MOTHERS AND FATHERS PROTECTING YOUR DAUGHTERS

Some of you might know that I worked for a non-profit for a while that dealt with child sex-trafficking.  While working at Shared Hope International, I learned all sorts of disturbing facts and heard horrible stories.  I remember specifically talking to a father who was searching for his 14 year old after she was abducted.  He had learned that his daughter was in a trafficking ring, but the FBI had not been able to locate her.   I learned that America has a trafficking problem and between 100,000 to 300,000 kids (not foreign but domestic US born children) are being trafficked.  I learned that the average age of a girl going into prostitution is 11 to 14 years old.  I learned enough to make me have nightmares and quit sleeping.

After about a year, I gave up my position at Shared Hope because I wanted to spend more time with my own daughters, especially because they are at vulnerable ages. 

Working at Shared Hope opened my eyes to the number of women who have been abused or molested.  Statistics show that at least 1 in 4 women have had some sort of abuse.  I consider myself fortunate in that I never experienced what many women have experienced, but it brings to mind that I have 3 daughters and I want to protect them. 

Here are some measures that Stephen and I use to protect our girls.

1) From an early age, we talked to our girls about appropriate touch. We asked them to tell us if anyone ever made them feel funny and we listened to our girls.  If they didn’t like someone, we didn’t make them spend time with that person, especially alone.  We worked hard at keeping our girls in groups.  Isolation with an adult makes a child more vulnerable.
2) Our girls rarely do overnights.  This does not make us popular at times, but after working at camp for five years and hearing stories from teenagers about things that went on during overnights; we agreed to nix the overnights unless we absolutely knew the parents and fully trusted them to protect our girls.  I am always surprised at the number of parents that freely let their children spend the night at someone’s home without meeting the parents.  Before you let your kids spend the night, consider who lives in the house.  Are there older brothers? Boyfriends?  We always ask.  Statistics say the most vulnerable girl is one with a mom who has a boyfriend.  

When it comes to protecting children, I don’t worry about offending the adult.  The bottom line is that if I don’t know you, my child isn’t going to hang with you.

3) Many girls, who are abused, have been abused by a family member.  Ok… this is a hard one, but just because they are your relative doesn’t mean you have to trust them with your children.  I absolutely love my family, but I am cautious.  Do I sound paranoid?  Look at the statistics.  Moms listen to your children and listen to your gut, even when it comes to family.
4) Friends.  We talk about friends a lot and making good choices.  Julia once told me about a friend who was sneaking out at night.  OK…. Here is another statistic that I shared with her.  24 hours after a girl runs away or sneaks away she becomes vulnerable prey to traffickers.  Bus stations, train stations, malls and city centers are hubs for traffickers trying to befriend young teens. The father that I referred to in the beginning believes his daughter snuck out with a friend and the friend was associated with the trafficker.  Yikes!
5) Empowerment.  Our girls know that they deserve respect.  I remember when Julia was in the first grade and a boy said something very inappropriate to her.  It would have been easy to ignore, but Dad called the school and hooked up a meeting with the teacher.  The boy was disciplined and wrote Julia an apology.  Just recently, on the way home from youth group, my husband came down on one of the guys we were taking to youth group for making a “sexist” remark to Julia.  Stephen pulled the car over and kindly said (in his 6’3” demeanor), “you will not speak this way to my daughter, ever! Do I make myself clear?”  He agreed.  After the boy left the car, Julia thanked Stephen for saying something.  My husband’s response was, “Julia, you’re a princess and guys need to treat you with respect.  That boy will now go to school and tell all his friends not to mess with you.”  She laughed and agreed.

Well that is how we have protected our girls in the Jones home.  Hopefully it works and my girls won’t divulge some horrific story one day. At least my prayer is that God will protect their innocence. 

Do you have any great ideas for protecting your kids?  Please share.  I would love to hear other ideas too.

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7 Comments on “MOTHERS AND FATHERS PROTECTING YOUR DAUGHTERS

  1. Awesome post, Patricia!! I am not the mother of a daughter, instead I have two sons and when son #1 was growing up, I made a TON of mistakes as far as what he could/could not do. There are no excuses – I was lazy and didn’t give too much thought to what I was doing beyond survival (I was a single mom until he turned 18). What I did not skimp on, though, were conversations about this subject. He is now 23 and we have had dozens of conversations (maybe “hundreds” would be better) about inappropriate touching, feeling uncomfortable around someone, how to treat a girl and how to protect a girl (and why that’s his job). While he is not a believer and the road he’s traveled isn’t necessarily one I’d prefer, I am so incredibly proud of how many times I have heard him step up and speak out when a young woman in his company (even strangers) is being disrespected or hurt in any way. One time even ended with his hand being broken (he’s since learned the proper way to punch…but that’s a whole other conversation). My younger son is learning the same lessons (with some variation on the theme..).

