None of us want to think or believe that our kids could be targeted for human trafficking while out on a regular shopping errand. But one Southern California mother believes this is exactly what happened to her little family while shopping for a new couch at IKEA.
Diandra Toyos is a sweet mother of three, ages 4, 1.5 and 7 weeks, who was recently shopping with her kids and mother at the popular IKEA home furnishing store. As they were trying out new couches, Toyos became aware of a “well dressed, middle aged man” who was circling the area, watching her kids closely. After an extended time of remaining observant, even finding that there was a second man who paid unusual attention to her kids as well, Toyos felt there was intended harm upon her children and her mind went straight to human trafficking.
She describes her experience in this now-viral Facebook post, accompanied by a picture from that day of her and her kids:
She explains her train of thought and what she did throughout the scare, and honestly, I understand why she was worried. I’d be freaked out, too, if I saw a couple of men obviously following my family, acting shady, their eyes trained on my kids as if they were treasure to obtain! She finishes her post with a sincere and well-intended reminder to all parents to be attentive to their kids instead of on their phones (which she admits to being getting distracted with before).
At face value, this is a great post to go viral. It’s a topic we need a reminder of, Toyos is not looking for attention, and she just uses her own experience to give her opinion, heavily relying on her parental gut feeling. So what’s wrong? The trolls.
Toyos had to edit her original post to add extra notes she deemed mostly ridiculous, but necessary, since her parenting and judgment were being called into question by the trolls of the Internet, out to nit-pick and totally distract from the whole point. If you scroll through a few pages of the comments her post received, you’ll find that many people are supportive, thanking her for the reminder and glad she and her kids turned out okay.
But sprinkled through the well wishes and tags for friends, you’ll see the skeptical comments. Whether these people are parents as well, or just had an opinion they felt they should share, many comments called Toyos a liar or exaggerator. Many doubted that human trafficking would ever happen at such a well-lit, populated store like IKEA and accused her of making it all up to get attention.
Worst of all were the people who completely missed the point. Toyos just wanted to point out that human trafficking is possible, even in our great country of America, and anyone could become victims of such. She doesn’t claim to be an expert on the subject—she’s just describing her personal experience and worries. Yet, there were many comments that completely missed the mark, focusing solely on her parenting, instead. Many were saying she was either horrible for letting her kids climb on the couches (um, how else are you going to test out a potential new piece of furniture?) or that she was being TOO controlling, hovering over her kids with an intense amount supervision (“let kids be kids”). The fact that Toyos had to divert attention from her original post, which was a worthy subject, to justifying why she let her kids get on the couches is ridiculous.
Why do we do this? Why do we hone in on a few little details that are none of our business and ignore the intended purpose of the entire post? Who cares if she did make up or exaggerate the experience? The point was to remind and encourage parents to be more self-aware so we can protect our children against predators, who a very real threat.
But hey, why care about the important stuff when we can take the chance to tear down a mother for what picture she decided to use to accompany her warning?
It’s perfectly okay to disagree with Toyos about how she handled it, if they really were a human trafficking target, or to think she just made it all up. But the reminder is real: be aware of your kids to keep them safe because you never know what could happen.
And please stop Internet trolling.
Shaking your head and just scrolling past something you don’t agree with is still an action you’re welcome (and encouraged) to take.