Social media is a breeding ground for false facts and misconstrued statistics. Scrolling through my feed, I find false information relating to sex trafficking (among other things) daily. Sex trafficking has been more prevalent in the media recently. While this is a great step to shine a light on this dark and dangerous crime, it also is easy to mix up the facts. Many people share statistics (and memes) regarding sex trafficking as their way of spreading awareness and caution to their friends and family. While it is always a great thing to be aware of your surroundings, much of the easily shareable content ends up distracting from what sex trafficking really is and looks like. It is not the white van in the parking lot of a Walmart ready to kidnap women and immediately sell them . . . despite what Facebook says. Kidnapping in relation to sex trafficking is extremely, extremely rare. Statistics and memes like this distract people from the true signs of sex trafficking. Even if someone does not share the information but reads it and believes it, we are now living in a more dangerous world as they may miss the true signs of trafficking.
The truth is the majority of trafficked victims know and have a relationship with their trafficker. That is how traffickers maintain control, by filling a need in their victim and by gaining their trust so later they can manipulate them into doing whatever they want. Everyone wants to feel loved and cherished. In our world of social media it is easy to pick out cries for attention, especially if profiles aren’t quite as secure as we thought. This is a scary topic but in order to combat it we must learn about it.
There are many sources out there with valuable, factual information about this heinous crime . . . but they may not be as glamorous as Liam Neeson in Taken. Everyone has a “special set of skills,” so use them. Your phone is already in your hand. Pull up your favorite search engine and look for government and nonprofit websites regarding statistics and true signs of sex trafficking and other nefarious crimes before hitting share on another random meme that may or may not be truthful and helpful.