A hashtag on social media is likely showing up on your newsfeed and in comment sections for different reasons than it was originally intended.
#SaveTheChildren was initially launched to raise awareness of child trafficking, but some people are now hijacking the hashtag.
Katherine Edwards keeps a watchful eye on her daughter Paisley while at the playground – teaching her to be cautious.
“We don’t say stranger danger as much. We like to say ‘tricky people’,” explained Edwards. “People who have her best intentions would not try to trick her and say come with me away from your mom.”
Sarah Pretorius is the advocacy and philanthropy coordinator with Selah Freedom.
She says, “Child sexual exploitation is happening in communities across the country. There are sexual predators everywhere.”
That’s why you may have seen or shared this hashtag on your social media feed.
Save the Children is a humanitarian aid organization, but Snopes reports the hashtag is now linked with conspiracy theories and misinformation around pedophilia.
Pretorius says, “We want to make sure that the conversation that we’re having is true to what we know.”
She recommends expanding that open dialogue with your kids and don’t overshare photos or personal info online.
Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office major case commander, Lt. John Heck, says, “Unfortunately, everybody likes to post what they are doing and what they are involved with. You just got to be more careful about how you post that and where are you post it at.” To protect your family and loved ones.”
As a parent, Edwards says, “it’s not just your responsibility for your own kid. You have to watch out for all the other kids who are around them.” For their protection and safety.
Selah Freedom says the most important thing you can do is, if you see something, say something.
If you or someone you know may be a victim of sex trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline.