Every day, I train corporations, churches, and communities on how to spot, report, and prevent child sex trafficking. As a co-founder of the organization, Safe House Project, I am honored to do the work and grateful for those willing to learn. As a military wife and mother to two young children, I am acutely aware of the vulnerabilities for trafficking that my children have due to being a part of a military family:
Children who move often. Like you, I get to PCS every few years, deal with work ups and deployments, watch my kiddos move schools, and handle a thousand spinning plates. But our children are experiencing these changes right alongside us, and it can make them vulnerable to those who wish to exploit them.
Children who come from a single parent household or have a parent who frequently travels. This includes having a parent deploy. Raising children as a couple is hard enough, as they say, it takes a village. Having one parent gone for extended periods of time is another vulnerability for our children.
Children who lack social support/community. Moving every few years is hard. Making new friends can be hard. Having to rebuild those relationships to have people around you who love your kids as much as you do is hard, and it takes time. And while we are working to make this new city, state, or country home, our kiddos are vulnerable.
But there are steps you can take to protect your children.
Trust but verify. Vet the people who are going to be around your kids. It is so easy to move in and want to build community so quickly that we forget to due our due diligence. The reality is that not every babysitter or nanny is safe, not every neighbor has good intentions, and not every adult has pure intentions.
Be the safe house. If you really want to keep your kids safe, be the landing place for the kids in the neighborhood. Stock the fridge, ignore the dirt, and establish the rules. You will learn a lot by just fading into the background and listening.
Listen, listen, listen. Keep the lines of communication open with your kids, especially right after a move. It is so easy to get caught up in the to-do list that we miss them fading into themself and using the internet, gaming consoles, etc. as an escape.
Finally, Safe House Project’s team of survivors of sex trafficking created OnWatch, a one hour training for you to learn how to spot, report, and prevent child sex trafficking where they live, work, and play. Through these interactive modules, you can learn how to keep your children safe and how to spot the signs when something becomes unsafe.
Thank you for helping us protect the children of our American heroes.
Fellow milspouse, wife, and friend.
- Brittany Dunn