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Warning! Monitor your kids online as traffickers are after them

BRACO, Trelawny — American police detective, Nicholas Parrika, says parents need to monitor their children’s Internet usage as human traffickers are targeting young ones through online games.

Parrika, who is assigned to the Greenburgh Police Department in New York, United States, made the call at the opening of yesterday’s Human Trafficking International Conference, organised by the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Person at the Melià Braco hotel in Trelawny.

The detective said traffickers have been using the Internet as a recruitment platform for would-be victims, given the fact that almost every child age 10 and up has access to a smartphone.

“… More than half [of those children] are unmonitored and have full access to dating applications. Imagine your 10-, 11- and 12-year-old wanting to be dated on a website by total strangers and communicating with total strangers [while] parents are not monitoring them at all,” the detective said.

He admitted that it is difficult for law enforcers in the United States to keep up with the technology being used by traffickers, noting that predators are using popular websites and applications that are based outside of the US. It is a worldwide problem, he said.

“These predators start even in online gaming; I have had cases of a number of kids who have played games with strangers online. It opens the door, they are playing with fire because that is where they start that relationship. That’s where they start the grooming process to draw them in either meeting or trying to get them in what they want them to do — trying to get them to run away from home,” he explained.

Human trafficking, he said, was also linked to missing persons and domestic violence.

“It is all connected. Why is a child running away from home? There may be domestic violence, there may be abuse, sexual abuse; now that runaway becomes a vunerable child in our community and who do you think goes after them, our traffickers. They see them out there, they can spot them,” he said.

Head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Anti-Trafficking Persons Unit, Deputy Superintendent Carl Berry corroborated the accounts given by Detective Parrika, saying that children are subscribing to the ‘dark web’.

“The kids are going on MOCO space and the reason, I learnt recently, why they are accessing MOCO space is because it doesn’t allow you to print, download from or save. Wouldn’t that be the best place for a trafficker to roam?”

According to Berry, persons who fall victims to trafficking, except for those kidnapped, are usually seeking a better life but usually misled.

The objective of the two-day conference is to increase public awareness of human trafficking and discourage those who are not aware of it.

According to the 2018 Slavery Index, 89 million people worldwide experienced some form of modern-day slavery over the last five years.

The trade makes a profit of approximately $150 billion per annum.