Grandparents that are part of the Northland Grandfamilies program were shocked when they heard about the increasing dangers of domestic minor sex trafficking.
“It is scary, and it is sad,” Bridgette Drake said. “It was just unbelievable that people would take children.”
“I am shocked at this, and I can’t even imagine anyone touching my grandchildren like this,” Mary Netherton said. “It really hurts to see another child like this."
Russ Tuttle with the Stop Trafficking Project said it’s a serious issue in the greater Kansas City area he wants to bring awareness and action to through education.
“There's such a demand in the greater Kansas City area of mostly men looking mostly through online resources to purchase children for sexual purposes,” Tuttle said. “So we've found in the greater Kansas City area, we've gotten a higher demand business.”
Tuttle spoke with this particular group of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, discussing the role social media can play.
"We'll actually name some, several of the apps that caring adults need to be aware of, because these are a lot of the apps that are used in the recruitment of kids,” Tuttle said.
Tuttle said to monitor apps such as: Kik, WhatsApp, 9Gag, Ask.fm, Snapchat, Vine, Music.ly, Whisper, Chat Roulette and Tinder.
Netherton, who has 10 grandchildren, said it was an eye opener.
“It really breaks your heart, it really does,” she said. “I've got a lot of work at home. To me this is life changing really.”
Tuttle said he’s spoken to roughly 20,000 students over the past 18 months.
“39 percent of the students that we have presented to are indicating that, 'Yes I have met someone in person after having met them online and or actively sending nudes,'” he said.
Tuttle encourages parents and grandparents to be active and know what their kids are doing on their social media accounts.
“Don't try and be your kid's best friend, be their parent,” he said. “You own that device so every password, that belongs to you. You have the right to check that device every single day.”
Here’s what to look for when checking your children’s cellphone:
- Increased text usage
- Late night activity
- New contacts added
- Any unknown calls coming in
For more tips and information, click here.
Tuttle will speak at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19 at Platte Woods United Methodist Church, 7310 NW Prairie View Road, Kansas City, Missouri.