Drugs, Children and Exploitation: Smartphone Dangers

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

Smartphones are wonders of technology. You have a supercomputer with the wealth of knowledge the world has to offer at your fingertips. You can run just about your entire home from your phone. You can track any number of people or be tracked through GPS technology. You can scroll yourself crazy on social media all hours of the day. But, as wonderful a tool as your smartphone can be, it can also be a terrible weapon in the right hands. In fact, a look into the latest global trend may just make you want to throw your phone in the nearest lake.

The Guardian posted an article on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 about a scary global trend that started in the UK. Drug gangs use smartphones to control and therefore exploit children. Let me be clear, while this is a trend begun in the UK, we know that social media has a way of spreading ideas like a virus. Do not think for a second that because you are in Germany or the United States or India that your children are immune to this. You as a parent, need to be hyper-aware of what your children are up to on their phones, and if you see signs of what I am about to detail, get law enforcement involved immediately. This is not a trend to be trifled with.

Now for the nitty-gritty details- not to scare you, but to make you painfully aware of what is going on, so that you know what to look for. The gist of the article is that drug gangs are using children’s smartphones to glorify gangs, recruit members, and track their movements as they distribute drugs from the cities to more rural settings.

The first step is Glorification. Gangs post videos on You Tube and posts on Snapchat that show the benefits of gang life… the fun and the power and the money. Some kids are naturally attracted to that ideal, and when you get a whole group of those kids together, others who would not ordinarily have been attracted to it are drawn in through peer pressure. This leads to step 2.

The second step is Recruitment. Gangs post specific Snapchat and Instagram photos of other children in trap houses with stacks of money to attract recruits. Once they bite the bait, the children are forced to go through “initiation.” Some have detailed their experiences being forced to have sex or to shove drugs into their pubic orifices while being filmed. There are other atrocities as well, but the point is that the initiation process is actually a backdoor to step three.

The third step is Blackmailing. Those horrendous videos taken during the initiation process are held over the children’s heads. Gangs threaten to release the videos to gain obedience and cooperation. Sometimes, they will release the video anyway just to ensure compliance. The humiliating video forces the child to try to re-climb the gang ladder to gain respect.

This leads to the fourth step- tracking. Children are forced to traffic drugs across the country, and their every move is watched through GPS or via livestream. They threaten the families of the children to force compliance. The Guardian details that “Gang members send children pictures of their mother’s front door when they are on an operation and threaten to firebomb the house if they stop working for them. Young people are told their phone must be switched on and charged at all times and they must answer it within two rings, or they are threatened with violent repercussions.” Once they are in, there is no out.

The scariest part of this whole scenario is that no one knew or took it seriously for a long time. We are going to change that. Parents, you are the front lines to combatting such atrocities. The best medicine is prevention. Have serious and difficult conversations with your children. Trust me, they may hurt now, but the hard conversations are easier than the after-effects. And, parents, if all else fails, take the phone away. Yes, I said it. Take the phone away. Yes, they will protest, and no, they probably will not understand, but YOU are their parents. If you won’t do what it takes to protect your children, who will?

Realize that children are trusting and vulnerable and gullible, and their brains literally are not fully developed. Yet, we are giving humans that cannot physically make cognitive, intelligent decisions access to a supercomputer on a daily basis and not supervising them? This needs to end now. Stop this before it becomes a truly global trend.



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