This week I'm talking to Stephanie Olson.
She's the CEO of the Set me Free Project, a prevention education organization on human trafficking, social media safety, and healthy relationships.
We're talking social media safety;
Is it a good idea to set up a social media account for your baby/toddler?
What is the biggest thing people ignore about social media?
Do you REALLY know everyone you're connected with and giving information to, etc.?
We are also talking human trafficking.
Most human trafficking is nothing like what you see in Liam Neeson movies.
Most trafficking is carried out by people familiar to the child involved.
So what sort of precautions can, and should, we take?
Why is communication with a trusted person soo important for children?
And how can we, as adults, help children who might be at risk?
I loved the whole conversation and definitely learned an awful lot about a subject I thought I had some idea of but it turns out almost everything I thought I knew was wrong.
You can find Stephanie, and the Set Me Free Project here.
Their website https://www.setmefreeproject.net/
If you are interested in their training programs for work and agencies you can find that here
Follow her on Facebook
And on Instagram
They're even on Twitter!
In the news this week; This study about the health impacts of "weight-cycling". A common myth heard these days is that intentionally losing weight (dieting) and then gaining that weight again is bad for your overall health and that, actually, you're better off staying at your higher weight. This is nonsense. There is ZERO evidence to show that that is the case and this study from 2014 clearly shows that.
For next week's podcast we will do a "Top dieting myths" episode so, let me know if you have any questions you'd like answered or have heard something silly recently that you want to share.
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Playing us out this week; "Back & Forth" by Tru Genesis
Peter; Hey, welcome to the Healthy Post Natal Body Podcast with your postnatal expert Petal Lap. That, as always, would be me. Today, This is the podcast for what is it?, the 24th of October again, I had to guess the date there, because I'm recording this a little bit ahead of time.
Because I'm very lucky indeed. I have a very special guest on; Stephanie Olson the CEO of the Set Me Free Project. They provide education on prevention of human trafficking, social media safety and healthy relationships and all that sort of stuff. This is a must listen. This is one of those guests that I'm just extremely lucky to come across and says, Yay, I'll happily come onto your dinky little postnatal podcast, right.
The human trafficking element of this is essential, of course, social media safety we talk about. But the eye opener was the human trafficking one because it is not at all the Liam Neeson “Taken” sort of situation. It's a great chat. And I'm very grateful that she came on. So without further ado, here we go.
Peter; Stephanie. The world is a very tricky place with social media being everywhere and so important in the lives of many people. What are the main issues you come across when talking to people about social media safety, especially what are people not aware of that they kind of really should be?
Stephanie. Yeah. There is so much that people aren't aware of, and I think part of that is just because social media is now just a part of our lives.Iit can be a great, great thing. It almost becomes like a friend to us. And so I think there are a lot of things that people don't really recognize. One of those things is that we've got people; we always say “when you have access to the world, the world has access to you”. So when we have random people following us or, oh, that's a friend of a friend. I don't really know. We are putting out a ton of information that can be easily accessed, and we don't even realize that we're doing that.
Peter; Yeah. Because that's interesting, because I'm on Reddit a lot. That is kind of the only social media platform that I use. Technically, it's social media. So I'm not massive on Facebook and Instagram. HPNB is, but that's because it has to be as an online sort of thing. But I do come across a lot of videos from “that Danesh” guy. I don't know if you stumbled across him. He's very popular with the whole people protest and people are racist online. And then he's a TikToker He just goes, “Actually, this guy, this is Mark from Pennsylvania, and he lives here, and this is who he works for. And then therefore, let's get Mark fired.”
He's always on the side of “good”. Right. That is kind of why you see, you see, a lot of the people in the videos tend to just be…. I mean, we call them Karens now apparently, that type those people. And he says, actually, it turns out it's this person; so antivaxxer. Turns out she's a nurse at this hospital and blah, blah, blah. And then he sends an email to the hospital saying, Are you sure this person should be employed and that sort of thing? And I'm not doing him any justice whatsoever here. But my point is more; that's just the person in the video. He just sees that person. And he goes, he can trace her all the way down to the employer through her social media.
Peter; And even though I see those videos, it still doesn't register with me that he could probably do the same with me. And I'm thinking that's the same for a lot of people.
Stephanie; Well, and look at the power that wields because we've got somebody who has an opinion and they decide your opinion is wrong. Regardless of what side you're on, your opinion is wrong. And I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that you don't have a sustainable income. I mean, that overwhelming power. And so I think those are the things that we do have to recognize is there are people who can do things through social media that we would never even consider because we have that information out there. It's really easy to do.
