This is a really helpful article from Thorn about child sex trafficking, and it contains a lot of good information about how to learn more, how you can help, how to make a report etc. What I also found interesting were these two points that might have been listed under what NOT to do:
“Be an advocate for truth: Many recent conspiracy theories regarding this issue have gone viral on social media. Unfortunately, this can result in clogging up reporting pipelines and even distract from real kids who are in imminent need of support. If you see your friends posting content that isn’t factual, ask them to take it down. Point them to articles from reputable sources and be willing to have difficult conversations. Bringing this conversation into the light is a huge step forward in accelerating how the ecosystem reaches children with support.
Pause before you share: When you see something frightening, especially when it involves a child, your instinct may be to reshare the content. Please take a moment to consider the cycle of harm created by the viral spread of abuse or traumatic content before you share further. Also consider whether the information you’re sharing is accurate and from a reputable source.”
The truth matters, and emotional responses might make you feel good, but probably aren’t actually helping. Sharing a non-fact based conspiracy theory about sex trafficking rings that don’t exist, distracts from the hard work of finding the traffickers that do exist, and sharing abusive content to your social network, is also not doing anything more than passing along someone’s trauma. Unless the person you are sharing it with is in a position to actually investigate it, (see their link on how to report) all you’re doing is traumatizing more people, creating more outrage, and probably violating the terms of service of that social network, if not actually breaking the law.
So, if you’re outraged, instead of adding to a conspiracy theory hashtag, volunteer for a legitimate organization trying to help real victims, or start a fundraiser, or simply educate yourself and others by sharing articles like the one below on ways they can also help. That’s doing something that matters.