Thursday, May 11, 2017

Disturbing and harmful trends affecting children worldwide

How many of you are aware of a couple of new games children worldwide have been participating in with sometimes deadly results?  Have you heard of the "Letter X" game or the "Blue Whale Challenge"?  If you haven't, don't feel bad because many parents are in the dark regarding these deadly games.  It is imperative that you have a talk with your children, and warn them against participating in this type of activity.

The Blue Whale Challenge involves a student signing up for and agreeing to perform 50 tasks assigned at random by the game administrator.  The tasks may start off small like: listening to the radio for a certain song, watching a TV show and gradually progress to more sinister tasks like cutting themselves.  In order to win, the student must complete the 50th task which is committing suicide.

How does a student get involved? Another student usually tags them through an app called Snapchat and challenges them to play.  The student then downloads another app, The Blue Whale, which then goes through the student's personal information on their phone like a computer virus.  This app cannot be deleted once downloaded, and it gathers all of the student's personal information and as much information about their family as it can.  Once the game administrator has gathered all of this information, they use it to control the student and threaten to release info about their family or to physically harm them.  They lead the student to believe that the only way to save their family is to commit suicide.

The Letter X game also uses Snapchat.  A student send the letter "X" to another student.  The recipient is then supposed to respond with another student's name.  Once the originator has a name, they send it out to their friends to begin a campaign of cruel texts and videos about the student picked.  The students use Snapchat because the messages are generally deleted within 24 hours.  Even so, the taunts can be so cruel and overwhelming, the student may feel so embarrassed that they want to commit suicide.

As students are receiving cell phones from their parents at an earlier age, parents need to reinforce strict guidelines for their child's cell phone usage.  Cyber bullying is becoming most school bullies' weapon of choice to beat down those that they perceive to be weak.  Let your child know that tomorrow, that same bully could turn around and target them.  Ask them how it would feel to be subjected to that type of vile behavior. Lay out clear consequences for violating any cell phone or Internet rules.  These rules need to be reviewed on a consistent basis so your child is very clear about your expectations.

Do not feel you are invading your child's privacy by monitoring their cell and Internet usage.  There are too many programs and apps that give parental control lock outs and monitoring for a parent to claim ignorance if their child misuses their privilege. In most phone setting, you can control by using a different pass-code, the amount of freedom your child has with their phones.  You can cut their camera off so their cannot be enticed to upload inappropriate photos.  You can restrict what websites they are able to visit.  You are not there to be their friend.  They have enough friends!  Be the parent when they're young and then you can be their friend when they're grown.  Spend a little time today, to avoid potential heartache tomorrow.

Remember - "If you fail to plan, then plan to fail!"

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Easy methods for kids to escape zip ties or duct tape if they are ever kidnapped

It is a parents worst nightmare.  You are sitting at home waiting for your child to walk through the door from school and they never arrive.  Or perhaps you get a call from your child's school saying they never arrived.  What do you do?  What would your child do if faced with the scenario of someone grabbing them and using zip ties or duct tape to detain them?  What would you do if someone broke into your home and used zip ties to bind you and your family while they burglarized your home?  Would you be able to escape?

Here are a couple of quick videos that show methods to escape zip ties duct tape. Why zip ties and duct tape?  These two items are easy to conceal and transport for criminals.  Handcuffs are bulky, suspicious to others and make noise.  I mean think about it...If you saw a man walking around with handcuffs (especially around children) and they were not in law enforcement, wouldn't that raise red flags with you.  Zip ties can be thrown in a pants pocket out of sight, are quiet but effective.  Criminals are counting on parents not knowing how to escape from the ties themselves, much less teaching their kids how it's done.

