Tag Archive for: parents of teens

We’ve all been there. We watch parents cave to a child’s demands and think, “I would never let that happen with my child. I have no intention of raising an entitled kid.” But right now, we live in a “me” generation.

How many times have I been “that” parent, who after a long day, just wants to get home? Even after being so proud of myself for saying no, I eventually give because I just want it to be over. I beat myself up a bit and tell myself I’ll do better next time.

Honestly, most parents don’t set out to raise self-centered children. However, as we try to give our kids what we didn’t have or to ensure their success, we spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and brainpower focused on them. Unfortunately, this leads our kids to believe they are and should be the center of attention everywhere.

In my head, I know this is not a good thing. My professional training shows me this is not conducive to good outcomes for young adults. And research tells me this kind of parenting is not ultimately helpful to my child or any other child. BUT, how do we as parents put the brakes on and change our ways? And why would we want to stop doing things that we believe will ultimately make our children successful adults?

It’s helpful to begin with the end in mind. I don’t know about you, but outside of extenuating circumstances, I am not interested in having my child dependent on her parents for the rest of her life. I want to see her spread her wings and realize all she can do without our direct assistance.

What does it take to raise a child in a “me” generation?

  • Avoid leading your child to believe he/she is the center of your universe. In real life, your child will not always be the center of attention. Avoid putting this belief in his head – don’t make him the focal point in your home.
  • Teach your child what it means to be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior. While this one can be painful, it is super-powerful and important. Instead of saving the day when your child encounters a difficult person or a problem, allow your child to problem-solve, figure something out and actually deal with it. This will help build self-confidence. When parents take responsibility for a child’s behavior and removes the consequences (good or bad), kids miss opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Help them understand that just because you want something badly doesn’t mean you automatically get it. People tend to be less appreciative when they get things without earning them. Teach your children that anything worth having is worth working for. It’s a lesson that will serve them well throughout their life. Also, avoid the trap of believing it’s about the stuff.
  • Teach them the importance of giving. Whether helping with chores (without getting paid) or serving in the community, teach children how to be givers. Giving can help guard against a sense of entitlement.

In an interview about hiring practices, Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger, shared that he intentionally takes interviewees out for a meal. He always arrives early and requests that the wait staff intentionally mess up the person’s order. Why? Because he wants to see how they will handle the situation. Through the years he has learned that a person’s heart and their character matter as much – if not more than – what’s in their head.

Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

“Raising kids through the adolescent years is like guiding your family in a raft through whitewater rapids,” says Dr. Kevin Leman, author of Running the Rapids: Guiding Teenagers through the Turbulent Waters of Adolescence.

Like going down the river trying to navigate rapids, rocks and other hidden dangers, there is definite risk in experiencing the adolescent years. In fact, it can be potentially destructive for parents, teens and the entire family. Leman believes that how you choose to travel the river makes all the difference for you and your teen. Some people believe that the teen years are the most difficult, but Leman would argue they are the best years.

“The teenage years are a wild ride, with good reason,” Leman says. “I encourage parents to talk with their kids before they become teenagers about some of the things that will happen or that they are likely to experience – including the idea that the day is coming when you are going to think your parents are really strange and don’t know anything.”

According to Leman, the goal during adolescence is not for parents to be their teen’s best friend. It is to be a smart parent.

There are three elements parents need to pay attention to as they guide their teen through adolescence:

  • Major on the majors. Not everything is worthy of concern and debate. During his teen years, Leman’s son came to the dinner table and announced he was getting an earring. His mother was frantic waiting for Leman to handle this situation. Leman did not say a word. Three days later, Leman showed up at the dinner table with an earring. Several minutes passed by before his son noticed. Kevin squinted and looked at his father with disgust and said, “You look ridiculous.” To which Leman responded, “Really? Your mother likes it.” End of discussion.
  • Learn to say positive things to your kids. Children are a gift. Make an effort to affirm your teen when he/she makes good choices.
  • Find something your adolescent can do well. Emphasize this strength and help your teen feel accepted and special.
  • “My friend Stephen Covey tells people to start with the end in mind,” Leman says. “That is exactly what I encourage parents to do. What kind of young adult do you want to see emerge at the end of adolescence? The decisions you make and the decisions your teen makes during the adolescent years will make all the difference in the outcome. I know many parents who choose to put their teen in the raft without a guide, but I believe if you are interested in the best outcome for your teenager, you will put him/her in the raft with you as their guide.”