Peter; Obviously, most of my listeners will be parents. You know, everybody these days is kind of aware you shouldn't put pictures of your kids online, right? It's just the amount of Instagram accounts I come across because some people I work with they send me stuff saying;. “This five year old is an Instagram account. Maybe we can work with them”. I don't care about five year olds. That's not really what they don't suffer from postnatal issues. It's the moms, but it is astonishing, I suppose, how parents are not aware. Maybe they are aware. What do I know? Maybe I'm just a Jackass, but they are seemingly not aware that having an Instagram account for a five, six, seven year old, no matter how cute and adorable they are, is maybe less secure than you think it is.
Stephanie; Right. That is really true. I'm going to respond to that in a couple different avenues because a lot of kids right now want to be Instagram famous or YouTube famous. And so they're posting videos or pictures of themselves so that they can get recognition. The problem is that they ARE getting recognition, and we don't even realize what identifying information we're putting on screen. And it could be something as simple as I'm wearing my favourite team sweatshirt or the school I go to, and they don't even realize; Right there, you've just put identifying information. The other thing parents don't realize is when they are doing that. You say parents now know they shouldn't post pictures of their kids. I see just the opposite. And the amount of first day of school or last day of school photos in front of the school sign and you think, oh, well, this is just people I know that are following me, but it's amazing how many people that we allow to follow us that we really don't know. We have met them. But do we really know who they are and know who they associate with.
Peter; Especially if you're talking about parents. everybody's friends with every other parent in the Eclass, so to speak. Right. That already gives you 30 people or something like that or 60 people. Moms and dads, in the whole nuclear family sort of set up, that your friends with and I don't know about you, but I don't even know 60 people, so at least not well enough, right?
Stephanie; Yeah. I mean, we may meet a lot of people, but when you think about the amount of the people that you know that you're really willing to tell some of the things that we post on social media. And I think it's really important to recognize that our kiddos are not, especially the older kiddos, like preteen to teenager, I always say they're not posting pictures of their food like I am. They're posting their deepest, darkest. And they're posting that they don't have anybody to talk to. “Hey, I'm looking for an Internet best friend. I really hate my parents right now.” All of this stuff that really does make a tremendous makes them vulnerable to people who might want to do them part.
Peter; Sure. Because I suppose that gives them an in. Right.” I hate my parents right now”. “Oh, that's nice”. I mean, that's easy. “But you can like me” sort of even I see that one coming, so to speak. And like we said before, the thing is, when we're talking about human trafficking and all that sort of stuff, even that is covered by Hollywood, the creep who gets in that way. So I think people are kind of back of their mind. They're aware of it because they've seen CSI, Miami or Criminal Intent or that sort of stuff. Right. But what I suppose you see a lot is that this stuff never hits home until it hits home, sort of thing. Right.
Peter; It can't happen to you.
Stephanie; Well, and that's why we're all about prevention education, because you hope you never need to have that information. But the minute you do, you need that information. And so it really is important to understand what trafficking really looks like because media is going to sensationalize everything. So it's not very exciting to show or to write a movie about somebody who built a relationship with somebody. And now we have this great relationship….and a year later…, That's not exciting. But you get kidnapped by a white van, somebody in a white van that's going to make the news. But we know that the majority of trafficked individuals are lured by someone they know already, and they don't self-identify as trafficked because they don't even recognize this is trafficking.
This is someone I love. This is someone I trust. Familial trafficking is huge right now. And so mom and dads are the traffickers. Grandma and Grandpa's are the traffickers. And when we recognize that traffickers are finding the individuals they traffic on social media, it changes the whole landscape of what it looks like.
Peter; Yeah. Because I suppose it's quite funny, right. Not haha funny, it’s weird funny. When you're talking about this increase in familial trafficking and all that sort of stuff it used to be. And one of my friends is a police officer. He's quite high up in the police, and he's been proper Detective, as in Danny Regan style sort of stuff.
He always says that; “If your wife ends up murdered, I'm going to arrest you. End of discussion. That will happen because it's likely to have been you.” Right. And everybody kind of accepts that is the first thing people get murdered by people close to home, close to home first. We see trafficking and kidnapping and abuse. We tend to see that as removed from the family, at least outsiders and not people like yourself who are actively involved. But people like me see that as a European sex trafficking gang is responsible for exactly rather than other people. Right.
