I received a direct message (DM) via Instagram today from a 13-year-old girl asking me what “burnout” meant.
She was asking because of a reel that my social media manager, Nadia, posted for me.
I explained and this young lady went on to share that she felt tired of life and asked if I could help her if she showed me a list that her therapist had instructed her to write.
It felt a bit weird because as you know, I am not a therapist and this conversation was coming from a minor I do not know.
Also, this child doesn’t know me AT ALL.
After reading the list, I felt like reaching through the online world and hugging her. She was in pain and she was confused. She needed someone to hear her out, which is what I did.
I also advised her to speak to someone she trusts aside from her therapist.
But this situation left me thinking about the many kids who reach out to complete strangers when they are so vulnerable.
There are a lot of dangers in that. Sadly, many kids are lured into having conversations and relationships with people who they believe they can trust without truly knowing them.
Listen, what I’m trying to say here is that when you don’t allow kids to express themselves, when they don’t feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns, their pain, and even with their happiness, they will run to people who might not have their interest at heart.
Those people might take advantage of them by exploiting their emotions.
Kids are more prone to being exploited and trafficked now than at any other time in our history.
Child predators and human traffickers in the U.S. (and worldwide) heavily use social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and others to find victims. That means that they are speaking to those who are vulnerable.
They listen to them, gain their trust, and eventually, they meet in person and…you know the rest of the story.
In case you didn’t know, the month of January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, but we should be educating ourselves about it year-round.
In 2016, there were 4.8 million people around the world who became victims of sex trafficking. And it’s not just girls. Boys are being targeted as well.
So, I urge you to keep this in mind. No parent ever thinks that their child is going to be targeted, but there have been 4.8 million people in the world who were someone’s son or daughter who lost their freedom, and who also died from the abuse caused by those who exploited them.
When we don’t take at least 15 minutes a day to truly have conversations with our children, they are more likely to go to someone else who could exploit them.
Fifteen minutes is nothing. But sadly, some parents are not able to spend that amount of time learning about what is going on in kids’ lives. This is not a blame game. I'm not saying you are a bad parent. I know that you have a lot of responsibilities and that you are doing your best.
I just urge you to think about how much you know about what’s going on in your kids’ lives and make necessary changes if needed.
You've got this!