Parents and guardians are being encouraged to monitor the online activities of children to protect them from becoming victims of human trafficking.
The call came from Manager of the Trafficking in Persons Secretariat, Ministry of National Security, Chenee Russell-Robinson, during a recent JIS Think Tank.
She noted that the majority of trafficking victims identified by the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) are children.
“Children are now spending more time online due to the pandemic. They are online for education, entertainment, and socialisation, so parents and guardians must monitor their activities because traffickers are also occupying the online space seeking to target children,” she said.
She noted that perpetrators may pose as online friends or potential employers to lure children, so they should not meet up with strangers they have met online.
“We are also encouraging parents and schools to educate children about trafficking in persons and how to protect themselves from becoming potential victims. Tell your children not to accept online friend requests from strangers and not to share information about themselves, such as their location online. Parents, ensure that you are aware of your child’s whereabouts and planned outings,” Mrs. Russell-Robinson said.
“Everything is not as it seems online; you have persons posing as someone they are not (Catfishing) to attract unknowing users for trafficking and other ill-intents, so children have to be very careful navigating the online space,” she added.
Mrs. Russell-Robinson also took the opportunity to invite schools to contact the NATFATIP to schedule sensitisation sessions.
“In order to prevent trafficking in persons, NATFATIP focuses on public education efforts. This includes multimedia campaigns and initiatives such as establishing Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs within secondary schools across the island, and we are welcoming more schools to partner with us on this initiative,” she said.