As you navigate the whitewaters of adolescence, here are some additional thoughts on how to be a great raft guide for your teen:

  • Give your teenager freedom, but hold him/her accountable.
  • Sometimes parents are too quick to bail their teen out of trouble.
  • Are you raising your teen in a home or a hotel?
  • Mutual respect is the cornerstone of all relationships.
  • Everybody’s thoughts and feelings have value.
  • Watch your tone of voice. Rude behavior is not acceptable from anyone.
  • Use nonthreatening communication.
  • Laugh at everything you can and find reasons to have fun.

“In spite of what you might hear from the culture at large, parents DO make a difference in the lives of their children. They watch every move you make and how you live your life. Recently, I received a note from my 32-year-old daughter that said, ‘Dad, thanks for teaching me that people are more important than things and living that out in your life. Love, Holly.’

“Even if you are uncertain about your parenting skills, don’t be afraid to get in the raft and guide your teen through the rapids,” Leman says. “I have learned more from what I did wrong than all the things I did right.”

My son started high school this year and it made me reflect on his life and my own. Sometimes I find it hard to imagine not having my son with me 24/7. The truth is, we parent our teens to leave the nest from our home to another one – their own.

It’s hard for me to imagine my day-to-day life without him being in it. Raising a son has been the hardest, most rewarding and most fulfilling thing I have done in my life so far. He’s a teenager with his own mind, purpose, thoughts and feelings, and he’s very independent (which in hindsight, is a very good thing!).

As a mother, I recall when he came into my life and the challenges we faced together. He had two surgeries before his first birthday. His father chose not to be in our lives around the same time. Growing up without a father at home has very much impacted my son.

I remember his accomplishments and reaching milestones from infancy through middle school, and now he’s a freshman in high school. He is discovering what he likes to do, finding the people he wants to hang around, and discovering the world around him.

As a parent, I am beginning to understand that our lives together are blessings. I also realize that we have to remain individuals, and that our separate interests are necessary.

As he will graduate from high school soon enough, I should begin preparing my mind, my life and my heart for the day he will leave my nest to explore, grow and live his own life in his own way. I will always be his biggest fan, his cheerleader and his supporter.

I am now charged with giving him more room to figure things out for himself and to talk to him as much as possible about his choices for the future. Since I only have a few more years before he launches, I have to make sure that every second counts.

Image from Unsplash.com

Parents, teachers, coaches, gather round. If you have a teenager in your life, listen up. I may have stumbled onto some insight into the secret digital lives of teenagers.

I have some reliable info about their phones and the things they experience on social media. If you have witnessed a teen with a phone grafted onto their hand, you know that this is big stuff. Oh, and parents – lean in closer here- I’ve learned some interesting things about you, too!

I recently put together a little survey. I had my 6th grade son and 12th grade son send it out to their friends on social media. It took off. I also went to several area high schools and had a number of classes get out their phones and take my 10-question survey and pass it on to their friends. It really took off there, too.

Eight hundred completed surveys later… I have been reliably informed that my survey has popped up at a variety of area schools, public and private, and has even travelled out of Chattanooga via the information superhighway into several different parts of the country.

“Sounds good! What did you find out?”

Hang on, I’m getting there.

“C’mon… if you have good intel about teens and their phones, let’s hear it!”

Okay, but before I help you with this information, I have to confess it really hit me between the eyes as a father of five kids. I have to do better.

There, I said it. My kids need me to do better.

Here is what over 800 teenagers said about phones, social media and their parents.

Vampires that feed on Wi-Fi connections.

Right away, I noticed that some of the most alarming information wasn’t even gleaned from the students’ answers themselves, but was embedded in the survey metadata. Even though the survey is completely anonymous, each one is timestamped – showing when it was completed.

Many of the surveys were completed between 12:00-6:00 AM. My eyes widened as I scrolled through the timestamps. 1:07 AM, 1:18, 1:22, 2:03, 3:30, and on all through the night. This happened on school nights, as in nights before days when teens have to sit through classes covering Geometry, U.S. History and Shakespeare.

Google “sleep and academic performance.”

Life happens on screens.

According to research much more rigorous than my little survey, teens spend between seven and nine hours a day in front of some kind of screen. While these numbers shocked me, the students I have shared this research with have just kinda shrugged and said they think the number of hours is actually higher. Teen faces are in front of phones for a shockingly large amount of time each day. But you already knew that.