Stephanie; Well, I think that's more comforting to be totally honest with you. That sounds kind of odd. But I think when you're talking about something like murder that typically tends to be, you know you're in the heat of passion. It's not usually a planned thing. And it's something that happens quickly. And it doesn't happen as often. But when you start to recognize that human trafficking is relationship building and it's not happening by the cartels or it is. but that's not the most common form. You have to start looking close to home. Then you have to start saying, okay, wait. So it's my kid that's at risk. It's my grandkid or whomever and that it's in my home because of social media, it changes everything. And as a mom, I get that. It was warm with my head in the sand when I didn't want it felt good in there. I get it’s just not effective.
Peter; No. True. So when you're saying obviously, as part of the whole Set me free project. And again, I will link to this for the listeners, I will link to everything in this thing and we'll do a transcript and all that sort of thing. How do you prevent trafficking? Because we have two things, right. We touched on the aspect of social media safety, which helps for a large chunk, but it doesn't help against, for want of a better phrase, granddad. Granddad knows where you live, where you go to school. He usually picks you up when the parents can’t.
Peter; So we know we need to be careful on social media. But how do you even get to the stage that you can, when you're talking about prevention, how do you get to the stage where familial trafficking is something that can be prevented.
Stephanie; That is a great question. Here's what I would say to that. And I'm going to answer it in kind of two parts because I think it's an important question.
First of all, the foundation of everything that we teach is that you have incredible value and worth and that you have human dignity. And when you understand your own humanity and how amazing you are, you really do treat yourself a little different. There's some respect that goes on. I have value. I'm an amazing person. You look at that differently. But also we have to see that in everybody else. So we have to recognize this individual has incredible value and worth. Now, when we recognize other people's value and human dignity, we can't buy them. We can't sell them. So I think that's the bottom line.
Now, I always say the number one way to prevent human trafficking is by building relationships, Traffickers build incredible relationships. We actually have to build better ones. And so when we can be that safe place for an individual, whether we're teachers in the school or we’re parents or whatever that is, that creates an opportunity to come and disclose if that is necessary.
Now, preventing human trafficking in a familial sense, that's really tricky. Because that usually is generations upon generations. Most people do not wake up and say, you know what? I think I'm going to sell my kids today. People don't do that. So it's usually innate in the family or something. On that level. There's a lot of drugs or whatever it may be. So instead of talking about prevention in that sense, I think we have to talk about what it means to be a safe person for somebody and that we want to teach kiddos if they're going through something like that, to “tell somebody until”. Tell somebody until you get the help that you need to get out of that situation. And one of the things that we do in our presentations is we talk about what healthy relationships are and what they look like. We talk about what trafficking is and what it looks like and the tricks of the trafficker and how misconceptions and all of those things. So then if we have a kiddo in the classroom who is being trafficked by a family member, at that point then the goal is tell us that you need help so we can report it and get you help. And I think that it's got to start at that base level of recognizing human dignity and human worth and that people cannot be products. And then it's just got to kind of build from there.
Peter; Well, that means that because it's interesting to say that right. Because usually the way I picture a school, I'm not that familiar with the US school system. The way I picture a school is similar to the way it is in the UK. A couple of thousand kids go to the same school as in usually a large building these days. I'm 46, right. So I went to a small school because that was the norm where I stayed. But now all schools are much bigger and larger catchment areas and all that sort of stuff. Few thousand pupils. Everybody has X amount of teachers. There's usually a dedicated person for kids to speak to. The problem is, of course, that if you have a few thousand kids going to one school and you have one dedicated person that kind of knows what you're talking about, even if they haven't been to a presentation yet. But that's kind of what their job is. Teachers are stressed. Teachers have many, many things to do. They work 10-12 hours days for little pay, is what most of them tell me. How do you get through to the teachers that because every teacher, I find teachers and doctors are similar this way, as if nobody chooses it for the profession that it ends up being. We've all seen “Coach Carter”, and that's what makes us want to be a basketball coach, right? Because teachers want to inspire they just end up not doing it because the system sucks. But all teachers, fundamentally or most teachers fundamentally, are good people they wanted exactly. Yes. But that kind of how do you talk to them about; “Guys I know you're busy, and I know you're stressed, but you also still have to be an open door for the 100 kids on a daily basis”.
