Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Lynda Harlos of Parent With Purpose Is Helping To Change Our World

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Leadership is ensuring that what you do, your success, is teachable enough for anyone else to share that knowledge forward. Good leadership would mean you have been an excellent example and have shown others how to do what you do, and therefore might make it so that you are out of a job because you were able to lead others into it with ease.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynda Harlos

Lynda is a ‘Sex Trafficking & Abuse Prevention Educator’ for Parents and Professionals who are in contact with children between the ages of 2–25. She is also a Keynote speaker, Author, and Family Coach and hosts a Parenting Talk Show.

A mother of a sex trafficking victim, she endeavors to turn their ‘Pain into Purpose’ globally in the hopes of preventing victimization. In doing so, she works with many organizations, including several Victim Services across Canada, Covenant House, Courage for Freedom, and many more.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Originally I started Parent With Purpose as a blog to help parents with every day issues, but after 2019 when we discovered my daughter had been Sex Trafficked, I decided to turn this platform into a learning hub regarding ‘Domestic Sex Trafficking’ so that no one else would ever have to put their heads on their pillows at night with naivety being the reason someone they love had gotten trafficked or abused.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Nothing about what I do is interesting but hopefully it is life altering. I educate people on What Domestic Sex Trafficking really is. Hoping they will learn that it doesn’t usually look like what the movies or media portray. I also show my audience how to identify what their loved ones vulnerabilities are, and show them how a trafficker will use those vulnerabilities to lure them. Lastly, I teach age-appropriate consent, as most victims, including my daughter, think they have consented to what is happening to them. When in fact, they were coerced into consent, or threatened, which makes it so it was not true consent. I teach on all of this in the hopes of preventing someone they know or love from getting trafficked.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My story is more ironic rather than funny, because the one reason I do what I do is because of my mistakes. If I had of know what ‘Domestic’ Sex Trafficking really was, if I had of understood how vulnerable my daughter was after being gang raped, and becoming pregnant due to that rape, and if I had of know what ‘true’ consent was and taught that to my daughter, than I truly believe she would not have been trafficked. But I didn’t, and she did. I just want my mistakes to be other people’s learning ground so that no one they know will have to go through this.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

My end goal is to make it so no one else on the planet will have the excuse of naivety being the cause of someone they know or loved to get abused or trafficked.
We bring awareness to this topic and do speaking events, workshops and presentations globally to ensure this goal. We also ensure our website is chock full of resources to help keep their family unit healthy and to educate.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Most people are very private about their stories when they talk to me, and I respect their privacy. I can tell you that whenever I have an in-person presentation and sometimes even during the online workshops I will have someone come to me and give me a story about what is happening in their lives, and how our workshop/presentation helped them understand this crime better. Many have told us that they were so grateful that they had learned how to keep their families safe from Sex Trafficking and abuse.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

The number one problem I deal with is ‘making people aware that they need to know this information. Making people listen. Pulling their heads out of the sand and making them aware of how easy it is for this crime to infect their own lives, or the lives of those they love. Making them understand that knowledge is what will protect them:
Here are 3 ways that people with power or money can help:

1. People will ask, how do you end human trafficking.
The answer is quite simple. If the rule of supply and demand is true, and we take away the ‘demand’ then there will be no need to supply sex, cheap labour, organs.
The fix to ending human trafficking is for the people in power to charge anyone who is found being part of the ‘demand’ in this cycle: meaning if someone is buying sex, they should be charged, if someone is paying cheaply for labour, they should be charged, etc. Stop focusing on trying to find the trafficker, or the person that is being exploited and start cracking down on humans not respecting other humans who assume they can ‘buy, take or steal’ what they want.

2. People in power can help those of us trying to prevent this crime, by giving us more ‘accessible’ grants to get the message out there. More money should be given to prevention so that we will not need to fund organizations to rescue these girls. Prevention is easier than rescue, and a lot less expensive.

3. If we could get professional media done (high quality) and get high profile people who would be willing to promote the education of Prevention, people would listen.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is ensuring that what you do, your success, is teachable enough for anyone else to share that knowledge forward. Good leadership would mean you have been an excellent example and have shown others how to do what you do, and therefore might make it so that you are out of a job because you were able to lead others into it with ease.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

The link to the video for this is:

“5 things I wish someone told me when I first started”

5. Be ready and willing to learn from others. Allowing others to challenge you might lead you to learn something new or a better way to do things.

