Since our children were infants, we have always talked about human sexuality bluntly. We refer to body parts using the anatomically correct name, we don’t hide or shame the early sexual curiosity, and babies do not come from storks. Of course, at six years old when my oldest asked, “Daddy, I know babies grow inside their mommies belly and come out of their mommy’s vagina, but how do they get in there?” I turned flush red and surprised the children with the news that mommy was coming home with donuts. I was very relieved that she forgot she asked the question…especially since that is very, very unusual. She has not asked since…but when she does, I’m a little more prepared, because I know it is critical to talk about sex when children are young. However, when she asked me about child sex trafficking, I was not prepared.
On the side of the interstate we drive under on our way home there is apparently a new billboard. I haven’t seen it for myself, but apparently one line it has the words “child sex” and the line below, “trafficking.”
“Daddy, I have a question.”
“Alright,” I responded. “What is your question?”
“What’s child sex?”
“When people say child sex it usually refers to whether the child is a male or female. Why? Where did you hear that?” I asked.
“It says it on the billboard. Child sex…trafficking. What’s that?”
…and so I tried. “It can mean several things, but typically it means that an adult is selling a child to another adult. The adult who pays for the child makes the child do things that are sexually. The child may be forced to touch the buyer’s private parts and the buyer may touch the child’s private parts.”
“Is the child, like, kidnapped and made a slave?” She responded.
“yah, kind of. The child is treated as a slave, but a family member could sell the child.”
“Daddy, could I be child sex trafficked?”
“Anyone child could be sex trafficked. That is why it is always important to never talk to strangers and tell mommy, me, or another adult you trust if anyone ever touches or tries to touch your body in an unsafe way.“
My younger daughter than interjected and asked if her mother and I had ever been in a carriage with a horse. The conversation ended. Like always, I have no idea if what I said made any sense and was meaningful. Only time will tell. I’m sure it will come up again when she thinks to ask about how babies get in their mommy’s belly. #ourchildrenarelistening