October 31st, Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve.
Every year I, along with my husband, struggle today with the innocence of our children wanting to dress up as a fireman and princess to greet our sweet neighbors and ask for candy. Why take what seems such a “legalistic” approach you might ask?
Formerly, I would have told you that our family struggle was simply not wanting to participate in anything that contradicts the moral standing we have as Believers in Christ. I wanted nothing to do with celebrating the very spiritual and very real entity I prayed against influencing my children all the other 364 days.
Although I can’t seem to find a legitimate citation for this quote, it nevertheless truthfully conveys this reality:
“I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year.” - founder of the Satanic church, Anton LaVey
This year the answer to my struggle is a little different, however.
I know too much.
Hours and hours of researching, reading, and hearing from parents these last few years means I am acutely aware of the Satanic influence that is involved in sex trafficking and on many levels. This holiday, if you could call it that, is a day we as parents are largely naive to what children suffer at the hands of abusers using children in ritualistic practices all over the world today. It’s the truth. If you have the stomach, search for testimonies of ex-Satanists or worse, their former trafficking victims. It’s deplorable. And, while children are trafficked every day, and we as parents should employ situational awareness, I want to share five trick-or-treat tips for tonight from our online, family safety course, Vigilant Families.
1. Know your children’s shoes.
The costumes of today’s celebration are a trafficker’s dream. Below is an example of how easily my Snow White was turned into looking like a little boy. It took all of three minutes to cover a costume where she was easily unrecognizable. Imagine how easy this makes a successful child trafficking abduction. Victimizers churning the 150.2 billion dollar business that is trafficking depend on ingenious practices like this -- simply swap a costume. And it’s oh, so easy to do.
Luckily, one article of clothing harder to pre-meditate is shoes. If a new costume shows up, be sure to look at the child’s shoes as these are often an unlikely item to change. As this goes out to the masses, this tip might become obsolete, so the overall rule-of-thumb is to simply to keep watch over your kids. So…
2. Always keep your eyes on your children.
Even at an outdoor church event, be sure to keep watch over your kiddos. It sounds simple and maybe trite, but the reality is that it only takes a second. Ask another set of eyes to come along if you feel you might need help. And while out trick-or-treating, the best practice is to walk your child to the door. It’s a small inconvenience, but as night falls and darkness makes it even harder to see and easier to hide mischief, your nearness could be life-saving.
3. Don’t allow your children to snack on candy while treating.
We have all heard “never take candy from a stranger” from the throwback ‘Stranger Danger’ campaign. Lol, well, that’s what today is all about. It’s the common practice of traffickers to have their victims ingest drugs or anything with hallucinogenic properties in order to debilitate or weaken their inhibitions. In fact, some victims willingly take these “gifts” given to them in order to tolerate what they know is coming. So, while inconvenient, instruct your children to wait until they get home to eat anything they collect tonight. This will give you a chance not only to look things over, but to monitor their behavior, too. We sincerely live in times where this is a legitimate concern as far fetched as it sounds. Please read Chapter Five of Unraveled: Mothering Fiercely in a World Full of Fears to understand trafficking as a business or learn more about today’s statistics at www.VigilantFamilies.org. A good parent hack is stuffing a handful of candy from home in your pocket before leaving. Your kiddos will be thankful you thought of a way to satisfy their excitement until you can get back home and check everything.
4. Be wary of overly-friendly peers.
Sadly, traffickers often use other children to lure your kiddos into trafficking. Of course, we never want out children to be fearful of friendliness -- we simply want them to be 1) alert and 2) assertive. For example, if a stranger-child asks yours to come inside their home or visit another house, coach your child, “No, my mom/dad is right there and I’m staying with my family” while pointing. Hopefully, they are pointing to you, but they can always point to another family if in a pinch. If the stranger-child is especially persistent, your child needs to know this as a red flag.
5. Lastly, enjoy any festivities as a family.
Whatever you decide to do tonight, make memories together.
Any advocate will agree vulnerability is what victimizer’s seek. Unfortunately, vulnerability is inerrant to childhood and it’s our job as parents to minimize it. At Vigilant Families and AmandaFlo.org, we always address minimizing vulnerability to trafficking through relationship (among other things). Oversight from closeness goes beyond physical proximity; closeness to their heart matters, too. Your child is not only more likely to respect your safety instructions, but they will be more resilient in the face of a trafficker’s crafty manipulation if their trust is rooted in what they know is your love for them.
All the best,
“Unfortunately, all there is to know and all we are learning every day about trafficking would fill volumes."
"Unraveled is an indispensable resource for every intentional mom I have met while serving in this industry.
Amanda not only brings awareness to child sex trafficking, and in an approachable,
peer-to-peer manner, but she preemptively addresses the concern every mom has for her child's safety
and points them back to the truth necessary to combat evil. Five stars!"
O.U.R. Jump Team Member
“This is an incredibly important book for all moms to read. Amanda has done a beautiful job of helping us ponder questions in our own hearts, while also giving us an honest look of her own family’s experiences. Her story helps to equip us so that we can better protect our children in this fallen world. You will be riveted.”
CEO of And Then There Were None and inspiration for the major motion picture, Unplanned
“The crimes I have seen against children makes Unraveled a necessity for today and
Florczykowski’s bold voice draws parents to both truth and triumph.”
-FBI Child Exploitation Task Force Officer
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