4 . It’s okay if others don’t like you or what you are doing. In fact, because you are fighting evil, it is guaranteed they won’t like you. I shouldn’t have been, but I was shocked when I had someone hack my accounts and try to discredit me. I find it difficult to realize that others have nothing better to do than to try and hurt those who are trying to educate and prevent others from being trafficked or abused. It is a simple truth, and I doubt it will ever stop because there is a lot of money to be made in Trafficking, so those who benefit from this crime will not like us and will try and stop those of us who are bringing awareness to this.

It is not just those trying to stop me that don’t like me. Even the general population often backs away from me when they learn what I do. My job makes them uncomfortable. They either think I am contagious, and they need to step away from me before whoever did this to my daughter might find them and infect them and their loved ones, or they think I must have been a terrible parent and want nothing to do with me. Proving their ignorance of this topic, but then again, I remember being that judgmental of many other parents with many other issues.

However, working around these challenges is also good as it helps YOU remember your why, keeping you focused and fighting the good fight.

Which leads me to my #3.

I wish someone had told me to ensure I surround myself with other like-minded people. It’s hard doing what I do, and others in similar situations can help keep me motivated.

Educating others on such a difficult topic is challenging, and due to the subject matter, devastation is inevitable in the wake of this crime I am trying to stop. Therefore, you must find others who are trying to fight the good fight so you don’t ever have to feel like you are fighting alone, and so you will have others who can help you cope with the stress of the job.

2. In my fight to educate, I wrote a book titled ‘Walk a Mile.’ I wish someone had told me that writing the book would be the easiest part. The editing and the work needed to self-publish after months of being unable to find an agent was all a nightmare. I would have still written the book as it is another educational piece that I hope will bring awareness to this subject, but knowing what would be needed to get this done would have prepared me a lot more. It might have helped me not feel like such a failure in the lack of speed in completing this project.

1. The #1 thing I wish someone had told me before I started Parent With Purpose is that it is impossible to make people listen. Trying to help people understand that this crime is in their communities, maybe even in their homes, and they might not have any clue is the most challenging thing in the world to accept, but never did I realize how people would refuse to believe that it could be true. I cannot blame them because I also sat in my suburban home as a stay-at-home, community-based, faith-based mom and assumed this topic would never affect me, so I stayed ignorant. Because I was one of them, you would think I would know how to make them listen, but I still cannot do that in most cases. My free monthly workshops should be full of parents wanting to learn how to protect their loved ones from this crime. Instead, most of those who sign up for the workshops are employees of organizations in the same field who are just trying to learn more about this subject to be more effective.

The most frustrating thing is that my friends and family members haven’t even bothered to take my workshop after five years of doing this work. I have a brother whose granddaughter is currently in a very unhealthy relationship, and he had no idea that she might also be a victim of Trafficking. How do I get anyone else to listen if I can’t even make my family listen?

Trying to make anyone listen is THE most challenging obstacle.

But This I know: if someone had told me how impossible it is to make others listen, I would still be doing everything I could, every single day, to try to ensure that at least one more person has had the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I will do whatever I can to educate them on this subject. I do not want anyone else to put their head on their pillow at night, with naivety being the only reason someone they know, and love got trafficked or abused.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire people to realize that the sex act itself should be treated with a lot more respect and reverence. Sex needs to be earned. Never taken, never given in haste, always done with the utmost respect and reverence of the other person they are having sex with.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There are two things I live by.

A very famous quote, “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.’
I want to ensure that I don’t let evil flourish, that includes the buying and selling of Sex and slavery in this world, especially of our children.
Tim McGraw says in his song humble. ‘When you get where you’re going, don’t forget to turn back around and help the next one in line.’ If my journey can prevent anyone else from having to have a loved one go through something like ‘being sex trafficked,’ then I will bare my soul, my story, my experience to help prevent this from happening to others.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Steve Harvey. He is one of the wisest, and Godly men I know. He believes in family, healthy relationships, and doing whatever you need to, in order to keep your loved ones safe, happy, and healthy. He is down to earth, and practical in his suggestions to those that come to him looking for advice.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Face Book page:



Youtube channel: @ Parent With Purpose

Instagram: (just recently after being hacked, I had to start another one, couldn’t get my old one back like I did with Facebook)

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Lynda Harlos of Parent With Purpose Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.