The first video posted by Trendy World, shows a little girl using just her shoe laces to escape from her zip ties in less than 60 seconds.  This would be a good video to show your child so they have this information stored away in the back of their mind.  Most children wear sneakers so this method will be very easy for them.  Have them show you and try it themselves so they are familiar with the steps to take in the event of an emergency.  Maybe make it competition between you and your child.  As the parent, you should be familiar with these methods also.  How to escape from a zip tie in less than a minute

The second video posted by, shows three little boys escaping from zip ties in the front of their body and the behind them.  They also escape from duct tape after watching their Mom demonstrate how it's done.  This is a good video for Mom and kids to watch.  In this video the boys use just their strength and positioning to break the tie holds which may come in handy if the child isn't wearing sneakers.  How to escape from zip ties and duct tape for kids

There are several other videos available on Youtube about escaping from various ties.  It is a good idea to be familiar with different methods because you never know if you will be faced with this type of scenario.

Remember - If you fail to prepare, Prepare to fail!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Common Human Trafficking Tactics

Many parents are clueless as to how human trafficking works.  In their minds, that is a crime that happens to other families and would NEVER happen to their child.  But in reality, the number of human trafficking victims are increasing, and the tactics used to lure young girls and boys into this world are becoming more organized and complex.  Here are just a few of the common tactics these predators of the underworld use to prey on the innocent.

  • Kidnapping - is probably the first tactic that comes to every one's mind.  In this scenario, the trafficker kidnaps the victim from a public location like walking to and from their car, school, mall or work place.  Some even follow their target home and kidnap them from there.  The kidnappers are usually armed, quick and violent.
  • Boyfriending - is when a man pretends to like a young woman and grooms her to gain her trust by eventually becoming her boyfriend.  The young woman will drop her guard because she believes the man truly loves her and has her best interest at heart.  He targets her vulnerabilities by telling her she is beautiful, smart, one of a kind or supplies her with money, jewelry, cars or a lavish place to stay.  If she comes from a family who couldn't afford these types of material things, she may grow to covet these items and feel she can't leave him for fear of losing access to these luxuries.  Young women seem to be especially vulnerable to this tactic.  
  • Blind dates - Young women should be wary of blind dates.  When meeting someone for the first time, they should meet in a public place, make others aware of who and where they are meeting, and spend some time perhaps meeting publicly several times and invest time talking to them extensively before allowing the 'blind date' to know where they live or inviting them to come over.
  • Drugging at social events - This commonly occurs at night clubs, bars and on college campuses.  A person may go to a party or event and a trafficker could be there looking for new victims.  The trafficker could be a man or woman.  They target an unsuspecting victim, start talking to them and manage to slip a drug in their drink.  Once the drug kicks in, the victim appears overly drunk and the 'good Samaritan' offers to help them home.  Instead, the victim awakens to threats of violence if they don't prostitute for the predator, and/or is whisked off to unknown locations into the trafficking pipeline.
  • Befriending - Here's an example. A young girl works at a kiosk in the mall.  Then, a young shopper comes up pretending to shop and strikes up a friendly conversation with her.  The supposed 'shopper' may come several times over the course of days and weeks, and eventually exchanges numbers so they can meet outside of work. What the young girl doesn't realize is the 'new friend' is working under the direction and watchful eye of a trafficker, who may be controlling her through threats and/or violence.  The young girl, thinking she has a 'new friend', agrees to meet the other girl outside of work where she is then abducted, or they learn her schedule and grab her on her way to her car in the garage after work.  Another example involves younger children.  A trafficker or even a family member may make a young child befriend another young child and entice them to be friends by offering toys, expensive clothing or money.  Once the child is comfortable around the other child and family, they too can be shuttled into the trafficking pipeline.
  • Social media and online ads - are a very common place to find traffickers trolling for victims.  They befriend unsuspecting people through social media and establish a friendship which causes the other person to drop their guard.  Or they advertise the need for roommates and gradually gain the person's trust.  In either case, everyone has to be extra vigilant when dealing with 'new friends' online, in person and when considering moving in with strangers.
The bottom line is human traffickers are unscrupulous, and will use whatever means is necessary to target and secure a victim.  In this day and age, it is safer to be vary when dealing with that eager 'new friend' and be aware of your surroundings at all times day or night.

As parents, one of the most loving things you can do for your child is to equip them with the tools and information they will need to stay safe.  As much as we want our children to enjoy a childhood free of scary things and people, if we fail to prepare them for the dangers of this ever-changing world, then we must be prepared to fail them when we don't.