Fight for Freedom – Keep our Youth and Children Safe from Exploitation

By Gladys M.

Did you know the Bible has 2000 Scriptures about poverty and justice?

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17).

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

“Therefore, it is not His design and purpose for His sons and daughters to be bought and sold. God’s heart breaks over-exploitation. And so, what does the Lord call of you? To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

When faced with darkness, with the realities of trafficking, it can be overwhelming.

But, please, don’t let this evil in our world prevent you from acting.

We are God’s instruments of choice to carry the Good News in the world – the Salvation and Redemptive power of Jesus Christ from whatever chains and bondage weigh on us.

24% of victims of police-reported human trafficking in 2020 were aged 17 and younger, 45% between 18-24, and 21% between 25-34. (

The London Internet Child Exploitation Unit saw an increase of 40% in 2022 police-reported incidents of online child exploitation in London, Ontario. (

Children and youth are most at risk of being targeted by sex traffickers. The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking in Canada is 13 years old.(

Conversations with children and youth about staying safe online against strangers and predators are a great preventative measure and first response step.

Why youth may struggle to share about exploitative relationships

Freedom / Independence

  • Youth may not want restrictions placed on relationships they have developed.
  • They may not want assistance, believing they can handle the situation themselves.


  • Youth may not want to lose friendships they have developed.
  • Youth may not want to get the person they are communicating with into trouble.


  • They may not want information or images to be shared/made public by the individual exploiting them.
  • They may not want their parents knowing what content/images they have shared online.
  • They may fear getting in trouble or being judged.

Not understanding the magnitude of the situation

  • Sexting (the sending of sexual images online) is increasingly normalized. Youth may not recognize of the situation or that they are being exploited online.
  • They may not realize that sharing nude images of someone under 18 years old is illegal.

How to talk to your kids (about human trafficking & online exploitation)

  1. Educate Yourself

Ensure you have an understanding of trafficking and exploitation, where it occurs, who the traffickers are, and indicators of grooming and trafficking.

  1. Be Direct

Have conversations about how to be safe online and in-person. Set guidelines for safe online use. Explain why guidelines are important and what to be aware of.

  1. Listen Non-judgmentally

By listening non-judgmentally, your child will feel more comfortable coming to you when faced with a difficult situation or if they are approached by strangers. Establishing trust is key.

  1. Monitor Accounts

Regularly monitoring online accounts and posts can create opportunities to talk with your child about online safety, and for your child to bring up their concerns. Set clear expectations about online use. Accountability can help keep your children safe.

  1. Have ongoing conversations

As your child develops and creates new friendships online and in-person, it is important to have ongoing conversations about safety & trafficking.

 How to talk about online safety


Explain to your child that posting personal information such as name, address, phone number, or age could put them at risk of harm.

Friend & Message Requests

Some safety tips: only accept known and trusted friends and family. Block someone if they make you feel uncomfortable or have repeated uninvited communication. Explain that there is no requirement to respond to message that are unwanted or make them feel uncomfortable.

Location information

Encourage your child to avoid posting any identifiable information such as pictures of you in front of your home or places that you frequently visit.


Discuss how sharing personal issues with the wrong person could leave someone open to manipulation and mistreatment. Encourage them to keep from posting emotional posts or those where you’re requesting, hoping, or wanting specific items or services.

Safe vs Unsafe Communication

Safe online communication: includes social media posts, texts, or emails to known and trusted people. This includes sending appropriate photos to family and friends and only sending messages that you are comfortable with others seeing.

 Unsafe online communication: includes social media posts, texts, or emails to unknown and untrusted people. This includes sharing passwords or personal information with anyone online, receiving photos that include unwanted or uninvited content, and someone sending or asking to receive sexual images or videos.

How to establish open communication with your teen

Be Curious
Approach conversations with curiosity. Teens are experienced with social media, and they can teach you many of the features of the apps they use. This can help teens feel more comfortable talking about these apps.

Communicate your love

Communicate with your children that you want what is best for them. Assure them that no matter the situation they find themselves in, that you are there for them. This can increase their willingness to bring forward their concerns to you.

Listen well
Be quick to listen. Give children the time and opportunity to speak what is on their mind and what they are thinking without interrupting them. Work together to solve issues that bother your children rather than problem-solving for them.