The older generation often has a hard time understanding this, but for people who grew up on phones and social media, their life happens online. They have a digital “self” that they often perceive as their “real” self. Relationships are digitized, and the phone is where they hang out.

I had a student tell me recently that 90% of her relationship with her boyfriend takes place over social media. Understand that for teens, being bullied and stalked aren’t simply not-so-great things that happened on their phone. These are traumatic things that happened to them and trigger responses similar to if it happened to them in “real life.” For teens, digital life is real life.

The meme streets of the digital city.

What exactly are teens experiencing on these devices that they are on 24/7? According to the survey, almost 60% are fending off complete strangers that contact them. Between 40-50% of teens are being sent sexual messages and pictures, as well as being solicited for sexual pictures of themselves. They are dealing with intense relationship issues like being broken up with, ignored and lied about. Almost a third of teens reported being bullied, threatened, or stalked. I had a student tell me that 10 minutes after she left a restaurant, the creepy waiter found her online and began messaging her.

Online life is real life; online pain is real pain.

What is the emotional toll of these experiences on teens? Recently, I helped lead a focus group at a local high school. When we asked about the emotions and feelings that teens struggle with, many students were quick to answer “stress” and “depression.” When pressed to explain what they believed contributed to these feelings, “social media” was the first response and was quickly affirmed by several other students.

The observations of the kids in the focus group line up perfectly with the survey’s findings. While a third of respondents reported that “social media has NEVER made me feel stress, anxiety or depressed,” 58% indicated that social media has made them feel stress, 48% indicated social media contributed to anxiety, 40% connected feeling depressed to social media, and 28% of students indicated that social media made them feel all three – stress, anxiety and depression.

Filtering these responses by grade level strongly indicates that stress, anxiety and depression resulting from social media use INCREASES as kids get older. In other words, middle-schoolers were more likely to say that social media didn’t create stress, anxiety or depression, but the number of kids who felt stress, anxiety or depression increased steadily from 9th to 12th grade. Whoa.

Social media is killing our children. There is a growing body of research on social media and mental health. Mom, Dad- get Googling.

No sheriff in the Digital Wild West?

So here is where parents swoop in and help their kids, right? This is when we parents step up and help our teens navigate these difficult online experiences and process the real life hurt. Except the survey raises serious questions about whether this is actually happening. Parents, this is where your kids were very open about you.

A whopping 60% of respondents indicated that their parents “never” check their phone and 20% indicated that their parents check their phone “a couple times a year.” Together, this means 80% of parents check their teens phone once or twice a year or never at all.

When asked, “How long it has been since the last time your parents checked your phone?” many teens answered, “Never, because my parents trust me,” or “They don’t check, they trust me.” I remember another survey I did with students two years ago where I asked them “What helps you make good choices with your phone, what keeps you out of trouble online?” The number one answer might surprise you: It was “knowing that my parents will check my phone.” Besides, your teen might really be a great kid, but bad things can still happen to them online.

If parents are not actually checking their children’s phones, maybe they are keeping tabs on their kids’ lives by being connected to them on the social media apps that they use. Some parents make their kids accept their “follow” or “friend” request, which allows the parent to see what their child is posting. Again, the survey results are not encouraging.

29% of parents are not following their teens on “any” social media apps, and just under half are following their teens on “some” social media apps. Don’t let that “some” encourage you too much. When I personally conducted the survey in classrooms, many students were very quick to tell me that the apps that their parents follow them on are not the apps they use to actually socialize with their friends. Only 24% of students indicated that their parents follow them on all their social media apps.

The family that eats together, tweets together.

So if most parents are not checking their teen’s phone and if they are not connected to their teens on social media, are parents at least having some quality conversations with their teens about their digital lives? Dinner time used to be when families sat down together and talked through the ups and downs of the day. When asked about mealtime habits in their homes, 53% of teens said their family doesn’t eat meals together. If they do, they are on their phones or watching television during the meal. Only 46% indicated that their family does, in fact, eat meals together and that during this time, people are not on their phones or watching television. If these conversations are not happening during meals, when are they happening?

You’re on your own, kid.

Connecting all of these dots paints an alarming picture. Teens have difficult and even traumatic experiences that contribute to stress, anxiety and depression through phones that parents rarely if ever check. Parents are out of the loop when it comes to social media. Dinnertime tabletalk is more and more rare. When families do share a meal together, everyone has a fork in one hand and phone in the other. So, when are parents helping their children navigate these emotionally-complicated digital waters? If the results of my survey are accurate, it seems like most teens are on their own.

