Mental Health

By sonal  |  March 30, 2021
Mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders make children more likely to be targeted by sexual predators.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 16.9 million children ages 3-17 struggle with mental, behavioral, or and developmental disorders in the United States. This statistic represents only the diagnosed cases, and the reality of our mental health crisis is much more devastating.

In 2021, more than half of U.S. children own a smartphone by age 11. With this has come an exponential increase in depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and a variety of other mental and emotional conditions. Social media has become the preferred avenue for children to express their hardships, insecurities, and general angst. Our children publicly share their deepest emotional wounds with a following of strangers, many of whom may have maniacal intentions. Unfortunately, sexual crimes against children are easiest to commit among the vulnerable and insecure. With American youth striving for affirmation, struggling to identify their core values, and unable to set appropriate boundaries, our children are unknowingly falling victim to predators.

When a child or adolescent is battling depression or anxiety, they are generally looking for an outlet. This outlet might be substance abuse, self-harm, or relationships that make them feel valued or worthy. With the desire to escape their problems, teens battling mental health issues are often unable to identify red flags or danger and are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. If their social media accounts reflect this in any way, the child is in trouble.

Take this quote from a pimp, for example:

"All I do is find the gap in the girl and fill it. If she has daddy issues, I fill it. If she is looking for love, I fill it. If she wants to explore sex, I fill it. If she has boy issues, I fill it. If she is looking for acceptance, I fill it. I will fill any gap she has, and it takes me about 30 seconds to find the girl and fill the gap. Most girls are looking for love. I don't love them. I give them exactly what they want, and no one else is willing to give."

The pimp targets the girl's vulnerabilities and aims to provide her with what she needs to gain her trust and emotionally manipulate her. When a child feels worthless, depressed, or anxious and does not have a strong parent, counselor, or adult to talk with, they end up trying to fill the gaps of their life through outside sources. Their rocky emotional foundation makes it easy for a predator to swoop in and say something simple like, "Hey, you're beautiful!", "I'm there for you," "I'm your friend."

Terrifyingly enough, in a world of depressed and anxious children, a predator might be the only person in a child's life providing them with love and affirmation, even if it is a house of cards.

The anti-sex trafficking movement sees mental health prevention and intervention as one of the most viable ways to keep children safe from online predators. Helping children understand healthy relationships, emotional and physical boundaries, emotional regulation, and mental resiliency is one of our most potent tools in equipping them to protect themselves against exploitation.

If children really know God, then they know that He sees them as perfect and that they can turn to Him to fill any gaps. You will also be grateful and not be looking for more and thinking you are “enough”. Enough can not come from outside sources. Has to come from The Lord. To God you are “enough” Don’t have to rely on outside sources to be filled up and whole and feel enough. Can be insecure and it does not derale. Don’t have to work to be enough. It is a gift, given to us by his mercy. God doesn’t love me because I am amazing, it is because He is loving and merciful. Jesus was a sacrifice and died for us so that God would see us as Jesus’ image: Perfect.

When a child does not have this foundation, they try to fill those gaps with outside sources. This makes it easy for a predator to swoop in and just say something simple like, “Hey, you’re beautiful!”, “I’m there for you”, “I’m your friend” and give them the validation and recognition they have been longing for.

He is the only thing they need and He can sustain them.

He is the only thing they need and He can sustain them.

Parents also need to teach them boundaries and their identity in The Lord.

The average online predator has up to 250 victims that they are pursuing in their lifetime. As of Dec 2, 2020, there are over 900,000 sexual offenders in the US. If each sexual offender has the potential to pursue 250 possible victims in their lifetime, this would equate to 225,000,000,000 potential victims in the US as of 2020.
According to the World Health Organization, as of March 12th, 2021 there have been 527,068 deaths due to the Coronavirus and we call COVID a pandemic. There are almost double the amount of registered sex offenders than people who died from COVID in the US as of March 2021! We believe that sexual predators are the real pandemic.

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