Posted in Parenting, Public Service Announcements, raising kids, Teen

Human Trafficking: Crimes against our Teens #2

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy work week. I did manage to get some writing done and I also got a couple of days of running in for the week. I skipped yesterday, though because I was in the zone with my writing. Anyway, enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about keeping our kids safe.

Photo credit: yooperann on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Last month, I received an e-mail from our school informing us that there had been a suspicious vehicle reported at one of our bus stops. Now, I take my kids every morning to the bus stop for just that reason. I’ve watched enough of shows like “Discovery ID” and “Forensic Files” to know how these predators work. They pick a kid and learn his schedule and wait and when he or she is vulnerable they grab them. So, I get up every morning and get those kids to the bus. I make sure they get on.

Photo on VisualHunt

We must be this vigilant now. Human Trafficking is big business. According to this article, Human Trafficking   your child is worth $300,000 a year to a trafficker. That’s a lot of cash. What exactly is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.

How do these traffickers work? Well, they start out grooming your child. They pick the ones who are needy. For example, if the child doesn’t have an authority figure in their lives or they come from a broken home and don’t have many friends. This predator comes into their lives and befriends them, gains their trust, makes all kinds of promises to solve their problems. Then when they’ve got him or her hooked, they start exploiting that trust and the trafficking starts.

Photo credit: dualdflipflop on VisualHunt.com / CC BY

How do we combat this?

We fight this by being involved parents and vetting the people our kids hang out with. If there’s an adult that’s giving them special attention, maybe even buying them gifts, this is a huge red flag. If you’re involved in your child’s life, they’re going to back off because they won’t get your kid to depend on them like they need to, so they can exploit them.

These human traffickers are everywhere. They’re teachers, politicians, coaches, priests, and school counselors. Be aware of the people in your children’s lives. The traffickers won’t waste their time if you’re an involved parent. They target the kids who they feel they can exploit. Right now, it is the second largest criminal enterprise in Michigan. So, let’s put a stop to this and keep our kids safe.

Photo credit: m_shipp22 on VisualHunt / CC BY

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Do you have any ideas how to protect our kids? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Human Trafficking: Crimes against our Teens

Posted in Slice of LIfe

Summer Fun: A Slice of Life Post

 

Write. Share. Give.

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post. We have just returned from our vacation on Torch Lake. So as I’m writing this, I’m also doing a boat load of laundry. 🙂

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Sunset on Torch Lake with the fam!

 

We stayed at the cottage most of the time because the days were hot and it’s so nice to walk out our back door and jump in the water. I love Michigan summers. The humid days and the hot steamy nights. I love lying awake and listening to the waves lap the shore. And the sunsets! Oh, the sunsets are the most amazing thing. The yolk of the sun winking at us as it slides past the horizon, turning the sky gold and fuchsia while sinking further below the skyline.

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Sunset on Torch Lake (It was windy!)

Then there’s looking at the moon and sometimes you can see Mars if the sky is clear enough. Our earth is such an exceptional place and so many of us don’t appreciate it. We’re locked in our little lives, dealing with our day to day hassles and irritations that we forget to look at the sunset, or listen to the rain, or watch lightning streak across the sky.

We all need to stop and take a breath and look and LISTEN. Listen to the birds chirping in the trees, listen to the water breaking on the shore, listen to the night as we settle down for sleep. It brings such a sense of peace and we realize our problems don’t need to consume us. We can let go of them for a little while and just appreciate being here.

I love the wonder of nature and all its beauty don’t you? I hope I’m fostering a love of nature in my boys. I’m always pulling them outside to look at the moon and Mars. They see me taking pictures of the sunset. They look, but I don’t think they truly see. Well. Maybe they do. They just don’t see at the same time I do. 🙂

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This is my youngest’s contribution to my sunset photos. 🙂 He’s a photobomber!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. If you’d like to read other Slice of Life Posts, click here..

 

Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids, Teen

“Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution”

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m discussing an organization that is fighting the problem of Human Trafficking. It’s an insidious crime against our teens and I’m sad to say that Michigan is ranked number two in this arena.

The organization I’m talking about is S.O.A.P. Have you heard of it? It’s the acronym for “Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution.”  S.O.A.P. was founded by author, advocate, and survivor, Theresa Flores.  To read Theresa’s full story click here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theresa_Flores

Theresa became a victim of Human Trafficking when her family moved to an upper-crust neighborhood in Detroit. This abuse went on for two years. Theresa would be pulled out of class to be sold, but would return home every night. (You don’t want to get me started on the fact that the school officials looked the other way. That’s a whole blog post by itself.) Her family knew nothing of her situation. She kept it a secret because of threats against her family and fear of exposure. That’s how these traffickers work. They use the adolescents’ fears and shame against them, and this makes them extremely successful and very dangerous.

S.O.A.P. reaches out to the victims at their lowest points. This organization travels to cities who are hosting big events like sporting events, auto shows, or art competitions and distributes soap to hotels with an emergency number listed on it. This number puts them into contact with authorities who can come save them from their situation.

This organization also trains hotel staff about Human Trafficking and what the signs are, so they can report any suspicious activity to authorities as well.

Parents also need to educate their children about Human Trafficking and how these criminals manipulate and control their victims. Our teens need to break the code of silence that is imposed on them by the traffickers and allows them control.

If this code of silence is broken the traffickers have no power over their victims, and it will be much more difficult to continue perpetrating these crimes.

One other area that needs examination is the customers of the Human Trafficking Industry. This industry is very lucrative. Where are these customers coming from? Don’t they realize the girl they’re abusing is someone’s daughter? Could be their daughter? I believe we need higher penalties for the men who pay for this. Without customers this industry would dry up.