Talk about feelings
Encourage your child to voice their feelings. This can help create a pattern of bringing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns to you as they grow older.

Respect and Dignity

Promote and maintain your child’s dignity. If they disclose a concern to you, respect that it may not have been easy for them to do so. Create a trusting relationship with your child.

What you need to know about Snapchat

  1. What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo-messaging site that allows users to send pictures back and forth. Photos expire after appearing for a few seconds at a time.

  1. How do strangers connect?

If the user has a private account, they must accept the request to be friends before pictures can be exchanged.

If the user has a public account, anyone can send them pictures.

There is an “add users close to me” feature, which uses physical location to indicate potential friends to add.

  1. Privacy setting guidelines

Privacy settings can be set to allow “everyone” “just friends” or “custom” people to receive photos, messages, and view stories.

To ensure safety for those using Snapchat, “just friends” or “custom” is the recommended privacy setting. This does not allow strangers to send you pictures without your consent.

  1. Privacy Guidelines

Snapmaps is a feature that allows friends to see your location. For safety, it is recommended that people do not allow their location to be shared by Snapmaps.

The Quick Add feature lets you add friends quickly and indicates users that are nearby. This feature can be turned off.

  1. Engage with your kids

Remind your kids that it’s not safe to:

  • Meet-up with a person they meet online.
  • Share personal information over Snapchat.
  • Accept people as friends that they do not know.

Have open communication with your kids about the kinds of photos they are sending on Snapchat. The expiry of photos can lead users to send content, such as sexually explicit images, that they would not send on other apps.

What you need to know about Instagram

  1. What is Instagram?

Instagram is a free photo & video sharing app. Users upload photos or videos and share them with their followers or with a select group. Users view, comment and like posts shared by their friends. Anyone 13+ can create an account.

  1. How do strangers connect?

If the account is public, any other user can comment on content and message them. Even if a user’s account is private, any other user can still send them a private message to contact them. Some users create fake accounts.

Offenders may send explicit photos, make sexual comments and/or threats to children they are luring.

  1. Privacy setting guidelines
    1. Use caution when sharing content.
    2. Block or report unknown accounts.
    3. Limit the metadata in your photos.

Some images uploaded to Instagram are stamped with the geographic location of where the photo was taken. This provides people with more detail about a photo than the user intended.

  1. Content Exposure

The type of content your kid(s) are exposed to depends on whom they follow. Kids rarely limit their feeds to people they know, so it’s likely they’ll see mature content.

  1. Engage with your kids
  2. Create your own Instagram account and follow your kid.
  3. Ask for your kid’s Instagram username and password.
  4. Do spot checks with your child. Sit down together and go through their feed.
  5. Install a third-part monitoring app like Bark.

What you need to know about YouTube

  1. What is YouTube?

YouTube is a free video sharing website. Users upload videos with the option to share them publicly, privately, or in an unlisted format (where only the people with the link to the video can watch it). Users can view, comment, or like/dislike the videos that are shared.

  1. How do strangers connect?

If the video account is public, any other user can comment on content and send a message. Offenders may send links to explicit videos, make sexual comments, and/or threats to children.

  1. Content exposure

Exposure to sexual content on this platform is an issue. Not all videos are age-restricted; meaning children could potentially access sexual media content.

  1. Privacy setting guidelines
    1. Use caution when sharing content.
    2. Block or report unknown accounts.

If your child is being harassed by someone on YouTube, direct them to block the user. This will help prevent further communication from the unwanted user. If you or your child wish to report harassment in videos, channels, profiles or comments, you may do so via the YouTube reporting tool.

  1. Engage with your kids
    1. Monitor what your child is posting on their channel.
    2. Check out their favourites and which youtube channels they are subscribed to. Favourites and subscriptions can give you clues about what they are watching.

Reference: The article was originally published in Fight 4 Freedom website ( ).  Reprint with permission.  For more about Fight 4 Freedom, visit

Fight 4 Freedom is a Christian anti-trafficking organization that educates, outreaches and supports individuals impacted by sex trafficking and the sex industry.

It exists to be an active voice and advocate of justice for individuals and communities exploited by sex trafficking and to further assist them in finding necessary support systems to aid in their journey to safety, healing, and freedom.

Gladys M. is currently the International Associate Director of Fight 4 Freedom. She has been in this line of work for over ten years since she graduated from Tyndale Seminary.