Guest post by Anna Beth
John 10:10 reads “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV). Human trafficking is, in essence, a slap in the face to the freedom and fullness of life Christ came to give.
Human Trafficking is defined by the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000) as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to induce, compel, or subject an individual to provide labor, services, or commercial sex against their will. Any minor under the age of 18 involved in commercial sex acts is automatically deemed a victim of human trafficking.
Most people know that human trafficking exists. What most people do not know is that we have more than 30 million slaves worldwide, more slaves then at any other point of time. While many people know that children are sold into sex trafficking overseas, we often don’t realize the extent to which sex trafficking happens in our own backyards.
Human trafficking is one of the top three crimes worldwide, ranking with weapons and drugs, because slaves are a “product” that keeps on selling with the profits remaining with one person. In other words, if someone were to sell a bag of meth or cocaine, they could bring in a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars, but once it’s sold, it’s gone. Same with weapons (just higher income). With a sex slave, a pimp (men who find, coerce, and sell victims), brothel owner, or slave holder, can sell a virgin child for at least 750 dollars for one night, and then anywhere from 30 dollars a sex act to a couple hundred dollars for an hour. Then that same pimp can sell the “product” again and again, with most “products” seeing an average of 7-15 clients a day, or in the case of a brothel, 4 men an hour and 25-48 men a day (which amounts to each “product”, being woman or child, bringing in over 10,000 dollars a month for their owner). Pimps make over 6-7 hundred thousand each year by managing 4-6 people. The pimp can also film the sex acts and make even more money off that one “product” through the pornography industry, making another several hundred to a thousand off of one sex act. Brothel/club owners can make millions.
Sex trafficking is, in essence, one of the cruelest forms of abuse a human being can suffer. From the moment a child or person is sold or taken, they are brutally raped, tortured, and beaten each day, first by the slave holder/pimp, then by the “customers”. This happens until they are killed, commit suicide, or are rescued.
Unfortunately, many people’s (including law officers) attitudes towards prostitutes/sex workers severely limit the amount of rescues and help that could be provided. Many view prostitutes as the scum of the earth and never realize that the women they are scorning are actually victims and not career women, that they need help, not jail time. If a pimp is involved, it is most likely sex trafficking. There are very few (nearly non-existent) prostitutes who are doing it out of free will. The more awareness that is raised, the more likely it is that human trafficking will someday be mostly a thing of the past.
What parents can/should do:
• Be aware of what is in your town, and your neighboring towns.
• Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to human trafficking. Be open and honest with your kids when age appropriate. Let them know what to be careful of, and what to watch out for.
• Whatever boundaries set in place for a child’s protection, those boundaries have to be explained. This is not an appropriate time for “because I said so.” Children need to know how to be safe because there will come a time when they will have to recognize the warning signs, the red flags, and not have any adult around. For example, when one teaches a child to look both ways before crossing the street, one tells the child it is because they have to be safe from the cars, they don’t want to get hit. Someday, when that child crosses the street by themselves they will be able to make a well-informed on how to cross safely and why they need to do so. We, as parents, have the ability to teach our children how to be safe from predators in hopes that someday, if they ever come across a bad situation, they will know what to do and back away, and not cross through life unawares.
• Know who your child’s friends are, and who those friends are dating. Pay attention to how they dress, how they talk, and their mannerisms, also, pay attention to tattoos. Know who those friend’s families are.
o The story of “Brianna” is a perfect example of why it’s important to know friends and friend’s families. “One evening when she was 12 years old she got into a fight with her mom and ran out to join friends. ‘I didn’t want to go home, because I thought I’d get in trouble,” she said, and a friend’s older brother told her she could stay at his place. Brianna figured that she would go home in the morning — and that that would teach her mom a lesson. But when morning arrived, her new life began.” http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2018024765_kristof20.html
o This is a time for having a “look both ways before you cross” rule…parents should teach children how to be safe with friends. If it is someone the parent does not know well, make sure a buddy system is in place if a meeting is to take place. This can be anything from playing at a park together to meeting someone at the curb to give them a notebook left behind from school, to meeting someone at a coffee house. Don’t assume that just because a child is older, or raised in a good home, they will have good friends.
