Thursday, October 7, 2010

Not Just in the Movies

Facebook is fast becoming the most popular and widely used networking site of this generation. But just like any networking site, it suffers from serious defects, all the more publicized by criticisms hurled by different interest and socio-civic groups, all lambasting Facebook’s inability to meet and even exceed privacy expectations of users of the site.

An online article headlined “Sex Traffickers Using Facebook to Spot Targets” immediately caught my attention. And the first line that followed completely had me floored. Recent studies showed that the Philippines now ranks 4th in the world in the number of child prostitutes with over 100,000 of them also victims of sex trafficking. In fact, according to the proponents of the study, many traffickers are now exploring social networking sites such as Facebook in search of unsuspecting potential victims. Some kids who regularly post pictures of themselves while in school uniform may be unaware that they have already fallen prey to the malevolent scheme of sex traffickers. Thus, parents are highly advised to monitor their children’s online activities.

Dr. Cindy Romine, president of the advocacy group who initiated the study also shared that the hit movie “Taken” which starred Liam Neeson as a retired special ops agent out to rescue his daughter from Albanian slave traders was inspired by the life story of retired US Army Special Forces Colonel William Hillar. His experience, however, did not share the same gratifying ending as that depicted in the film. Just when he had already closed in on his daughter’s whereabouts, he was informed that she was tortured to death a week earlier.

Hillar’s story should serve as a lesson to parents to constantly be mindful of their children’s activities, whether it be by regularly keeping an eye on their children’s whereabouts or through the trivial task of supervising their children’s online activities. Who knows, slave traders out to victimize unwary minors may be lurking not far behind….

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