The ugly truth.

If we are honest as parents, we are often not attentive to the digital lives of our children. Our own digital lives have consumed us. To peer into our children’s phones would require us to look up from our own. In the meantime, our children are wandering alone through a Digital Metropolis. There are many dark alleys, shady characters and dangerous intersections. We wouldn’t drop our kids off on the outskirts of a big city and say, “Have fun! Make good choices!”

My child’s phone is a portal to another world. I need to be walking with them and talking along the way.

Image from Unsplash.com

Parenting a teenager is a tough job. Since my teenage son has not been packing his lunches for school, he is beginning to understand what responsibility looks like as he experiences hunger during lunch. Should I feel guilty about not taking time off work to take him a lunch while also spending extra money on fast food because he didn’t think about preparing lunch ahead of time? Absolutely NOT.

As they get older, children have to learn responsibility. Picking up the pieces when our children fail to prepare enables them, and it doesn’t give them a chance to grow, learn or teach them responsibility.

As a parent, I don’t want my son to be hungry – but I also don’t want him to grow up and think that my world revolves around him or that his needs are more important than my own. What I hope he eventually learns through this experience is that he is the conductor of his own orchestra. He is capable, smart, and in the position to direct the music how he chooses. If he doesn’t want to be hungry at lunchtime, he will either have to pack it at night or get up early enough to pack it before he leaves each day.

As a parent, I believe it is my job to have food at home; however, it is not my job to enable my son. I know his future wife will appreciate the lessons he is learning early.

Here are some things you may want to consider the next time your teenager does not prepare:

  1. Scenario One: Your teenager calls because they forgot to bring their folder to school. Education is important and part of educating our teens is teaching responsibility. We want them to make good grades, but failing is a lesson they should learn early. If they forgot their folder and you don’t take it to school, what are the consequences? Let them deal with it. They will learn the lesson soon enough.
  2. Scenario Two: Your teenager calls because they need additional money on their bank card to eat out after a game with friends. Well, your teenager knew they didn’t have money before they made plans to go to the game – and their emergency does not constitute an emergency on your end. Think about the consequences and your child’s future behavior if you put money on the card.
  3. Scenario Three: Your teenager chooses not to wash clothes and has to wear dirty clothes to school. This is a personal issue. If the stench does not teach them a lesson, having to go to school in smelly clothing will, as someone will bring it to their attention. As teens, they do not want to stand out but fit in, so this lesson will work itself out.

Finally, remember to breathe. Everything can be a teachable moment for teens. I have to ask myself when situations occur, is it a battle for me or can I let things play out for my teen to learn the lesson on his own through natural consequences? You got this!

Image from Unsplash.com

Sexting And Your Teen

These tips can help you talk to your teen about sexting.

Dr. Sheri Madigan and her research team wanted to know the prevalence of sexting behavior (sharing of sexually explicit images and videos through technological means) among teens. Between 2006 and 2016, they conducted a meta-analysis, looking at 39 different studies about sexting that included 110,380 young people from all over the world, including the United States.

Studies indicate that sexting has been on the rise among teens while teen sex has declined. Findings from the meta-analysis indicate that:

  • 1 in 7 teens sends sexts, 
  • 1 in 4 receives sext messages, and 
  • 41 percent of teens are having sex according to a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  • Additionally, older teens are sexting more often than younger teens.

While boys are often portrayed as the requestors of nude images, studies show that girls and boys are equally as likely to participate in sexting. Plus, most of them use their smartphones versus a computer when they sext.

Compared to boys, girls report feeling more pressure to sext and worry they will be judged harshly whether they sext or not. If they do, there is slut-shaming. If they don’t, they are considered a prude. Boys, however, may see sexting as a way to showcase their social status.  

Many teen sexters assume the images will remain private, but the research indicates that:

  • 12.5 percent of teens are forwarding intimate photos without the sender’s consent. 
  • Another 8.4 percent of teens had one of their own sexts forwarded without their consent.

According to the research team, these findings raise some concerns and challenges. Teens may feel that sexting is an expectation if everybody else is doing it. When sexting is coerced and images are used as a form of blackmail or a threat, the combination of digital insecurity and the teen brain processes could lead to compromised safety. Since teens’ brains are still developing, their capacity to critically analyze digital tools and apps may not be enough to keep them safe. So, what can parents do to help?