Stephanie; We love to talk to educators actually, first. So if we had our perfect world, we would talk to educators before we talk to students. So we can help train the educators to know what to look for, to know what to do, know what happens when educator discloses. But I think that you're right on our teachers today; They're overworked and underpaid. The stress of COVID on their lives has just made it tremendously difficult. Now we've got students who were straight A students, and now they're failing classes because it's all of these things. And we have a shortage of teachers because of all of that. And so it's really difficult for them. What I would say is that sometimes they do the best they can. Sometimes, though, what I see in some of the schools is it's really important to train not just that one dedicated person, they might have a social counsellor, but that every teacher in the classroom is trained to know what to do and how to handle that? I think that's really important. That actually every staff member, because what if that one dedicated person, and this sounds really horrible, but what if that one person is somebody who wants to do the kids harm? Yeah. And so we need to have our kids be able to disclose to anyone they feel safe with. And I think that is the key and just really teaching teachers how to be that safe person, which is about listening. It's about listening without judgment. How do you respond? You respond without the why questions? Why did you do that? We don't want shame and blame. We want to respond with what or how? how did that happen? What happened? And then making sure that they get to somebody where they don't have to tell their story over and over and over again. Those are some of the key things to be coming, that safe person. That's what that looks like and always believing them.
I just have to tell you, “this is a made up story”.. We've seen schools where they're exhausted, and this is few and far between. But because the majority of schools, the majority of teachers are fantastic. But when you live in an area where there are traumatized children. Children who have trauma induced lives are going to respond very differently. They're going to be the difficult ones in class or the ones that just really go inside of themselves. But usually, they're the difficult ones. So you've got a school full of trauma induced children. And what happens is they become overwhelming. And sometimes it becomes too overwhelming for those teachers and administrators to handle. And then we're not handling it well at all. And so that can happen. And so it's got to be a constant juggle. But it's challenging.
Peter; That's interesting because it's something you mentioned earlier with regards to Covid and straight A students no longer getting straight A's and all that sort of thing. But from my very limited understanding of the things is that all these training courses that teachers used to get. So this is like 10-15 years out of date. It's always “if a kid's grades are suddenly failing, you need to ask the kid what's happening”. That is one of the first things they talk about. “Is there something happened?” This was during the whole, even 20 years ago because I haven't lived in Holland for a while. It was all about that's when there is something up when the behaviour changes and it was usually to do with sexual abuse and abuse in the house and all that sort of thing. That was what the coaching was about.
I'm not saying that that's why the kids grades were dropping. But we had a situation in the UK, in Rochdale. Is it a town in the UK? I want to say five or six years ago where a whole paedophile ring was rolled up and we're talking 20, 30, 40 kids, and they're all British kids. They're all kids that live in the community. Right. And it's a tragic thing, failings by social services, failings by teachers and all that sort of stuff because exactly, it's exactly what you're saying. These are all troubled kids. These were not straight A students whose grades just dropped. These were all kids from broken homes and foster homes and all that sort of stuff who were smoking at age of 12, 13 and 14. They were drinking. They were doing drugs. And that's an easy, nice, easy way in of course, drugs. Right.
But how do you even begin to other than with the adults in this? Because, like I said, social services failed these children terribly. There were reports that something was going on, police ignored it and all that sort of stuff, which is, I am let to believe still the biggest problem is that people ignore it when a child or a young adult or even a woman. (I mean, we’ve heard this during the whole metoo movement. We kind of know, right? “That's the story I told people. But people didn't believe me sort of thing”). How do you, as a lay person? Because in this case, the system failed. We are very tempted. I personally as an individual, I'm very tempted to think “ Yeah but other people are dealing with this stuff, right? Therefore, I am not.” That is the implication there, other people are looking at this. I don't have to”.
How do you as a layperson, which a teacher essentially is compared to a social worker that is already supposed to work with these kids. How do you then deal with being that person of safety to the kids, the person that does believe them, the person that sees that actually, “this isn't about smoking and drinking but something else is going on here.” How do you from a presentation perspective and a teaching perspective, how do you get through to the teachers?
Stephanie; That's a great question. I think that anything that is not typical deserves a second look. So if there was typical behaviour with this child and then all of a sudden there's a typical behaviour that is an indicator that something is wrong. And regardless of what that is, we need to start asking questions. And I always tell teachers it's the questions behind the questions that we need to ask. So if you have a child who is in a sexual abuse situation or is being trafficked and you say, hey, are you being sexually abused? The answer is probably going to be no.
So we need to start asking the questions behind the questions. So” you've got this new friend or this new relationship. Tell me about that. I would love to hear more” or “Gosh. I've noticed that you're kind of dressing different. I love the new look. Tell me where that came from” or “You have a job. That's awesome. Where do you get to spend your money?”
