We see human trafficking and, more specifically, child sex trafficking, in the news occasionally. Sometimes we even hear about another child gone missing, though cases are rarely headlined in this context. Looking closely at this problem from the inside, the reality is stark. The “troubled” kids are not the only ones targeted. This is a horrific business that continues to grow. Whether you are aware of it or not, it is growing right next door.
CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING DEFINED
To find a succinct “official” definition is not so straight-forward, unless we rely on all-things Wiki or independent websites. I have a career which has afforded me the opportunity to attend closed classes with individuals that work on the front lines of these problems across America, so I am clear on the definitions and process.
That said, in an effort to aid in awareness of those still uninformed, I did a basic internet search to find an agreed-upon, succinct definition of child sex trafficking without having to study complex laws and legal verbiage. Many examples exist. However, what I found most helpful were the relevant Federal Codes regarding coercion, involuntary servitude, debt bondage and commercial sex acts. To take a closer look, you can visit the website of Cornell Law University, citing U.S. Code §7102 (Definitions): https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/22/7102
Articles also exist, though they are scarcely helpful. Here is one excerpt that does contain a fairly good, brief definition:
“Georgia’s State Attorney General Samuel Olens calls human trafficking a brutal, complex and widespread crime. Olens says vulnerable people, often children [emphasis added], are sold and forced to have sex against their will.” Cited/Credit: Human Trafficking Brutal and Widespread in Georgia, posted Jan 11, 2014 7:31 PM PST, Updated Jan 29, 2015 7:03 PM PST. WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation. Entire Article Here: http://www.cbs46.com/story/24425994/human-trafficking-brutal-and-widespread-in-georgia#ixzz3olENGMwZ
I am of the opinion that every man, woman and child in every country needs to be well-versed on what child sex trafficking is and what they can do to not only protect their children, but shut the business down entirely. As with so many things that involve our legal system, this is easier said than done.
Many law enforcement officers, FBI agents and the like do not allow their children access to social media sites, cell phones with internet service, etc. They are not being unreasonable when they talk about watching your kids closely. They are doing their best to impart knowledge about protective measures each of us can take inside the home. Here’s why.
Photo Credit: Article Published May 13, 2014, by Tara Grieshop-Goodwin. “Kentucky Action on Human Trafficking Help Child Victims”. KYYouth.org
Carey is 12. She is active on a social media site and does not realize that she is being watched. Much like her friends, she takes many “selfies” and shares them online. She has no idea that undesirable adults are watching her very closely. She would not be labeled a “troubled” kid. Carey is a pre-teen trying to navigate a difficult age with peer pressures most adults today cannot fathom. She is just the girl next door.
Carey’s social media page draws attention, even though she is just a regular “this-is-what-preteens-do” sort of girl. They stalk her site to learn what type of manipulation will work on her. Pimps know that every kid wants something not presently within their reach, and most kids respond to flattery and compliments. That includes from strangers. Social media makes it easy to discover a child’s interests and gather quick information about them and their lives. Many responsible parents do not watch their preteens or teenagers 24 hours a day. We work. We have bills to pay. We have life going on separate from what is occurring at home. Things slip through the cracks. They just do.
Young Carey receives a message from a woman who compliments her on one of her photos. Conversations follow until meeting up is arranged. False promises are made. Carey is nervous of being secretive. The perpetrator says all the right things to make Carey feel safe, never mentioning the real purpose of luring this preteen away from the protection of her family.
By the time Carey arrives, it is too late. She realizes she was lied to and she will now be held against her will. Selling her for sex is now just a matter of physical threats, violence, drugs and eventually, brainwash. The pimp starts his well-formed process immediatly, including repeatedly raping her. This could occur within hours of her arrival. Her parents have no idea where she is or even where to start looking. Hours pass while they call friends and family, blow up Carey’s cell phone with texts and calls and kick themselves for working overtime that day, wondering how long she has been missing.
Of course, that is just one example of how “regular” kids living in suburbia can wind up in sex trafficking situations. The bigger problem (of epidemic proportions) is occurring 24 hours a day with kids on the streets and those who have difficult home lives.
Much of the information society can get focuses on the latter. Once you become involved in the system and become educated, you may be shocked to find how many girls-next-door (and boys) types are coerced into trafficking lives. A huge obstacle is the effectiveness these pimps have over children. It doesn’t take long for a child to submit. If they don’t, they know their sisters, brothers, parents and anyone else close to them will be dead. Or worse, they are threatened that if they do not comply, their siblings will be abducted and pulled into the child sex trade as well. Pimps also use a false sense of “love” to capture and keep these kids. That is why it is so important to ensure that our children know they are loved at home. Do not give them any reason to search for love and acceptance elsewhere. That in itself is a huge problem as the modern family structures continue to deteriorate.
Depending upon the situation and the kid, often they eventually do not want to go home and work toward recovery. That is not true of every victim. But many would not leave their pimps no matter what has been done to them. The sick, demented life they have been pulled into becomes their reality and they become, as we say, hooked. To make matters more complex, the business of human trafficking (to include using children for sex) is now tied in with gangs and the hugely profitable business of selling illegal drugs, including in-demand pharmaceuticals.