We’re all accountable when an industry like this flourishes. What can you do in your community to stop Human Trafficking?

More of Theresa’s story

Human Trafficking: Crimes against our Teens

Posted in Family, Health, raising kids

What Cancer has Taught Me

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! It has been a while since I’ve posted on my blog. Sorry about that, but I’ve been busy with surgery, vacations, and the kidlets! I’ve also had trouble finding a topic. It seems that I’ve written either a guest post or a post for my own blog on just about everything. 🙂 (I know that’s not true, but it feels that way.)

Then it hit me. I could write about what cancer has taught me. I know. Another post about cancer, but it’s a good one. I promise. (Insert sincere smile here.) When I was younger and working in the competitive environment of insurance sales and something or someone would bother me. I used to ask myself this question. “If I found out I had cancer, would this particular incident upset me?” Surprisingly, the answer was always. “No.” In that instance, I would put the episode behind me and focus on what I needed to accomplish for that day. I tried hard not to wallow in negative emotions. Although, sometimes I did. 🙂 I am a work in progress, after all.

It’s quite ironic I was diagnosed twenty years later with cancer. Does that make me psychic? 😉

Anyway, it’s funny what cancer teaches you. That’s right. There’s a positive side to having cancer. It wakes you up. It gives you clarity. For example, I struggled with being a stay at home mom. Working has always given me a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. For moms who work hard for those teachable moments with their kids while battling the mountain of laundry that seems to come with them, there’s no crowd cheering you on. There’s no award at the end of the day. There’s no real recognition from your peers, which means the sense of accomplishment gets a bit muddled sometimes. Especially when you’re trying to teach your child patience and they choose to scream their little heads off instead of learning it. 🙂  Cancer has taught me that I don’t need any special recognition from my peers. I just need and appreciate the bond I have with my kids.

Cancer has opened my eyes to the little things in everyday life that I may not have appreciated fully or may have even take for granted. Things I would have missed if I had been working full time. For example, those little conversations I have with my boys at odd hours of the day. Are transformers fiction or non-fiction? Is Texas bigger than Michigan? Is a Tyrannosaurus Rex bigger than our house?

Tyrannosaurus Rex Drawing - Tyrannosaurus Rex Fine Art Print

Another example is a hug. Something as simple as a hug can have a huge impact on someone’s day. When I drop my boys off to school, I hug them and tell them I love them. In fact, I do this every time I leave the house and they don’t come with me. I’ve practiced this ever since they were babies. I know this sounds weird or even a little fatalistic, but I always thought, “What if I get in a car accident on the way home?” I want my boys’ last memory of me to be a hug and my last words to be “I love you.” Surviving cancer has taught me that I’m on the right track. Now, I hug more often and tell my boys I’m proud of them and that I’m glad they’re in my life. I believe kids need to hear that sometimes.

Believe it or not, conventional business theory states that there are ...

I always tried to live my life as if each day was my last, so it would be a worthwhile day. I practiced this as much as I could, but now after cancer I’m even better at it. Now, I don’t oscillate between the two pillars of I should be working and I should be home with the kids. I know where I’m supposed to be.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Please leave a comment or ask a question! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health

“Up North” in the Mitten State

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I’m excited because this is the last week of school for my kids! They are ecstatic to get a break from the structure and to be honest so is Mom! 🙂

I’ve got all kinds of ideas for things that we can do this summer, zoo trips, beach days, and of course there are vacations. As a family we love the water and enjoy going “Up North.” For us that means going to the Traverse City area here in Michigan. We’ve vacationed there ever since the boys were born. They love the area and so do my husband and I.

There’s something to be said for the small towns that surround the Traverse City area. There are all kinds of unique stores and a lot of history in these tiny burgs.

One of these small towns is Leelanau. Sitting right on the shores of Lake Michigan it’s a small fishing community. The wind is brisk coming off of the lake, so it’s a great place on a warm day when you can’t get to the beach. It’s fun to go through the tiny stores and galleries in this town. It’s an old town full of history. And when you go down by the water there’s a store that sells fresh fish. We went there when I was pregnant with my first child and needless to say I couldn’t stay in that store very long.  The smell really got to me. 🙂

It’d be a great place for the setting of a story. Hmmm…

Another small town that I love to visit is Sutton’s Bay. Again they have some great shops to explore and I can wander for quite some time while my hubby and the boys play in the park. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that both of these towns have a variety of art galleries and it’s great to see the shores where you’ve walked in a painting or photograph.

There are other tiny burgs that deserve to be mentioned like Alden, and Elk Rapids, awesome communities that are right on either Torch Lake or Lake Michigan that sport cute shops and community events. Of course we can’t forget about Traverse City itself! It’s a great place to walk with the kids and see the sights; again, more great stores and art galleries. If you get a chance to be there during the Cherry Festival by all means do it. It can get a bit crowded, but they have the Blue Angels come every other year and they are a sight to see!

If you’re a wine drinker you’ll love the Traverse City Area. There are wineries everywhere and they’re always open for wine tasting. A fun adult thing that we have yet to do! 🙂 Wineries are pretty boring for the kids. 🙂

If there’s one place you must see it’s Torch Lake. The water is so clear it looks like you’re on a beach in the tropics. The water is also cold so it’s quite refreshing. Everyone gathers at a place called the Sand Bar. People come from all over to park their boats there. And then they get out in the water and play football or Frisbee or just float.  Everyone has a great time. There’s a small shop on Torch River that will even deliver a pizza to your boat. If pizza isn’t your style then there’s a pontoon boat out there with a grill on its deck and they sell burgers and dogs to anyone who wants one.

As you can see Up North is always a great time for us! I can’t wait until the weather turns hot and muggy and we’ll be on our way!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! Do you have any special vacation spots that you’d like to share? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!