Prepare Your Child for Changes

The start of the new school year brings many changes, such as starting school for the first time, moving to a new school, starting a new grade, or transitioning into middle or high school. These changes can feel big and scary for many kids, creating anxiety about starting the new school year. This is completely normal. A great way to help your child cope with this anxiety and feel prepared for the school year is to talk to them about any changes they might experience!

Encourage your child to ask any questions they may have about the changes for the upcoming school year. Allow them to express their fears, anxiety, and/or excitement about the school year and recognize and normalize their feelings. You can even reach out to your child’s teacher to ask about expectations and get suggestions to help your child feel more prepared. 

Change is hard, but by opening up a conversation about your child’s fears and worries, you can work together to find ways to feel prepared and ease their anxiety!

Ask Your Kids How They’re Feeling

The back to school transition can be filled with both excitement and anxiety for your kids. When getting ready to start the new school year, it’s important to ask your child how they’re feeling about going back to school. Let them know that you are available to listen and care about their feelings. 

If your child is experiencing anxiety about going back to school, listen and empathize with their feelings. By acknowledging your child’s feelings, you are showing them that you are a source of support. Talking to your child about the back to school transition so that they know what to expect can also help ease their anxiety. 

Another way to help prepare your child for the start of the school year is to talk about the things they are looking forward to. This can help shift their perspective and focus on more positive and exciting aspects about going back to school. 

Avoid Over-scheduling

With the many different schedules and commitments of each family member, families often feel overscheduled, leading to stress and anxiety. When families are overscheduled, it can be difficult to establish consistency and keep up with expectations. Though the start of the school year brings opportunities to sign up for new and exciting activities, it is important for families to carefully consider how they would like to manage their time throughout the year. Avoid signing up for more than you can handle, and instead, focus on choosing activities and commitments that are most important to your family.

It is also important to leave room for flexibility and spontaneity in your schedule! This gives your family the freedom to go on fun and exciting adventures throughout the school year. 

Create a Structured Morning Routine

Mornings can feel crazy and rushed with all of the things that need to get done before heading out the door! However, creating a structured routine can help smooth out hectic mornings and make getting ready for the day ahead easier. Try doing some things the night before to reduce you morning to-do list, such as packing lunches and backpacks, setting out clothes and shoes, and planning breakfast. 

Create a family to-do list for weekday mornings to help your kids get ready for school! Go over tasks with your kids and be open to suggestions and reordering in a way that works best for everyone. You could even try writing down and laminating a checklist of tasks to help your kids remember what they need to do in the mornings. Keep in mind that it will take some time to adjust to a school-year morning routine, so try your best to be patient and flexible!

We’re all human and are bound to hit bumps in the road, so try not to get discouraged if there are days when everyone is feeling extra cranky and getting out the door feels impossible. Be ready to readjust your schedule when needed, and remember, all you can do is try your best!

Ease into a School Sleep Schedule

Sleep schedules often change during the summer, with kids going to bed and sleeping in later than they would during the school year. An important part of getting ready for the new school year is getting back into a school sleep schedule. However, it can be tricky to adjust sleep schedules last minute. 

To help your kids have a smooth transition into a school sleep schedule, move their bedtime earlier and have them wake up early the week before school starts. This will help you and your child feel ready for early morning routines when school begins, while ensuring that your child is well rested and ready to take on the school day!

Tips for a Great Back to School Transition: Series Intro

Summer is coming to an end, and the new school year is right around the corner. That means it’s time to get ready for the back to school transition! This can look different for every family, as each child adapts differently to transitions and change. For some families, children are excited to go back and see their friends, while for others, their child may experience anxiety and fear about starting the new school year. 

The back to school transition can be a bit more challenging for kids facing big adjustments, such as starting school for the first time or moving to a new school this year. However, even moving up a grade can present challenges and create anxiety for kids.

Though the back to school transition can be challenging, especially when kids are facing lots of changes, the good news is that, with some preparation, you can make those first few weeks of school easier for you and your child. Throughout the next week, we will be sharing tips to help you and your family have a great back to school transition this year!

Human Trafficking Prevention & Resources

By Eleanor Beeslaar and Maria Harkins, Family Service of the Piedmont

Now that we have a better understanding of what the warning signs and red flags of human trafficking are, we’ll explore what to do if you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, what you can do to keep your family and community safe, and what recources are currently available for victims. 

