Social media a tool to help lure teens into prostitution, say experts
FILE PHOTO (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Saturday, February 20, 2016 6:11PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 22, 2016 7:42AM EST
Social media is one of the biggest tools being used to lure teen girls in Quebec into prostitution, say experts.
Sarah Hauptman’s parents say they gave their daughter everything, but could not control her desire for independence and money.
“What they see – TV, internet, Kardashian – they want to have everything,” said Josée Chaput, the teen’s mother.
The Hauptmans believe their 16-year-old daughter was being groomed for prostitution when she was found by police in Toronto.
Pimps used to prey on vulnerable girls at bus and metro stations, but now can easily find them online, added her father, Eric Hauptman.
“These guys they have a door wide open and all they have to do is just walk in,” he said.
“Social media plays a big role in the recruitment of girls for prostitution,” said YWCA Montreal Program Director Lilia Goldfarb, adding that not long ago, parents could keep an eye on their kids’ online behaviour on a family computer, but mobile devices have made that more difficult.
“It's impossible for parents to know when they're on social media how old is the person they're communicating with, who is this person, what are their intentions,” she said.
Teens may even be friends with pimps and their helpers, and are not afraid of them.
“They're promising what the girls want,” said Hauptman. “And they can choose whoever they want because they know that the girls are not really scared of that.”
Still, clinical psychologist Perry Adler said the message to girls on social media and everywhere is clear.
“They're objectified. Their bodies represent more of a great value than their minds or their skills, which is a horrible, horrible message that we're giving to young women or any woman,” said Adler.
Parents need to start early by teaching girls that they are more than their looks, said Goldfarb.
“Try to give them alternatives, because often girls think, ‘I don't have a choice. If I want to be recognized, if I want to be somebody, if I want to be taken into consideration, then this is what I have to do’ and that's not true,” she said. “It's a fake world, and we in the media give a lot of importance to that world.”