Category "ZOE International"

6 Steps to Keeping Your Child Safe Online During School Closures

April 1, 2020

With even more time at home and the increase in use of internet devices, it’s important that we help keep our children safe. If your child is using devices for online school, has a mobile device, or uses gaming systems, it’s time to have a conversation with your family about internet safety. 

Here are six practical steps you can take as a parent to help protect your child!

  1. Keep connected. It’s so important your child feels safe and connected to family members. The more connected and safe they feel with family, the more comfortable they will be to discuss issues, including issues they encounter online. In contrast, the more disconnected they feel from parents/family, things have potential to start becoming secretive, and they may seek affirmation, connection, and relationships outside of the home for that connection.

  2. Have open conversations with your child about the dangers of the internet and how to practice online safety. 
    SMART acronym is a great place to start! 
    S – Safe – Stay safe by keeping personal information private! Location, contact info, passwords etc.
    M – Meeting – Don’t meet in person with someone you met online! Tell your parents if you would like to meet with someone you met online.
    A – Accepting – Do not accept friend requests or follows from people you don’t know! Don’t accept files, images, or texts from unknown senders! These could be viruses or contain inappropriate content. 
    R – Reliable – People online are not reliable, and can easily lie about who they are. It’s best to reserve your trust for people you know. If you are messaging with someone online, make sure it is someone you know!
    T – Tell – If something makes you feel uncomfortable, be sure to tell a parent or trusted adult. Parents, it’s important that if your child chooses to share something with you, that you remain a safe place, without judgement or punishment. Then together, you can report any illegal or inappropriate activity.

  3. Work together with your child to establish internet guidelines. Don’t just give a list of “don’t do this or that,” have a conversation with your child, teaching them why. You may consider signing a contract with your child about the agreed upon rules for online use. We suggest covering these topics: 
    • What apps/sites can be visited? What apps and/or sites are off limits?
    • Where can they use their devices? Should they limit their internet use to general spaces?
    • Who needs to be present when they use the internet? Do they need parental supervision?
    • When and for how long can they be on their device? Do they need to limit screen time to certain hours/times of day

  4. Utilize parental controls to help monitor and protect online activity. Regularly check posts, messages, texts, etc. This part takes a bit of research in the beginning and continued upkeep, but it is important to help our children navigate internet usage.
    To help you in the start of your search, one field staff shared, “Even though I have been working in this area for years, I recall that when we started this process, it was quite overwhelming. It takes time for you to establish guidelines, time to find software that helps show their activity, and time for you to monitor and check-in with your child…  No matter what software you use, it is not set and forget! Initially we used the free version of Qustodio to help us set up simple daily time time limits. Apple also has great parental control software.” 

  5. If you notice behavior changes in your child, such as isolating themselves, becoming secretive about their phone, or wanting to spend more time in their room with a device, ask your child what’s going on, without judgement or punishment. 

  6. If you discover your child has been interacting with a potentially dangerous person or content, don’t panic! Be a safe place for your child. Break off contact — stop talking and stop replying. Criminal activity, including explicit photos or text messages, should be saved and taken to the police for investigation. Report any illegal activity to law enforcement.

Instant Gratification & the Dangers of It

March 13, 2020

“A nice hot cup of tea would be nice,” I thought the other day while at work. Rather than going through all the trouble, I put a coin in the vending machine and out came my instant gratification.

It is beyond description how highly “convenience” is valued in our culture. You can get almost anything from vending machines, stores, and the Internet.

And this is what sex has become.

In Japan, you can scroll through your phone and select a girl to be delivered to your place in less than an hour. Pornographic sites are just a click away, easy even for a child to access.

Sex became such an accessible, disposable product in our culture. Like fast food, it’s ready for you as soon as you crave it. Such disposable consumption makes us grow numb to true satisfaction.

In the process of numbing our senses to the sacredness of sex, human trafficking begins to creep into our society. There are sex traffickers who dare to think that they are “helping” their victims by providing a job. There are even pedophiles who believe that they are “educating” children when they are horrifically abusing them.