We are able to play a role in helping current victims of human trafficking, while also preventing future victims. If you suspect that someone may be a victim of human trafficking, it is important to ensure your own safety first. Do not approach the victim, as this can put both you and them in danger. Instead call 911 or your local law enforcement and try your best to gather information that can help law enforcement. If you notice that they are near a vehicle, try to write down the license plate, make, model, and color of the car. You can also take note of the victim and trafficker’s descriptions and any names or other information you may overhear. This information can be of great value to law enforcement when trying to intervene and help the victim.You can also report suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) using a variety of different methods:

We can also help prevent human trafficking by educating family members, children, and community members about what it looks like, how it occurs, who is at a higher risk for being trafficked, and what warning signs to look out for. This includes talking about online safety and the precautions available to keep traffickers from identifying victims through the internet and social media. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends setting your profile to private so that only your friends and family can access your account and contact you. It is also important to be aware of the information you are sharing online and avoid sharing personal information such as your address, contact information (email/phone number), school, or any password/user information. You should also avoid meeting up with someone who you met online in person. Parents can help keep their children safe my monitoring their online activity and setting safety rules about using the internet and social media (3).

The National Human Trafficking Hotline also has valuable information to help you stay safe and identify potential human trafficking situations. Their Safety Planning website page includes information about potential red flags for human trafficking situations, general safety tips, online safety, safety apps, and safety tips for a variety of situations (suspicious employment, domestic/international travel, suspicious/controlling relationships, etc.). 

Another important part of preventing human trafficking, is being aware of the resources and protections available to help victims. Below is a list of some of the resources and protections currently available:

  • The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) enables the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide federal benefits to foreign victims of human trafficking (2).
  • T nonimmigrant status, or T Visas, allow victims of human trafficking to remain in the U.S. for up to 4 years if they have helped law enforcement in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking (1).
  • The National Human Trafficking Hotline can provide 24/7 assistance to victims and can also connect them to national and local organizations who can provide additional help and resources.
  • There are also many community resources available to help victims of human trafficking including shelters, food panteries, soup kitchens, faith-based organizations, medical clinics, legal aid clinics, etc. 

We hope the information we’ve provided throughout the past few days has helped you gain a better understanding of what human trafficking is and what steps you can take to help prevent it!

References

 

  1. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (2018). Victims of Human Trafficking: T Nonimmigrant Status. Retrieved from https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/victims-human-trafficking-other-crimes/victims-human-trafficking-t-nonimmigrant-status 
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Services Available to Victims of Human Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/orr/traffickingservices_0.pdf

  3. U.S. Department of 

    Homeland Security. (n.d.). Online Safety. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/online-safety 

Maria Harkins has over a decade of experience working directly with victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. As a seasoned advocate she is passionate about human rights. A native to Puerto Rico and fluent in both Spanish and English, Maria worked directly with the Latino and immigrant population. With an extensive background in human services she is now the Human Trafficking Outreach Specialist for Family Service of the Piedmont. She holds an Associate Degree in Business from Boston University, and a Computer Engineering Certification from Control Data Institute in NYC. Prior to taking on the role of an advocate Maria worked for Digital Equipment Corporation in Massachusetts where she was one of the first women to work as a Computer Engineer. 

Maria is a mother of two wonderful adult children. She loves music, art, dancing and travelling. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her partner of six years, Wayne Epperly a local artist, visiting galleries and enjoying art. Her favorite quote is “In the winds of change we find our true direction”.

To learn more about Maria, visit our earlier post, Human Trafficking 101: Not in My Neighborhood, where you can find her full bio.

Warning Signs of Human Trafficking

By Eleanor Beeslaar and Maria Harkins, Family Service of the Piedmont

Though human trafficking often goes unnoticed and unreported, we can help change this by becoming more educated about what human trafficking may look like and recognizing potential red flags. Below are some warning signs that may indicate human trafficking (information sourced from the Polaris Project and the Nevada Attorney General):