If you’re a parent, Madigan encourages you to talk with your teens about healthy dating relationships, peer pressure, digital security, sexuality and citizenship. Make it an ongoing conversation where you’re being proactive instead of reactive.

Also, discuss strategies for dealing with peer pressure surrounding sexting and the potential consequences of sending sexts. Once someone sends an image or video, there is no control over who sees it. 

Family Zone offers these 10 tips to help you and your teen deal with sexting:

  • Have open and honest conversations with your children.
  • Don’t abstain from educating your own children about sex and sexualized behaviors. If you don’t educate them, somebody else will.
  • Do not assume that your child will not pass on a nude photo or take one of themselves and share it.
  • Discuss the risks of sexting, including how they would feel if their photos were shared.
  • Be very clear about the law and criminal consequences with your children.
  • Discuss their digital footprint and what that means.
  • Explain their digital citizenship responsibilities.
  • Warn your children to never share photos with people they don’t physically know offline. Consider providing examples of grooming and pedophilia.
  • Attempt to explore if these behaviors are part of a bigger problem with self-esteem and confidence. Like everyone, children like attention and reassurance, but as parents we need to help our kids find healthier ways to feel good about themselves.
  • Ensure they know who they can talk to and where they can get help if needed. They may not want that to be you, so ensure they have a safe person to confide in.

If you’d like additional resources to help guide these conversations, here are some good ones: Common Sense Media’s Sexting Handbook, Common Sense Media, Connect Safely, Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership.

The Reason Why Boys Are Struggling

Many boys are wandering aimlessly and looking for their purpose.

Activist, educator and author Dr. Warren Farrell is at it again. He co-authored The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, with Dr. John Gray. For many years, Farrell has been concerned for the welfare of boys. He believes that fatherlessness is at the very heart of the issue.

In an Institute for Family Studies interview, Farrell asserts that today’s boys often struggle with a sense of hopelessness and a lack of purpose linked in part to family breakdown and father deprivation. He also believes that boys’ and men’s weakness is their facade of strength. 

A United Nations study found boys lagging behind girls in all the developed nations. The women’s movement has really helped young girls recognize that girls can take many paths and be successful. However, while girls’ sense of purpose has grown, boys’ sense of purpose has not. Boys seem to hear either that it’s all about earning money or being a loser. Farrell wonders what would happen if we told boys that being a full-time caregiver is a worthy option.

Boys with little to no father involvement often look to their dads as role models. But without much time with their dads, their role models are more “straw men” or “straw dads,” says Farrell. 

“These boys don’t benefit from overnights, hang-out time, and the many hours it takes for boys to bond with their dads and trust that their feelings won’t be dismissed. Dads tend to build bonds with their sons by, for example, playing games and rough-housing, and then use the resulting bond as leverage for their sons to ‘get to bed on time’ lest there be ‘no playing tomorrow night.’” 

This boundary enforcement teaches boys postponed gratification, whereas boys with minimal or no father involvement are more frequently addicted to immediate gratification. Additionally, having minimal or no father involvement increases the chances of video game addiction, ADHD, bad grades, less empathy, less assertiveness and more aggression. It also leads to fewer social skills, more alienation and loneliness, more obesity, rudderlessness, anger, drugs, drinking, delinquency, disobedience, depression and suicide*. Fatherless boys are more likely to serve time in prison, too. 

In a TEdx Talk on “The Boy Crisis,” Farrell cites that since 1980 in California, 18 new prisons were built, but only one new university. There’s been a 700 percent increase in the prison population and it’s mostly a dad-deprived male population. 

As an example of the pain of fatherlessness, Farrell mentioned Anthony Sims. Sims is known as the Oakland Killer. His last Facebook post was this:  “I wish I had a father.”

Many see guns as the problem. However, Farrell contends that school shootings are mostly white boys’ method of acting out their hopelessness. He says guns are also white boys’ method of committing suicide, and serve as a reflection of our inability to help constructively track boys to manhood. He points out that girls living in those same homes with the same family values and issues are not killing people at school.