And it's just really starting to ask those questions. So that when a kid who starts to talk to you because they see you as safe, I think that is in part how you do it. But it also requires, and this is what I would say to any teacher. Anybody really on the front lines. You've got to take care of yourself. You've got to look at your own trauma and make sure that your own trauma is not getting in the way of dealing with somebody else's trauma. Because so first, take care of yourself. If you've got traumatic situations, get help for those things. But secondary trauma is a real thing. And so when we are helping somebody who is dealing with trauma, that trauma can just really affect us, too. And so it becomes secondary trauma. So recognizing those things, taking care of yourself and not doing it alone, making sure that you've got a strong support system. You've got people around you. I had a teacher say to me once, “I really struggle every day because I know that I'm sending this child back into their trauma every day”. And what I always say to teachers is you are making a difference. You are making an impact and you may never see it. You may never see the seeds that you've planted grow into a harvest. You may never see it, but just know that you are. And sometimes it's those little just that little help from every individual can catapult a child who's struggling to overcoming. And so I think that knowing those things and working together in those areas is really critical.
Peter; No, it sounds very sensible to most as in something like that that makes sense. So how do you then, Bringing it back to the parents. Most of my listeners aren't teachers. Most of my listeners are parents. How do you obviously, it comes down to building a relationship with your child. That means that they are comfortable coming to you if there's anything happening, right. That is the basis of all this sort of stuff.
Where do you start with that? I think for most people, that's a difficult bit. Because obviously, again, you have some Samaritans as well in the States because these guys are everywhere doing lovely work. But usually what happens is; there's a program on the BBC about trafficking, but something like this, and then at the end of it, there's a little message. “Are you affected by any situation in this program call The Samaritans “or something like that? But where do you start as parents, though? Because it's a start. That's a difficult bit, right.
Stephanie; I agree.
I keep saying that's a great question, because they are.
I think, with parents. So this is the hard part, because I know I'm talking to some very young parents, which is great. And then some parents who are more mature, have older kiddos. And I would say this; As young as you can start that's where you start. So one of the things parents really need to teach their kids is about consent. It's important for them to understand that we need to ask permission whenever it comes to this bodily autonomy thing.
We get that sexually, right? So we need to ask for consent before we have sex with someone that makes sense. But we've got to start that conversation at a very young age. So I've got little Johnny here who’s five years old, and Aunt Gertrude comes and visits and wants a big hug and a kiss. Well, what if little Johnny says “no thank you, I do not want to hug and kiss Aunt Gertrude”
As a mom, you're initially kind of embarrassed. Oh, my gosh. But we have to learn at a very young age, we get to help our kids say, okay, you don't want to hug and kiss Aunt Gertrude? No problem. What else can we do? Can we give her a fist pump? Can we waive for whatever? And teaching kids at a very young age that they get to say no to even “good touch” is really important. Because what people who want to do harm count on is that they don't. We call them consent muscles. They don't have their consent muscles ready to go. And so if now I say, “hey, I want you to do this”. And I'm not comfortable, but I've kind of grown up and being taught it's rude to say no. Then that is a really hard piece to overcome. And so parents teaching kids consent at a very young age, having those conversations.
I think as parents, one of the biggest things we need to do is continue to be engaged with our kids constantly. I saw a dad sitting in a, we were in an orthodontist, and he was just texting away and on his social media and his little daughter was dancing in front of him, trying to get his attention, just doing everything she could. He would not look up. And so I think as parents, we need to be willing to “you want to talk about Minecraft for the next 15 hours. Okay. I'm listening.” As painful as that is going to be. And we need to be willing to have even those conversations so that when they come to us and say, “okay, now I need to talk about this. And this is going to be really hard for me”.
We're then ready to engage. And you said we can't react the first time they come to us with something that makes our hair curl. My hair is curly. This happened many times to me. The first time they come to you and say that you can't go. “What? I can't believe tha!!” You have to be calm internally, go crazy, but externally got to be calm and “gosh, thank you for sharing that”. Not that there won't be consequences. Not that you won't be a parent. But at that moment, you've got to just listen. And I think when we do all of those things, then there's a point where they can come to us and we're able to have that really tough conversation. It's got to start at a young age.
Peter; Yeah. And again, it starts with the entry level stuff, right? I know much more about the nether and Dragons than I ever care to know about. I just genuinely don't care. I don't understand it, but I know it! Bone meal has to be made, but I have no idea how to actually put this into future use. But it is indeed starting, I suppose, starting with; if you've never had a conversation with someone before on any sort of minor, meaningful level, you are not a trusted person, I suppose is what you're saying, right.
