“Help me Jerry” were the only words his daughter needed to utter, but never heard.
Today on CHWR (CyberHood Watch Radio), The CyberHood Watch partners, Dave & Bill, had an exclusive interview with Jerry and Janet, parents of a young woman who sadly became the victim of human trafficking.
In addition, to Jerry and Janet were Michelle Bart from Soroptimist International (Best of Women) and the chair of the annual Northwest Conference Against Trafficking (NWCAT). As well as, Suzanne Stafford from My Internet Safety Coach, she educates on Internet safety… And, how parents can oversee their child’s Internet surfing habits and especially when to make it your business to whom they are corresponding with.
This particular human trafficking case did not involve kidnapping. What parents need to understand is this human trafficking case was the kidnapping of a young woman’s free will and complete control over her self-governing behavior. Too many individuals think human trafficking exists in some developing country; unfortunately, the developed countries are a much bigger problem.
Be assured, human trafficking is in the backyards of small town America.
The young woman in question lived in a loving home, well provided for, and looking towards a bright future in medicine. While interviewing the parents, Janet and Jerry, I could not help wonder how this could have happened to such a bright child surrounded by a loving family.
For anonymity purposes, we interviewed the parents as Jerry and Janet. As we talked with Jerry, he told our listeners that his daughter had gone online and entered a dating site Jerry called, “Plenty of Fish”, where his daughter met a man approximately ten years her senior, and who turned out to be a registered sex offender.
Jerry’s daughter arranged to meet Anthony at the theater, and unfortunately, for Jerry and Janet’s daughter, he showed up. As Jerry went on to explain, in the end, Anthony groomed their daughter using drugs, fear, and coercion, which ultimately lead to her addiction, submission, and enslavement to her trafficker.
Anthony is in prison, but what should haunt every parent is how Anthony, a trafficker and registered sex offender got around a loving and caring family. Bill and I have stated before how sophisticated predators are online, and they are certainly no match for a child.
Earlier, Suzanne brought up the point how the first thing a predator has to do is build a trust-bridge relationship. Previous guests have talked about how often children and young adults seek the attention and/or approval of another. The predator, trafficker, or pedophile understands this, and are masters of recognizing it in their victim. Once they have his or her victim’s trust, the grooming process has begun.
There is another side to trust that parents should be mindful about. I used to tell my kids “Do not think you are clever because you pull the wool over my eyes and get away with something. The only reason you can do that is because I trust you, and that is worth keeping. Do not give it away.” They seemed to appreciate that thought…Maybe they were pulling the wool over my eyes.
Janet and Jerry’s relationship with their daughter is based on years of trust, and it was at an appropriate time for their daughter to push away and prepare to go out on her own, commented Janet. She was becoming independent; nonetheless, circumstances occurred allowing her trafficker to meet through a dating service.
Some of what was happening behind the scenes that Janet and Jerry did not realize was that Anthony had taken control of not only their daughter’s phone and answering her text messages, but the control of their daughter leaving her void of any rational thinking. A psychologist friend of Janet and Jerry called it a case of “classic victim ambivalence.”
A point regarding technology and something Bill and I have discussed on previous shows are the opinions of those who consider the use of monitoring software as spying on his or her child or young adult. As Janet pointed out in her daughter’s case was Anthony’s use of monitoring software to know exactly what their daughter’s, his victim, every move or comment was regarding her digital communication.
The Internet is a prime example of how technology can be used for nefarious purposes or for greatness. Parents need to be mindful that the intent of monitoring his or her child is to keep his or her child out of harm’s way. One of the first steps in an investigation by law enforcement when a child goes missing or involving an internet predator is to check his or her online activity. Law enforcement is looking for a trail and leads to clues and the safe return of a missing child.
It is evident from Janet’s comment that criminals as Anthony understand the value of technology to control his or her victim. Another critical point that Janet brought up for parents to understand is how Anthony manipulated her daughter. Not everything was belittling or degrading; Anthony would treat her respectfully and do what normal loving couples would do, so that her daughter would believe he actually loved her.
We closed the show with Jerry sharing a few of his ideas to improve what he believed would effect a positive change in the system. Jerry’s first observation was not to release anyone back into society with a homeless status. Doing so, does not allow authorities to track efficiently the status of an individual on probation. A concern that Jerry’s daughter voiced was incarcerating a sex offender among like-minded criminals. The reason stems from Anthony’s comment that he will be able to hone and perfect his techniques for when he is eventually released. Jerry’s final comment was he wished he had been aware of organizations such as Michelle Bart’s Soroptimist International and the Northwest Conference Against Trafficking (NWCAT).
david c ballard
Radio Security Journalist
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