WHO IS BUYING?
As we all know, in order to have any successful business, someone has to buy whatever is being sold. In the case of trafficking children for sex, who on earth would support this pedophilia business?
It seems no one wants to talk about this part publicly. We certainly do not see it in headline news. Why? Because the purchasing of kids for sex is also going on right next door. Police officers, religious leaders, teachers, construction workers, retired military, active military, government officials and employees, gang members, the person pumping your gas…and every. single. profession. you. can. name.
Many resources on this topic exist. “Tricked” is a well-done documentary which is available on Netflex and other common streaming sites. The trailer on YouTube (parental discretion is advised) is located here: “Tricked” on YouTube Another full documentary worth viewing can be viewed on YouTube here: Exposing Child Sex Trafficking (again – view discretion advised). A myriad of solid information is available. The cost to you would be missing a regular program at home one evening. Better informed people = better world.
Among the top buyers are your neighbors. And mine. Even more shocking is the reality that our protectors – those who hold public office and public safety positions – are customers of child sex trafficking, too. Reason [insert number here] why we should not be teaching our children to trust people based on a uniform/badge they wear, or the higher-education degree they hold. People are people – good and bad. We must return to a state of common sense in teaching our kids, rather than putting that responsibility solely onto the system. Most system employees and public servants are amazing and hardworking individuals. Some are not. That is just the reality of living on this planet with other humans, especially in modern times where our government systems are overwhelmed to the point of breaking.
CONNECTED: PORNOGRAPHY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
We already know this information, but when it comes to couple time…who wants to admit they are participating in the sex trafficking trade in their own homes? I did not make the connection until I attended professional classes with those on the inside and front lines fighting sex trafficking. The truth was shocking to me. I am sure it would surprise many.
Porn includes images, videos, online postings of nudity and DVDs that you purchase within your legal rights. It is not exclusive to a low-sound quality, basement production that uses humans to satisfy the sexual needs of those who watch. According to Miriam-Webster online, pornography is: “movies, pictures, magazines, etc., that show or describe naked people or sex in a very open and direct way in order to cause sexual excitement.” Pornography is not just watching the act of sex on a DVD. The grown-up truth is, porn is any image that shows or describes naked people or sex… That means, the emails traded with buddies that contain nude or sexual images of young girls or boys. In today’s mainstream, one cannot watch a hamburger commercial without very blatant sexual imagery being used. That is the sad reality about our society’s appetite, so to speak.
Like it or not, legally-purchased pornography is often the product of children or others who became enslaved in human trafficking and illegal sex sales. Even if the porn “stars” are of age by the time they reach your bedroom DVD player, many were recruited using force, coercion and fraud. Often, the recruitment age was very young. That should disturb every decent man and woman to the point they refuse to participate.
Countless studies and reports have been published about the connection today between porn and sex trafficking. “According to Shared Hope International’s report on the demand for sex trafficking, pornography is the primary gateway to the purchase of humans for commercial sex.” Credit: Richard Justice Initiative (RJI), 9/7/11, Guest Author. More Information Here: http://richmondjusticeinitiative.com/the-connections-between-pornography-and-sex-trafficking/
The Shared Hope International full report on Domestic minor sex trafficking in VA can be found here: http://sharedhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/VirginiaRA.pdf Keep in mind, this is just one report in one state in one country. This is a growing, worldwide problem of epidemic proportions. As with any significant crime, the data we have available is based on what we know. Since “what we know” is monumental, then there is more that cannot be accounted for in these types of reports. The “hidden in plain sight” problem is always bigger than what we can see.
This is a difficult topic, at best. We cannot all get directly involved in saving these children. The way our criminal system is set up, it is difficult enough to even see a child in handcuffs (and leg cuffs) who is pulled out of a human trafficking sting. Yes, the victims are arrested treated as criminals when a bust is made. There are problems with returning them home. Issues exist with keeping them safe. To make the problem even more difficult, a high number willingly return to their pimps and a life of trafficking. There are many reasons for this reality.
What can be done?
To solve every aspect of this terrible problem is too much of a burden for anyone, including law enforcement at every level. It involves too much damage, too much corruption and too many kids. Honestly, it also involves people that would rather brutally kill all of us than to lose one, single dollar they earn selling these kids for sex. You cannot fix human beings that are that broken. Those involved on the front lines of these overwhelming investigations do a great job – the best they can. As with most things today, the system does not have a good structure to support the few who are assigned to these countless cases.
Make the world as you want it to be. Without buyers of any of these services, including the pornography that drives human (sex) trafficking, then the demand disappears. As with anything in our world, we decide. We can say, ENOUGH. We can educate one another. We can protect our neighborhoods from gangs and drugs and those who are tied in with human trafficking. If you are involved in anything that supports any type of business that feeds or is connected with the human trafficking business, simply stop participating.
No demand = no supply.
There are also many resources online intended to educate us on this serious criminal business. One such resource is the NHTRC (National Human Trafficking Resource Center), which contains an overview of human trafficking data state-by-state. Though any presented information cannot be comprehensive, taking one step toward awareness is much better than turning a blind eye.
Copyright 2015, Jana Brock and Inspiration Fanatic Publishing. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.