A person does not become a sex trafficker overnight. It is through the process of devaluing sex and numbing their senses to true satisfaction that lead to exploitation of others for their selfish gains.

As long as society makes sex a convenient disposable product, vulnerable people and children will be objectified for exploitation and human trafficking will continue.

We must emphasize the importance of teaching the youth about the true value of sex. Because once it violates boundaries, it doesn’t stop. Sex is never a vending machine product that we purchase and dispose of on our way through life.

It is God’s beautiful design, meant to be cherished, protected, and sacredly valued as we see in the Bible.

This is an extremely important and urgent subject to teach especially young generations because they have the potential to become both victim and perpetrator.

At ZOE Japan, we have the opportunity to share a love and ultimate true satisfaction through Jesus Christ with a nation that is 1% Christian, shedding light that instant gratification will never fully satisfy our soul.

Newly Rescued Teen Girls Cry Being Able to Make Their Own Choices

February 20, 2020

By Ben Wood, Field Worker, Thailand

One day I was at the Child Rescue Center (CRC) for a meeting. Two girls had just arrived. They had only been at ZOE for about 30 minutes when they were taken to the ZOE “store” by one of our mothers. I was sitting at a distance and watched as both girls proceeded to sit down on the ground and cry. I didn’t know what was happening.

After about a minute of being comforted, they stood up and went into the store. I was curious why they were crying and walked over and asked the mother what was happening.

She told me that it was okay. That their tears were happy tears. They were moved by our love for them and allowing them to take whatever they needed from our store. They also told her that they felt honored that they weren’t being told what to do but instead they were given the power to make choices. 

At that moment, I was also moved to tears. I realized that our little store was more than just a room full of stuff but instead it was an opportunity for us to empower the children we rescue and to show them love as they start their restoration process.

One Child Reflects on Being Raised At ZOE

November 22, 2019

One of our ZOE children was getting ready to leave ZOE and attend university.  He was in the process of packing up his things and going to his new dorm room.  However, before leaving, he wanted to say goodbye to all the staff, children and missionaries.

As he said his goodbyes, he started to tell Carol Hart, our founder, what ZOE meant to him.  He said,

“ZOE has given me a lot of opportunities…. a good education, a place to stay, good food, safe environment.” 

This was all very important to him, but in his wildest dreams, he never thought that ZOE could ever give him something that he thought was impossible to have.  He said,

“ZOE gave me a mom and dad.” 

He began to weep uncontrollably as he said this in front of his ZOE mother and began to hug her.  He never thought as an orphan, he could have a mom and dad.  Today, he still calls these ZOE parents his mom and dad. He regularly keeps in contact with them and even takes the time out to come visit and help around ZOE.

This is one of the key reasons why we have experienced so much success at ZOE, because we have staff who not only consider their duties as a job, but as a lifelong calling.  These children are not merely foster children passing through, but they consider them as their own.

The Gift of a “Work in Progress”

November 11, 2019

Our ZOE buildings are meant to be white, which is challenging because the soil on the land where our ZOE buildings are is a deep, rich orange color. Often times it gets onto our clothes, cars, and shoes and it’s really hard to keep things clean.

As I arrived at work this past week, I noticed that there have been a couple of guys painting around the front entrance to the building.

Sometimes as I go to my office, I’ve needed to go a different way, or walk around their tools but mostly, while the work is being done, I’ve been thinking that it all just looks like a bit of a mess.

It’s not only the buildings at ZOE that need maintenance though; my life, those I work with, the parents, and of course the children themselves – are all a work-in-progress and sometimes, everywhere I look there is much work to be done. It all just seems like a bit of a mess.

I don’t often feel like I do a very good job at seeing a mess and just heading straight into it. I am continually amazed at the ZOE staff and parents though, who commit wholeheartedly to seeing lives transformed and throwing themselves in 100% to see the hard work being done.

