I don’t talk much about my job as a human trafficking prosecutor, but since this press release was released today, I wanted to talk about how my job, specifically my knowledge of human trafficking affects my parenting.
Twenty-one people from Georgia face human trafficking charges after an undercover sting involving state and local law enforcement, according to the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office.
The arrests included the capture of two Floridians in Atlanta who were wanted on charges of murder and sex trafficking in the case of a 14-year-old girl.
According to a news release, the FBI’s Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force arrested 54 adult prostitutes, seized nine firearms and saved one juvenile from sex trafficking in addition to the alleged pimp arrests.
There is so much this article missed, like the buyers/dates/tricks who were arrested for both pandering and trafficking, and the multiple juveniles recovered last week and every week that were just not recovered in this operation, and the intense work and care and heart that the officers put into these operations, and the adult trafficking victims coerced into this, and the “willing” prostitutes that aged out of child protective services without so much as an ID to their name and don’t know another way to survive.
But that isn’t the purpose of this post. That is a story for another day. This is a post about parenting. It’s a post about how the things I see and hear affect what I value.
- First and foremost, I want Zoya to know she is loved and valued. I don’t ever want to have to tell her not to sell her body, as many of these girls were told by parents, caretakers, and teachers, because she should know she is worthy of someone laying down their life for her and not $50. (Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Eph 5:25)
- I want her to know she doesn’t have to take care of herself alone. I want her to know that she has friends and family, but that even if all that fails, God provides. She doesn’t have to find some man to buy her what she needs; again, as my girls are taught.
- I want her to be confident that she can take care of herself, knowing that God is always with her. I want her to be able to identify and know how to use the gifts God has given her.
- I want her to have self-control, because substance abuse gets so many girls into this life. Trafficker pimps see these girls as vulnerable and exploit that vulnerability by selling them over and over, and trafficker buyers take advantage of that vulnerability by buying their body for a quick 15 minutes.
- I want her to be strong-willed with strong opinions.
I know some parents fear the strong-willed child. But every time she threw herself on the ground in a temper tantrum yesterday, I pictured a pimp trying to control her, and I smiled. (We’ll also save for another day my inability to lay my job aside when I am home.) She will have to learn to obey Mommy and learn quite a bit of self-control, I don’t want to break that will.
We wanted strong-willed. We got strong-willed. I was told I’d regret that. I don’t. She will exhaust me, because I couldn’t be more different; but I’m so grateful for the challenge. I know there is value in those that seek to find compromise with others and keep the peace. I tend to have those qualities myself. But those qualities scare me, so I’m glad I’m blessed with this child.
Zoya has strong opinions. My closest cousin always had strong likes and dislikes and I nearly idolized her for it. If she wants to wear the crazy outfit, I want to say yes. If she wants all the toys in the bathtub, yes. If she wants to stand up in the bathtub, no.
I know it’s important to sent boundaries, but it is not important to make a clone. It’s also not important that she not embarrass me. It’s also not important that others not judge me.
I want to help her learn who she is and learn about the amazing treasure God created when he created her. I want to help her explore the world and figure out all the many things that make her unique and precious.
I want her to value herself as a daughter of God so that she can recognize manipulation and stand against it. I want her to learn to find what is right by herself and make decisions based on things that matter to God, not others.
I have another list of things to teach her to keep her from being a trafficker like respect for life, respect for others, protecting the vulnerable, kindness and helping those in need. But that can also be a list for another day.
So if your child is passive, help them discovery their likes and dislikes, and show them that you value their person. And if you are about to pull out your hair, because your child is stubborn as a mule, breathe a sigh of relief. You have many challenges ahead, but I will probably never find her in a hotel room.