Farrell speaks of attending a party once where he learned that a men’s group formed by Farrell had impacted a man named John more than any other thing in his life. When group members asked the man, “What is the biggest hole in your heart?” he blurted out, “I was so involved in my career, I neglected my wife and my son. That’s the biggest hole and a deeper hole because I ended up divorced. I remarried and the group knew that my wife was pregnant with our son.” The group then asked, “If you could do anything you wanted, what would you like to do?” He said he would take five years off and help raise his son. Then he talked with his wife, who told him to go for it. He shared that it had been two years.

Farrell asked John if it was a good decision.“No,” he replied. “The best decision of my life. Up until I took care of my son, my whole life was about me, me, me. Suddenly it was about my son. I suddenly learned to love and be loved.” 

As they were wrapping up their conversation, someone asked for an autograph. Farrell thought it was for him, but it was for John. Farrell said, “I guess you’re famous. What’s your last name, John?” 

“Lennon,” he said. John Lennon had discovered he was not giving love by earning money as a human doing, but by being love. 

Many boys are struggling, wandering aimlessly, and looking for their purpose.

Farrell and many others believe one way to end the boy crisis is for fathers, uncles, grandfathers and other male role models to step up and stand in the gap. They also want women to encourage men in their efforts to raise men of purpose.

*If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are a number of websites and organizations with excellent resources for you. HelpGuide is a great place to start, along with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

An alert American Airlines ticket agent has been hailed a hero after preventing two teen girls from becoming part of a human trafficking scam. The girls showed up with one-way first-class tickets to New York City from California. They had no identification on them. The agent discovered the tickets purchased with a fraudulent credit card. The suspicious ticket agent denied the girls’ tickets. While the teens walked over to a Starbucks table and made a call, the ticket agent alerted authorities.

Authorities learned that a guy had invited the girls to New York City for the weekend so they could earn $2,000 performing in music videos and modeling. The teens had no idea their tickets were one-way.

Who wouldn’t be excited about earning $2,000 in a weekend? Human traffickers often portray themselves as agents to connect young people to their dream career or to easy money. But that’s not the only way people end up trafficked. Stories abound of people being preyed upon in stores, at truck stops and online.

Research indicates that while human traffickers look for the most vulnerable at-risk youth, even young people who have loving, caring parents can fall victim to traffickers.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s website:

  • In the United States, on average, every two minutes, a child bought or sold for sex.
  • The average age of a child sold for sex is 13 years old.
  • Human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry, just behind drug trafficking.

“According to the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative, 41 percent of those who are trafficked are trafficked by family members,” says Emily Aikins, director of survivor services at Second Life, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit in Tennessee. “Many people have this stereotype in their mind of the kind of person that is trafficked when in reality, victims of human trafficking come from literally all walks of life.”

Todd Womack, Senator Bob Corker’s chief-of-staff, happened to hear the International Justice Mission’s Gary Haugen speak on human trafficking a few years ago. At the end of Haugen’s talk, he made a plea to attendees, saying the only way to end human trafficking is if everybody looks around and decides what they can do to shed light on this tragedy in their own sphere of influence.

Womack and Corker took that call to heart and began working with the END IT Movement and other nonprofit organizations to envision, develop and pass into law the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, which is now operating as the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.

You may be wondering how you can help prevent young people from becoming human trafficking victims. Here are some ways anyone can help:

  • Educate yourself. Educate yourself and family members, especially your teens, and friends about the signs of human trafficking. The more educated you are, the more prepared you will be to stop it.
  • Be alert. Whether you are in a restaurant, airport, walking on the street, at a sporting event or getting a pedicure, you can help prevent children from becoming victims – just like the American Airlines agent. If something looks suspicious, alert authorities by calling 911 or the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center line at 1-888-373-7888. Tennessee’s own trafficking hotline is 855-558-6484.
  • Teach your children good internet safety skills. Know who is in your kids’ social network. Many predators connect with teens on social media and begin grooming them. Then they do exactly as the person did with the two girls headed to New York City. They offer them something too good to be true. But even though they may know their parents wouldn’t approve, they aren’t quite discerning enough to realize they could be getting themselves into a dangerous situation.
  • Talk with your teens about healthy sexuality. Help them to know that sex cannot be bought and sold.

No matter the size of your platform, everyone can do something. 

Turner Matthews, who interned in Senator Corker’s office, learned of the END IT Movement two years ago. Upon returning to his school, he painted a huge rock on campus known as the “The Rock with a red X.” This year he not only painted “The Rock with a red X,” he also created an event around it to bring attention to human trafficking issues. He, like so many others, is using his personal sphere of influence to bring light to the problem.

What will you do?