Peter; If they can't come to you with the easy stuff, then they're not going to come to you with the more difficulty. Right. Well, it's interesting is what you're saying. I'm just looking at your website and the match details here. You have an interesting thing.
One of the interesting things here is that you're saying that “less than 2% of traffic and victims are recovered”, which to me, is a mind blowing number, because again, I watch Criminal Intent or I used to before it all turned to pot.
Stephanie; Yes they’re always recovering them, right?
Peter; Exactly! There was one series was based on the girl that was recovered, and then she helped the FBI find all the other victims, and she found them all. And that was kind of the whole point. Otherwise, I'm not watching misery television. Right?
Peter; So when you say 2%!! I mean even Liam Neeson has a better success rate than that, right? That's an astonishing statistic.
It is. Which is why our goal is to stop trafficking before it starts, because there are so few recovered.
Now, part of that is because the life of trafficking is really hard. And so once they say that the life span of a trafficked individual is about seven years. So whether that is death, whether that's drug overdose or whatever, it's a very short lifespan, it's a tough life. And so that in and of itself. But the biggest reason that's the case is because traffickers use the grooming process to lure the individual traffic. So they target, they build trust, they fill a need.
Then they isolate, sexualize you as a product, and then they maintain control. So the person who goes into the grooming process is never the same person who comes out of the grooming process. It changes who we are.
So now we have the person who's saying, “Why would I leave my trafficker?” And I'm not going to call them my trafficker. I'm going to call them my boyfriend, my girlfriend, my partner. Why would I leave this person? They love me. They take care of me. They fill all of my needs emotional and physical. I have a place to stay. I have a roof over my head. I've got food to eat. And so why would I leave this trafficker who I've now formed a strong trauma bond with and go to you to do what?
And so a survivor actually said; “If you want to help a trafficked individual, you better be prepared to give them everything or more than their traffickers giving them”.
So part of the reason we see such a low number is the rate of going back after being recovered is really high. “Why would I leave this? This is all I know. This is where I feel safe and secure”. Ironically enough. And so it's just we definitely as an organization want to stop that before it starts.
Peter; So it's really similar to just say, the more standard abusive relationships that we are more familiar with in adults. rather than because kids is more uncomfortable. Right. We can kind of get the husband wife beating each other sort of thing. When I say “beating each other” it’s usually one direction, but with children, it adds another level of discomfort. And that's why I suppose we don't view that relationship as a similar relationship to the abusive relationship between husband and wife, where we accept that when somebody gets out, the chances of them going back is high.
I suppose from an outside perspective, again, we view kids as being rescued rather than which we don't do with women. We don't do that with abused women. We don't view them as recued;
Stephanie; You’re right. We say, Why in the world don't they leave? Why don't they leave their partner? And we hear that a lot with traffic individuals. Why in the world don't they leave that situation? Same reason, you are absolutely right.
And it's very similar. Domestic violence. Abusive relationship looks a lot like.. Trafficking looks a lot like domestic abuse. It's very closely linked, different, but very closely linked. And so we also educate on healthy relationships because our kids need to know what that looks like, what a healthy versus an unhealthy relationship looks like.
Peter; That seems to make sense because, again, different generation. I don't know what it's like in schools now. I always put that caveat in during interview with people like yourself. Because otherwise I get emails from teachers going; “And that's not the way it works at all, you jackass”. But what I was taught in school and I'm Dutch. I was raised in the Dutch education system. We're fairly liberal in our approach to I got sex ed and I'm 46. So I got when I was twelve or 13. So that's 30 years ago. So I think compared to the UK, at least a bit ahead of our time in regards to sex ed.
I was never given relationship advice. As in, “this is when you say there's a good relationship”. I have no idea. I just know that I'm not going to beat my wife because I'm not a jackass. Do you know what I mean?
Stephanie; Well, yeah. So those things are learned through modelling, right. And so you've got good modelling going on in your life. Great. Now you can have a healthy relationship, too. But if all you've been modelled is violence or abuse or destruction, well, that's going to be your normal. And so we weren't taught about healthy relationships either.
Peter; No. Exactly. I'm not sure whether it's different now. I doubt it somehow.
Stephanie; That's a good question. We have in some of our school system here the health classes are just not that strong. There's not a lot of comprehensive health. And I think if there were, it would be very much on the STDs and things like that. Important to know and important to understand but it does not equate to healthy or nonhealthy relationships. And so that's where we come in just to really give that.
And with kids, we love it to be very conversational because we are the experts on sex trafficking. And so that is something. Yeah. But kids, I like to say, are the experts in their relationships.