    Teaching our daughters their power AND their vulnerability when it comes to men is huge and lately it feels like all we’re teaching them is their “power” and not how it was intended (what 11 year old needs to wear tight jeans and a skimpy shirt or a skirt that barely covers their backside????). Teaching our sons how to respect and treat our daughters may be even bigger.

    Either way, even if there were only one child being hurt in this way it is one too many. My own experiences are what fuel my anger and keep me fighting this issue. Sorry for the book – I always talk so much when I’m passionate about an issue. 🙂

    I don’t have any brilliant ideas to add, I just wanted to say GREAT job and keep it up. You may not be popular now but someday? Your girls are going to come back and say thank you (For all of my mistakes, my son still thanked me about 3 years ago for how I raised him. Apparently I made him appreciate who he is and what he has…I must have done something ok.) and they will not forget what you did and that is how they will raise their children. And so on….

  2. I am SO with you on this Patricia!!! My daughter is almost 16 and I can count on one hand where she has spent the night.Larry has also talked to a couple boys over the years about treating Hailey with respect.We’ve also given Hailey a small diamond ring , a purity ring that she wears.She got that when she got one of those ” you are a princess” talks.
    She has only had one boyfriend which lasted ten months. We never allowed them to be alone together.
    The last tip………. martial arts!!!

  3. Cynthia,
    That is how we handled overnights. We just pick them up the night of the party right after all the hoopla!! I applaude you and am thankful I am not alone.
    Patricia

  4. I appreciate your comments so much. We often are in the minority of not letting our kids do the overnight etc but again, I have heard teens tell me their tragic stories. Thanks for sharing the insight of the youth pastor. I think this is important for other parents to hear.

  5. Same here with sleep overs. We just decided from an early age that we were not comfortable with them. So, when we moved to a new state and into the new neighborhood…we were amazed at how many families would allow their kids to spend the night with us and/or invite our kids to their houses. We finally just let them know that we were not a spend the night family. We offered no excuses, simply our choice in parenting.

    I agree about the concerns about big brothers around. I remember as a young teen when I spent the night with a girlfriend who had an older brother…he ended up inviting several of his friends over. I did not feel comfortable the entire night. Praise God, there was no incident. However, I want my daughter to avoid this.

    In regards to my 4 year old daughter…the concern that I am often aware of is social gatherings that we attend where other children are present. For example, maybe we have a Sunday School gathering where the other adults bringtheir children. The adults gather and hang out while the children play in the basement or in other rooms. Like you, my background has led me to be cautious. I was a social worker and saw so many children who had been victimized acting out on other children. Because our little one is so often right on our hip, my concern for her is being victimized by other children even more so than an adult. It is even a concern for our 11 year old son. As a youth pastor, my husband has had to deal so many times with youth who have gone on school trips, camps, etc, and come home to never be the same again.

    We have just determined as parents that we are willing to look like crazy people and have totally given up on being understood and respected by everyone we know! May God bless us all in our efforts to protect his little ones!

  6. Thanks for sharing your ideas on how to protect daughters. My daughter, who’s ten, was not very happy recently when she was invited to a b-day sleep over and I didn’t let her go. I didn’t know the family very well and I knew there was an older brother there. It just made me uncomfortable. I did let her go for the cake, presents and activities, but picked her up at 8:30. I feel like God entrusts these precious kids to us and it’s our responsibility to protect them. I too pray for her and my son’s protection!

  7. Hi, I found your blog via the Compassion Bloggers India Trip link extravaganza. I don’t have tips from a parental perspective as I don’t have any children, but I just wanted to applaud you for putting up this post. I’m a law student and one of my research focuses has been on Human Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation. A lot of this interest came out of my involvement with International Justice Mission.
    Anyway, what always surprises and saddens me is how rarely this issue is talked about in the context of the United States. It’s very easy to think of it as a problem in the “developing world” and distance ourselves from it. But the hard truth is that trafficking, especially of women and children, goes on here in the States on a daily basis. Yes, law enforcement and NGOs are trying to address it, but it’s a very tough issue and the lack of public awareness plays a huge role in their ability to pursue justice.
    So, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated you posting this!

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