Penelope gives a very detailed explanation of how trafficking starts online, in chat around popular online video games, and how it spreads. Most of all, however, she provides an incredibly important look into what a trafficker looks for in a kid playing video games:
“I’m not telling you this to tell you to keep your kids off video games. It’s impossible and also nonsensical. I’m telling you that if you are not emotionally available for your kid, someone else will be. And just like you wouldn’t leave your kid physically alone on a dark street to be assaulted, you shouldn’t leave your kid emotionally alone on the Internet.
Traffickers look for kids who have no emotionally available adult. Emotionally available adults are not just “a phone call away” or “always at home”. Emotionally available adults are not consumed with their own emotions, they know what’s going on day to day, they listen carefully, and genuinely care.
Traffickers know this and they ask kids all the time “what’s going on?” and “how is your day”? and traffickers listen very carefully so they respond in a way that is meaningful to the kid.
Video games aren’t dangerous. Emotional neglect is dangerous.”
I have talked about this before as well. Kids who are unlikely to keep secrets from their parents and other adults in their lives that they feel safe with make for bad targets. Approaching a kid with a well-developed sense of self and open communication with their parents is how traffickers get caught, and they are not trying to get caught.
The best thing you can do to protect kids is to provide a safe place for them with you. Because you can’t watch them every moment of every day.