And so let's talk about what that looks like. Let's do some critical thinking. And what are your deal breakers and relationships and what will you tolerate? Won't you tolerate? what should you? What shouldn't you? and all of those things. And I love having those conversations with kids because they get it.
Peter; Well, I suppose as well, because again, this is something from my perspective. And almost every parent I speak to that has older kids, so say eight to 15. Right. It is not just one different generation. It's like five generations between them. I mean, I cannot relate with the life of an eight year old. The world they grew up in is so fundamentally different from the one even their parents grew up in. Yeah. This is what we find now with the whole transgender debate and the pronoun debate. Right. Most of the pronoun debate isn't a debate for 14 year olds. They're completely fine. They don’t give a shit. They or he or she, they're completely fine. It's my generation that struggles.
Stephanie; Well, how many times are you watching an 80s movie and you say, pick up your cell phone. We live in a very different world.
Peter; Exactly. I suppose for parents to really have an idea as to what healthy online relationships. Because when you're talking healthy relationships, you're also talking healthy online relationships. I suppose. What they look like is different from. I had a chat with someone the other day on the podcast, and we were talking about how a lot of parents view social media in the way that my parents viewed television. As in just don't do it too much, don't spend too much time on the computer, don't watch too much. It is bad for you! But it's different now. A lot of relationships are online, and a lot of “ins” are obviously online. When we're talking about people who want to do us harm a lot of the “ins” and, like you said earlier on, a lot of information is online.
We're talking to social media safety. It's not just talking to strangers because most people we talk to, I suppose, would not be strangers anymore. By the time we start, kids start talking to them. Kids have different.
How do you as an older say, as a parent? Again, how do you spot an unhealthy relationship a child has online that could then potentially lead into something else? I'm not saying they all do. But how do you spot an unhealthy relationship online when the relationship they have online are so fundamentally different from our generation of sending a text message?
Stephanie; Well, one of the things we really do talk to kids about at that middle school and high school age is really online is not where you want to form a relationship. So that's not where you want to meet somebody. And we really do want to use our in-person contacts, schools, churches, whatever it may be. That's where you want to meet people and let's connect there. And we can have those relationships in person and on social media. But I think that what the big. And again, as a parent is having those conversations. I encourage parents to do social media checks or to do media checks. Take your kids phone, take their computer, take their media and look through it. It sounds invasive, but our job as parents is not to make them happy. It's to get them to adulthood and being good, productive citizens, but alive.
We want them alive. And so we actually do have a job to do there. And I think when we see something online that looks very similar, somebody who's controlling, somebody who is abusive in their language. “You're an idiot”. “You're this, you're that”. Somebody who doesn't respect boundaries. Please don't call me past eight. And now you're calling 100 times. You know, those are the types of things we look for. That say, gosh, that's not probably the healthiest relationship for you. How does that make you feel? Does that make you feel good about yourself? Does it make you feel bad about yourself? And having those conversations a I think that's what unhealthy online looks like.
Peter And that ties in with what you said earlier with regards to being able to say no and that sort of autonomy. I know several instances of this younger girl/lady that I know, she's daughter of one of my clients. She's not being bullied by certain people in school, but they are always nasty to her online. And the question I always immediately go to, “why do you not unfriend them or block them or whatever”? Her answer is “Because they're in my class. I have to be friends online with everybody in my class”. And that comes back to what you were saying, right where as an adult and I like to think I'm a reasonably healthy adult, I can just say “no. I don't have to be friends with anyone”. Teaching kids. That's a difficult one.
Stephanie; That's hard to teach some adults. I think that is a really fabulous thing to talk to kids about and to teach them about that. Again, it goes back to that consent piece, and it goes back to really having/recognizing your value. And if someone's treating you in a negative way, you get to say disengage. In fact, our acronym for our curriculum is “ready to stand”. And one of the big things that we talk about is you can disengage, don't engage.
No, I'm not going to be able to do this because I can't see it. But the D is “don't engage”. So it's saying, okay, you don't even have to engage with that person. Not only don't communicate with the person, but you can actually just remove them. You can unplug. And that is really foreign. I will ask people, what do you do if someone's bullying you? What are some of your options? And the majority of people never say unplug.
You get to unplug. You really can. And teaching kids that ”you don't have to do anything just because everybody else is doing it”. Those are really important things.