  • The person exhibits signs of trauma and psychological distress (anxiety, depression, nervousness, paranoia, fear, submissive behavior, etc.).
  • The person shows signs of substance abuse and/or addiction; traffickers may force victims to use drugs/alcohol, creating dependency.
  • Appears nervous, anxious, and/or fearful around law enforcement.
  • The person shows signs of poor physical health, such as poor hygiene, malnourishment, and/or fatigue.
  • They have few or no personal belongings.
  • They appear to be monitored frequently.
  • They avoid eye contact and uses scripted or rehearsed responses when engaging in social interaction or asked questions.
  • They are always accompanied by someone else in public.
  • Someone speaks for them.
  • They are isolated from friends and family.
  • They do not have control of their own money, financial records, bank account, or identification documents (passport, ID, visa, etc.).
  • They are unsure of their surroundings or appear to have lost sense of time. 
  • The person may claim that they are visiting the city they are in and is unable to clarify or provide specifics, such as an address.
  • The person’s story sounds scripted, confusing, and/or inconsistent.
  • The person is not free to come and go at will.
  • They are unpaid or only paid very little.
  • They work excessively long or unusual hours and do not receive proper breaks.
  • There are high security measures in their work or living locations (security cameras, boarded windows, barbed wire, etc.).

Below is a list of questions, created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that we can ask ourselves to be proactive and spot the warning signs of human trafficking in our community:

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, or community organizations?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person’s behavior changed suddenly or dramatically?
  • Is someone under the age of 18 engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused? Are they showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in different stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often with someone seems to be in control of the situation (i.e., speaking for them; controlling who they talk to or where they go)?
  • Does the person seem to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions or appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Can the person leave or go freely? Do they live under unreasonable security measures?

DHS also created an easy to read infographic with many of the questions above. It contains a checklist to help you determine if someone is a potential victim of human trafficking.

Though many of the warning signs and red flags of human trafficking were covered in today’s blog, our list is not comprehensive. It is important to continue to educate ourselves about the indicators of human trafficking to ensure the safety of our loved ones and our community at large. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog, where we will be discussing what to do if you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, as well as what resources are available for victims.

References:

Nevada Attorney General. (2012). Warning Signs of Human Trafficking. Retrieved from http://ag.nv.gov/Human_Trafficking/HT_Signs/ 

Polaris Project. (2019). Recognize the Signs. Retrieved from https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/recognize-signs 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (n.d.). Indicators of Human Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/indicators-human-trafficking 

Maria Harkins has over a decade of experience working directly with victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. As a seasoned advocate she is passionate about human rights. A native to Puerto Rico and fluent in both Spanish and English, Maria worked directly with the Latino and immigrant population. With an extensive background in human services she is now the Human Trafficking Outreach Specialist for Family Service of the Piedmont. She holds an Associate Degree in Business from Boston University, and a Computer Engineering Certification from Control Data Institute in NYC. Prior to taking on the role of an advocate Maria worked for Digital Equipment Corporation in Massachusetts where she was one of the first women to work as a Computer Engineer. 

Maria is a mother of two wonderful adult children. She loves music, art, dancing and travelling. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her partner of six years, Wayne Epperly a local artist, visiting galleries and enjoying art. Her favorite quote is “In the winds of change we find our true direction”.

To learn more about Maria, visit our earlier post, Human Trafficking 101: Not in My Neighborhood, where you can find her full bio.

Who are the Victims of Human Trafficking?

By Eleanor Beeslaar and Maria Harkins, Family Service of the Piedmont

Now that we have a better understanding of what human trafficking is, we’ll take a closer look at who the victims are, some common misconceptions about victims, and how traffickers force, control, and coerce victims.

Who are the victims of human trafficking? 

Vctims of human trafficking can be any age, race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, or level of education. They come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, have varying immigration statuses, and they can be from any community (3).

Though anyone can be at risk for human trafficking, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of being targeted. Traffickers often target victims who are in more vulnerable positions and prey on individuals who experience poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, and social discrimination (6). Youth who are homeless or have runaway from home are especially at risk for becoming victims of human trafficking (6). Some victims of human trafficking are brought into the U.S. from other countries, often on work or student visas. Traffickers control these victims by withholding documents, such as visas or identification, and exploiting the victims’ unfamiliarity with their surroundings and the culture, laws, and language in the U.S. (6).

Traffickers also use the internet and social media to target victims (1). They have people who search internet chat rooms looking for vulnerable victims, and they may lure victims by advertising false job opportunities or building an intimate relationship with them (4). There are online safety precautions your family can take to prevent human trafficking. You can find more information about precautions in our blog post this Thursday!