• Keep tabs on what your children are doing while connected to the internet, for two reasons. The first is that children often times stumble across pornography between the ages of 11 and 13, and pornography is a sexual predator in itself due to the lasting effects it can have. Secondly, because many pimps use the internet to draw in children through chat rooms, online gaming sites, and social media.
o Remind your children to never to share any personal information (even last names).
o Teach them not to download or open any attachment without talking to you first.
o Ask them to tell an adult if there is anything they see online that they perceive is shameful or bad.
o Ask them to tell an adult if anyone is talking to them and asking for personal information, pictures of themselves, or “sweet talking” them.
• The goal is to engage your children so that they take ownership of the decisions they will have to make through life…regardless of whether their child is 4, or 24.
• In Biblical perspective, continuously remind and teach your children about who they are in Christ, and their value as a human. Very few children escape childhood unscathed by others, but by helping them build a firm foundation and understanding who Christ made them to be they will be able to see Satan’s lies and determine God’s truth.
What parents should know:
• It is much more likely that a child will become a victim of sexual abuse then it is for them to become a victim of trafficking. However, trafficking rates involving children are steadily increasing.
• Many pimps meet girls by prowling around schools, malls, movie theaters, parks, bus stops, group homes, restaurants, coffee shops…places where adolescents would generally be without an adult.
• Girls are often recruited between the ages of 11-14, a time in their life when they are trying to find their identity and struggle with low self-esteem. Girls this age often feel that they are not pretty enough, they are not good enough, not loved enough, and self-confidence is very low. Recruitment usually starts with an older guy (usually early-mid twenties) showering a girl with praises, telling her she’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen, and that she is his dream come true. When one looks at this from a Christian perspective, the Spiritual warfare waged during a girls critical growing times are brutal as Satan tries to tell them that who they are, who they were created to be, is not good enough and never will be. In other words, pimps target the vulnerability of girls.
• Not every child or adolescent taken is from a bad home or considered at-risk. While most are, there is still a good number of kids who are from normal, safe, homes. In 2006, a straight A student from a good home was taken at 16 when she was asked to meet an acquaintance by the curb in front of her house (http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=1596778&page=1#.T8pvHMUjauI).
• Pimps target minors due to them being naive, who are virgins; inexperienced and unknowledgeable, and who have adolescent bodies ( a big sell point on the streets)
• Middle schools are big hunting ground for pimps, and not everyone who “recruits” is a pimp, many are girls who are recruiting for the pimps.
• Boys are also at risk, but girls are more common.
In conclusion, 1 Peter 5:8 encourages us to “Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat” (ERV). We cannot know what the future holds for our children, but we can help them be prepared and be ready for whatever might come their way. Many cases of sex trafficking could have been avoided had the adolescents known more information and been made aware of how to keep themselves safe.
When slavery was legal in the US and Europe, records were kept, paper trails were left, and we had a general idea of how many slaves there were. However, with modern day slavery, there are very few concrete statistics because nothing is legal, and therefore we don’t get the paper trails of how many people are being sold into slavery each day. The following statistics are estimates at best and are generally on the small side. It is suspected that there are more slaves then we could ever prove.
• There are approximately 100,000 child sex slaves in the US each year, not including minors and adults. However, there are between 200-300,000 children who are at risk each year of being sexually exploited.
• “12 is the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution in the U.S.” – The US Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity (http://www.atg.wa.gov/HumanTrafficking/SexTrafficking.aspx)
• 1 out of every 5 pornographic images is of a child.
• If you suspect human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.3737.888.
(I have seen both of these, very well done and informative, but intense):
• Trade (http://www.tradethemovie.com/)
• Human Trafficking (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0461872/)
• Silence is Shameful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59uh_85iIrw
• Constance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqyLRpGgxRs
This post completes the “Protecting Our Children From Predators” series. You can read the rest of the series here:
I’m Anna Beth, a full time stay-at-home wife and mom with a passion for living justly for Christ. I became interested in pursuing justice a few years ago while in Costa Rica and Mexico, where I met many wonderful people who will never live above poverty or be healthy because of the poor work conditions and chemicals used to grow our food and make our clothing. When I returned home, I started taking baby steps to live organically and fair trade as much as I could. Recently, my passion for justice has taken me into the realm of human trafficking and the sex trade, seeking to raise awareness and find freedom for the oppressed and forgotten.