I’m so thankful that God gives us discernment and sensitivity to the needs around us so that at those times when we just want to walk around, go a different way, or avoid the chaos, He helps us to enter in and “be” with others in the same way that He is with us.

We are loved and accepted, yes, but loved way too much for Him to just let us remain in our pain, shame, guilt, and in our past. He takes those deep, rich orange stains and paints them as white as snow. And every time we find another stain, He does it again – a beautiful reminder of our God who forgives us and gives us a new life and a pure heart. What a wonderful gift!

Pray. Share. Give.

October 14, 2019

As an international organization working in multiple countries around the globe, ZOE needs your help to confront the evil of human trafficking. Because human trafficking and slavery happen every day and in every country, we need as many people as possible working together to see it end!

  • The power of your prayers is an amazing thing. Please consider praying for our ZOE Child Rescue Team, our ZOE parents, the rescued children, missionaries, and staff in every country.
  • Please share what ZOE is doing with people that we cannot reach – your friends, family, work colleagues, sports team, mothers’ group, church, school, and neighborhood.
  • ZOE also needs people to fundraise, sponsor a child, and provide the finances for “special projects” in each country.  
  • Consider giving a donation to a ZOE volunteer missionary whose “salary” is primarily based on the donations of those who feel led to support ZOE. 

For other ways to get involved click here or contact us.

Mexico

October 13, 2019

ZOE International has now launched in Mexico. Mexico is both a source country for other nations like the USA, and a destination country. In Mexico, victims are trafficked through force, fraud, and coercion.  Many Central and South Americans are trafficked into Mexico or trafficked through Mexico to the USA, making it a transit country as well. 

Commercial sexual exploitation of children within the tourism industry is a growing problem in areas around northern border cities. Many exploited children are from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. Labor trafficking for men, women, and children is another problem. Trafficking children and adults are held in “debt bondage” that they cannot pay back.

ZOE is located in Oaxaca, Mexico, which is considered to be a “crossroads” for human trafficking as a source, destination, and transit state for this crime. We are beginning our work with child trafficking prevention. Our goal is to spread awareness about child trafficking to begin with as most Mexican citizens are largely unaware of the child slavery around them. ZOE plans to be involved in assisting with rescue, and restoration of children in future.  Follow ZOE’s work in Mexico here.  

Japan

October 10, 2019

Japan, like many countries worldwide, has a human trafficking problem. “Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, and for children subjected to sex trafficking” (Trafficking In Person Report 2017).

One part of the problem is Enjo Kosai – also known as “compensated dating” which often leads towards the sex trafficking of Japanese children. Enjo Kosai is child sexual exploitation in exchange for money and/or luxury gifts by older men.

There are also sophisticated and organized prostitution networks that target vulnerable Japanese women and girls in public areas such as subways, popular youth hangouts, schools, and online. Japanese citizens, particularly runaway teenage girls, children of foreign and Japanese citizens who have acquired citizenship, and their foreign mothers, are also subjected to sex trafficking.

In the last decade the government has recognized the problem of human trafficking. In Japan, ZOE is a member of JNATIP (Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons). This network includes NGOs, lawyers, and academics who are looking to formulate effective laws concerning the prevention of trafficking in persons, victim relief, and the punishment of perpetrators.

ZOE is also currently working in the area of prevention. ZOE’s goal in Japan is to prevent trafficking by providing education in churches, schools, and communities. ZOE plans to build a shelter in Japan for children who are at risk of or survivors of trafficking. Stay connected with the work in Japan here.

Australia

October 9, 2019

In the past, slavery and trafficking offenses occurring in Australia were under-reported, but the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has recently seen a rise in referrals. According to the AFP, Australia is primarily a destination country for people trafficked from Asia, particularly Thailand, Korea, the Philippines. and Malaysia. 

Between 1995 and 2006, the majority of child sexual abusers and exploiters who traveled to Thailand, to commit sex offenses against children were Australians.