What are some common misconceptions about victims of human trafficking?

Though awareness about human trafficking is increasing, there are still misconceptions about the victims. We will take a look at some of these misconceptions and discuss the reasons they are not true.

  • Victims are controlled and held against their will using physical force and restraints.
    • While in some cases this may be true, traffickers often employ a range of tactics (psychological means of control, isolation, threats, etc.) to coerce, control, and manipulate victims (1).
  • Human trafficking must involve transportation accross borders.
    • Though some victims of human trafficking are transported accorss country or state borders, many are trafficked within or near their communities, never crossing borders (1).
  • Victims of human trafficking are only undocumented immigrants or individuals born in different countries.
    • Human trafficking affects people of any nationality or immigration status. Many U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and visa holders are trafficked every year (5).
  • It’s not human trafficking if someone was paid or initially consented to their situation/
    • Payment or initial consent prior to a trafficker’s use of force, fraud, coercion, manipulation, etc. does not negate the crime of human trafficking (1). It is never the victim’s fault.
  • Victims will readily seek help or try to escape their trafficker.
    • There are many reasons why victims of human trafficking may not seek help or try to escape. They may be afraid for their lives or their families, feel ashamed, or blame themselves. Traffickers may also train victims to act or behave a certain way around other people or when in public to avoid discovery (1). Additionally, victims may not have the means, resources, or agency to seek help.

How do traffickers force, coerce, and control victims?

Human traffickers use force, fraud, coercion, threats, lies, and manipulation to lure and trap their victims. They exploit victims’ vulnerabilities and take away their power and autonomy. They also make promises to address a victim’s needs, such as employment, food, shelter, etc. Because of this, victims may feel dependent on the trafficker and unable to leave the situation (6).

Traffickers may use physical abuse and force to control victims. This may include forcing victims to take drugs, leading to addiction and dependency on the trafficker. However, more commonly, traffickers use psychological means of control, such as manipulating victims to believe that they love or need the trafficker. They use threats and other psychological tactics to instill fear, preventing the victims from feeling that they have any personal agency and are unable to leave (1). Traffickers withhold immigration and identification documents (visas, passports, green cards, etc.) and threaten imprisonment or deportation if victims contact authorities (1). They also threaten the safety of the victims’ families or threaten to expose the victim’s circumstances to their families, which can lead to feelings or fear and shame (1). Traffickers also control victims by withholding and/or controlling their money. They may also force and control victims through debt bondage, where the victims are told that they have an undefined or increasing amount of debt (1).

Traffickers may use a combination of these different tactics to coerce, control, and manipulate victims. It is important to be aware of the complexity of this issue and understand that victims often have little or no power or autonomy in their situation.

References

  1. Administration for Children and Families (2019). Myths and Facts about Human Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/otip/about/myths-facts-human-trafficking 
  2. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (n.d.a). Online Safety. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/online-safety 
  3. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (n.d.b). What is Human Trafficking? Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/what-human-trafficking  
  4. Polaris Project. (2019a). Human Trafficking and Social Media. Retrieved from https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking-and-social-media 
  5. Polaris Project. (2019b). Human Trafficking Myths and Facts. Retrieved from https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking-myths-and-facts 
  6. Polaris Project. (2019c). The Victims and Traffickers. Retrieved from https://polarisproject.org/victims-traffickers 

Maria Harkins has over a decade of experience working directly with victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. As a seasoned advocate she is passionate about human rights. A native to Puerto Rico and fluent in both Spanish and English, Maria worked directly with the Latino and immigrant population. With an extensive background in human services she is now the Human Trafficking Outreach Specialist for Family Service of the Piedmont. She holds an Associate Degree in Business from Boston University, and a Computer Engineering Certification from Control Data Institute in NYC. Prior to taking on the role of an advocate Maria worked for Digital Equipment Corporation in Massachusetts where she was one of the first women to work as a Computer Engineer. 

Maria is a mother of two wonderful adult children. She loves music, art, dancing and travelling. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her partner of six years, Wayne Epperly a local artist, visiting galleries and enjoying art. Her favorite quote is “In the winds of change we find our true direction”.

To learn more about Maria, visit our earlier post, Human Trafficking 101: Not in My Neighborhood, where you can find her full bio.