Peter; Yeah, I mean I could have done with the Auntie conversation you were talking about
Where were you when I was told to give Granny a kiss? Don’t want to kiss Granny because I don't love Granny, but just because Granny, she smells of stuff. But it is interesting that it comes down to that. And I think that that makes an awful lot of sense; empowering kids, empowering children and adults and all that sort of stuff to set boundaries and be okay with that. Yet at the same time, like you said, as a parent; that doesn't mean you have to give your kids complete Privacy and all that sort of stuff that you can never check the social media because the whole “invading”. I had no Privacy when I was a kid. None.
Like I always say on this thing; Your job as a parent is to raise a reasonably responsible adult. That is your job.
Stephanie; That's right.
Peter; Your job is not to be besties with your kid. Your job is also not to be an asshole, but it's a middle ground. No, that's awesome. Empowering your kids. I think that's a message we'll take away from this. On that happy note. Did you have anything else you wanted to touch on?
Stephanie; No, I think that is great. I would just say if anybody has questions for us, don't hesitate to reach out. We do travel, and we love to do that. But we also have an opportunity for agencies who want to do this work. We actually sell our curriculum model and support the agencies for an entire year until they recertify and then we do it again. And so we teach them not only the curriculum, which is our own, but we also teach them how to present it because that's the key with youth. It has to be engaging. It has to be fun. And it has to come with humour. So that is definitely something we would love to partner with agencies across the world.
Peter; Yeah, that sounds awesome. Sounds like a good idea, because I think, to be honest, your whole project, the whole “Set Me Free” project like a very worthwhile thing that I definitely think a lot of schools can do with.
And of course, I'm now going to get an email from someone saying “we also do this in the UK, you jackass”. Yeah, but there's room for more. That's all I'm saying.
Stephanie; We want every kiddo to be educated so important and one agency can't do it.
Peter; Exactly, this is not a competition. This is not a fundraising competition. So on that note I will press Stop record.
Which is exactly what I did. Thanks again to Stephanie for coming on. It is much appreciated as always. Like I said, she's the CEO of the Set Me Free Project. I will link to all their stuff. You can find her at setmefreeproject.net and all that sort of thing.
But again, that's all in the website description as well. I thought it was fascinating. I don't know what you thought I thought it was fascinating. I loved having her on;
In the News this week, as Buddy cleans his paws in the background, the impact of weight cycling on risk of mobility and mortality.
It's a study that came out in 2014. So quite a while ago, someone said “in the news this week” about seven years ago.
But I got a lot of emails asking me about diet and whether it is a bad idea to go on a diet too often.
Weight cycling is usually unintentional weight gain. So you lose weight through dieting and then you gain some of it back and all this sort of stuff sometimes more than you've lost. This is really popular these days in the Health At Every Size community. The idea that dieting somehow makes you ill.
Obviously not eating makes you ill, right? But the idea that dieting and failing to stick to your diet makes you ill is really popular and it is complete the hokum. It is just not true.
If you find yourself to be morbidly obese and you need to lose a bit of weight for your health. So I'm not talking about aesthetics, but for your health. And then you find that after a while, you can't stick to the diet and you gain that weight back. You haven't failed and ruined your health in the meantime. So it's not healthier not to try and all that sort of stuff. The study is very clear on this. I mean, as Buddy Yawns in the background because he's a little bit of a Jackass, isn't he? Yeah.
Basically, they've had a look at 20-30 studies that have looked into unintentional weight gain either in mice or in people. These studies have looked at them. And then these guys have just collected all the information and looked at it. Whether there really is a link, they have found none. There just isn't one. I will link to the study and I'll tell what we'll do next week. We will do a diet podcast.
I think that is a good idea. There's a lot of myths kicking about. Any questions you have, because next week this is the podcast, the 24th. So that'll be the podcast for the second, the third or something like that. I will put something up on the Internet now.
I might see if I can get one or two guests on. We're going to dispel five or ten myths. Any questions you have, any myths you've come across if you're like, “Dude, let me know what the answer is”. We will dispel them. We will go into them. And again, we'll be talking diets for eating well for health. We're not talking solely aesthetic purposes.
So there won't be any judgment. There won't be any of that sort of stuff.
If you're obese, you're obese. If you want to lose it, you want to lose it. Don't tell people they shouldn't lose it. We're just looking at the science of all this sort of stuff. The genuine science, not the bro science. And definitely not the “all science is wrong science”, right? So that's what we'll do. And that's the podcast for this weekend, right? Thank you very much for listening. As always, give us a like. Give us a review. If you can be much appreciated. We've been getting quite a few reviews through quite a few clickies. And that really is the best you can do for the podcast or tell people your listing. Of course. Anyways, I'm yawning my way through this now, so I'm going to hang up here's a new bit of music. Take care. Bye now.