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Child Trafficking - Interview with Detective Sergeant Todd Chambers

I had the honor and opportunity to sit down with Detective Sergeant Todd Chambers to discuss child trafficking and abuse. Detective Sergeant Chambers has been with the Longmont Police Department for 19 years and he is currently a Detective Sergeant and Supervisor for Person Crimes Unit.

*DISCLAIMER - The following information is NOT an official position from the Longmont, Colorado Police Department.*

Q- What is child trafficking?

A- Child trafficking is procuring a child/children for purposes of making money off of their labor. It can involve parents, guardians, adults or others that have access to children and use them for financial gain.

Q- Who is involved with trafficking?

A- Although there are large organized crime rings; locally (in Longmont, CO) we do not see large organizations involved with trafficking. It tends to be people you or your child know. It can be a family member, friend, parents of friend, or even associates of people you know.

Sometimes when children get older and are teens, it can become self driven.

The majority of sexual assault cases the victim knows the offender. Although random abductions happen; they are very rare.

Q- What signs should parents look for that their child might be being trafficked or abused?
A- There is no one sign to look for with trafficking. The signs normally will be the same as child abuse. Some things to look for would be bruises in places children don't normally get bruises or unexplained marks. Abrupt changes in behavior, becoming with drawn from friends and family and losing interest in things the child once cared about are other signs to look for. A child being malnourished, with an unstable home life where they constantly are changing their location or changing who is in charge of them could be a red flag as well.

Because the signs tend to be the same as abuse and neglect; most often it is reported as child abuse and through investigations we find it to be child trafficking as well.

Q- What are some signs that older children/teens might be involved in trafficking?

A- Children that grow up in this situation will tend to continue down the same road as they grow up. They might be addicted to drugs. You may see behavior changes, self destructive behaviors and acting out. They may be looking for acceptance and love from the wrong people. They may go seek out a pimp who might give them gifts and make them feel like they belong even though they might owe them for what they are given. The trafficking can also be driven by the child as a way to support addiction, habits, wants and needs.

Some additional signs to look for in trafficking victims would include: unexplained money, having unexplained or multiple phones, receiving unexplained gifts, running away and tattoos.

Q- What should a parent do if their child tells them  they have been abused?

A- If your child discloses to you they were abused believe them and do not blow it off. Report it to the police or social services and do not ask your child a lot of questions. Although your first instinct as a parent might be to ask all the questions it is best to let the authorities handle that. The police are trained in special ways to get the most information with out revictimizing the child. Because having the child talk about the abuse can be revictimizing them it is best to limit the times they have to talk about it. Get counseling for your child as soon as possible to help work through what happened.

Q- What can parents do to stop trafficking from happening?

A- First and fore most; be a parent! Be present and involved with your children's lives. Know who your children are around and what they are doing when they are not at home. Set realistic boundaries, rules and expectations. Talk to your children and listen to them; do not just respond. Build a relationship of trust and help teach them from a young age how to make better decisions; as well as, how to follow their feelings if something doesn't feel right. Remember it is never too late to build a better relationship with your children.

Q- What are the most important things you want parents to know?

A- Look for warning signs that something is wrong. If your child's behavior changes abruptly and unexplainably then it is time to step in and start asking questions to figure out why. Have conversations with your children about what is okay or not for others to do to and with them. Know who is around your children. Develop a relationship of trust and believe your child if they report abuse to you. Really the most important thing is to be a parent and be involved.

Remember; that as their parent, you have the right to check your child's phone/ tablet/computers/ect  and also check their internet use; and you can also put restrictions on them as needed. You have the right to search their room if you choose to. All of these choices parents can make and apply up to the child's 18th birthday. Sometimes, parents don't know, or don't think, they have the right and the authority to do these things; but as a parent you absolutely do.

Child Trafficking - Interview with Detective Sergeant Todd Chambers
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