put a metaphorical arm around your shoulders, give you a squeeze, and let you know that not only are there are age-appropriate ways to talk with kids about being safe and smart online, there are lots of resources available to help you out.
Carly, Kylee and Tyra are hosting a series of online presentations for caregivers and parents called Youth & Internet Safety/Trafficking & Exploitation: How to Have the Conversation and it's a lot more encouraging, in terms of what we can teach youngsters, than it might seem.

But perhaps the best place to start is the uncomfortable truth that traffickers have way more access to our kids than we'd ever dreamed of. 

Here's Carly Hiti.

The  Facebook page Duluth MN Trafficking Awareness has tips on how to talk to youth about internet safety, and the following organizations are also available as resources:

  • Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA) 24/7 Helpline: (218) 726-1931
  • Life House Youth Center  (218) 722-7431
  • First Witness Child Advocacy Center  (218) 727-8353
  • American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO)  (218) 722-7225
  • Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA) in Superior, WI  24/7 Helpline: 800-649-2921
Lisa Johnson started her broadcast career anchoring the television news at her high school and spinning country music at KWWK/KOLM Radio in Rochester, Minnesota. She was a reporter and news anchor at KTHI in Fargo, ND (not to mention the host of a children's program called "Lisa's Lane") and a radio reporter and anchor in Moorhead, Bismarck, Wahpeton and Fergus Falls.Since 1991, she has hosted Northland Morning on KUMD. One of the best parts of her job includes "paying it forward" by mentoring upcoming journalists and broadcasters on the student news team that helps produce Northland Morning. She also loves introducing the different people she meets in her job to one another, helping to forge new "community connections" and partnerships.Lisa has amassed a book collection weighing over two tons, and she enjoys reading, photography, volunteering with Animal Allies Humane Society and fantasizing about farmland. She goes to bed at 8pm, long before her daughter, two cats, or three dogs.
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