“Australians were the biggest exploiters of Thailand’s child sex tourism” (Johns Hopkins University)

More recently, reports show that Australian perpetrators have been involved in grooming children online, usually in developing countries. The Australian Federal Police is concerned that the demand for child abuse material is increasing across the country. 

“In 2014 we received about 4,500 referrals of child exploitation material and in 2015 it was 11,000.” (Justine Saunders AFP Assistant Commissioner)

And even more recently it was reported that, “The United States, Britain and Australia are the main consumers of child sex abuse streamed over webcam.” (spokesperson from the Australian Federal Police) 

ZOE raises awareness in Australia through the media, entertainment industry, influential voices, speaking engagements, internet communities, and encouraging university and high school involvement. 

Our education in schools is reaching more and more students.  We are looking to expand our curriculum and write another trafficking curriculum unit for Australian schools next year. In September 2019, ZOE Australia released their updated version of the Year 10 Geographies of Human Wellbeing curriculum. This is a free unit of work that examines the different concepts and measures of human wellbeing, and the causes of global differences in these measures between countries. Please email Sharon at info@zoefoundation.org.au if you want a copy. 

ZOE also raises funds to support programs in Thailand in the areas of prevention, rescue, and restoration. Stay up-to-date with news from Australia here.

Thailand

October 8, 2019

Thailand is recognized as a key destination for human trafficking, in addition to being a source and transit country for forced labor and sex trafficking. Thailand has been identified as one of the most popular destinations for child sex abusers since 1980s. (UNODC)

The majority of trafficking victims identified in Thailand are Thai nationals, trafficked for sexual exploitation domestically and to a number of countries internationally. The majority of victims identified within Thailand have been forced, coerced, or deceived into labor or sexual exploitation. (United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons)

ZOE is working in the areas of prevention, rescue and restoration in Thailand. From conducting regular child trafficking awareness campaigns, to receiving calls on our hotline, ZOE’s team is ready to conduct assessments, investigations, or assist with rescue whenever necessary.

ZOE parents lovingly provide and protect trafficking survivors. They are trained in trauma informed care so that they understand the complex emotional needs as well the the safety implications around caring for rescued children. ZOE also seeks to bring human traffickers to justice. We collaborate with Thai law enforcement and other government agencies when intervening on behalf of children.

You can keep updated about Thailand here.

USA

October 7, 2019

In 2016, it was estimated that there were about 403,000 victims of human trafficking in the United States. (International Labour Organization)

The United States is both a source and a transit country for trafficking. It is considered one of the top destinations for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. states.

In America, ZOE is working in the areas of prevention, rescue and restoration. ZOE raises awareness and funds to prevent trafficking through their annual Rescue Walk, student and community programs (like My Gen My Fight) and by providing trafficking awareness training and presentations to schools, churches, social workers, mental health workers, businesses, hotels, and community groups.

ZOE is contracted with Los Angeles County’s Department of Child and Family Services and Department of Probations to provide 24-7 crisis response and victim advocacy services when first responders recover a child from sex trafficking or when children are identified as victims of sex trafficking in Los Angeles County.

ZOE has purchased 50 acres of land in North Los Angeles County and is building a short-term residential therapeutic program (STRTP) for female youth who have been trafficked in Los Angeles. This home will provide holistic care to bring restoration and meet the physical, emotional, social, educational, vocational, and spiritual needs of these survivors.

You can read more about ZOE’s presence in America here or stay connected with their activities here.

Every country. Every day.

October 6, 2019

Confiscated passport…withheld food…no communication…physical abuse…isolation…threats of having to repay travel costs

These are just some of the challenges facing victims of trafficking. 

Just imagine a person living next door to you is a slave, has been trafficked, or is being exploited… It’s hard to conceive, right? And yet we know that human trafficking and slavery happens in every country, every day.

Anyone can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises. (UNICEF USA)

ZOE International is currently working in 5 countries in different ways, and to varying degrees. They are: USA, Thailand, Australia, Japan and Mexico.

Over the next week, we want to explore both what trafficking looks like, and what ZOE is currently doing in each of these five countries.