Rick and I attended the International Conference on Missions not long ago, and sat in on every session to do with sex trafficking. A friend in ministry told me the crime is increasing in Northern California, and we wanted to find out what we can do to stop it. Frankly, we were shocked to find out how rampant this crime has become and how cunning the predators are.
Warning: This blog is not for the faint-hearted, but forewarned is forearmed.
What is happening?
Girls between the ages of 12 – 14 are primary targets for sex traffickers. Predators (gangs and cartels) don’t come after them openly. They use a “bottom bitch”; a girl who is usually attractive and in her teens and connected to the predator. The BB will go into a mall and strike up a conversation with a girl, then begin an on-line friendship. Facebook is a primary tool. Girls love to chat and give out personal information. A predator is after a child’s secrets and many are shared on-line. So the predator has easy access to the pre-and-early teen girl’s inner thoughts, interests, schedule, friends, family problems, etc. Parents check now and then, but a predator is actively watching and doing “finesse grooming”. They seek out girls who are from broken homes or in a crisis situation (a recent move, death in the family, argument with parents or siblings, rebelling against house rules, etc.) waiting for an opportunity to take the child captive.
When the predator sees an opportunity, the “friend” (BB) invites the girl somewhere. “I’m sorry your folks are on your case. Why don’t you come chill at my house for a while?” If the girl shows up, it may be the last time the family ever sees her. She will be broken immediately (raped and traumatized), moved out of the area within 24 hours, and put to work as a prostitute. Some of these children are forced to have sex with more than 20 men a day. This is BIG business for the Mexican cartels who are actively searching for new girls (products) to stock their business. They do email blasts to customers (found through on-line porn sites) and bring a girl into an area for 24-48 hours. Appointments are made ahead of time.
The expected lifespan of a trafficked child is 6 years. They die of AIDS, hepatitis, botched abortions, abuse and sometimes murder. Those that are rescued (few escape) often suffer worse PTSD than war veterans. Facilities to help rescued victims are few and far between, yet 1.7 million children go missing in the U.S.A. each year! How many of those are sex trafficked victims? A low estimate is 170,000.
This is not just happening to girls. Twenty-thirty percent of the sex trafficked children are boys, whom they control with drugs. They imprison the girls, literally keeping them locked up.
How is this possible?
– Naïve teens; limited experience, peer pressure, rejection of authority figures (parents)
– Uninformed parents
– 24/7 access to technology (Facebook; internet)
– Disarming recruitment methods (contacting children in malls)
– Predators on cyberspace
– Uninformed churches and civic organizations
– Uninformed police forces
– At risk families
– Organized crime ($32 BILLION industry worldwide; $8 BILLION in the U.S.A. – Sex Trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the country)
– Casual sex is the norm
– Gangs selling “territory” to cartels looking for new “product” for their customers (MS13 is the first transnational gang dealing in sex trafficking.)
What can we do?
– Get involved. Educate your children. If they have “new friends” on Facebook whom you don’t know, find out who they are. Tell your children the truth about what is happening so they (hopefully) will not put themselves in danger – and can warn their friends to be cautious as well.
– An organization well represented at the ICOM was Million Kids, in Riverside, California. Check out the www.millionkids.org website. They have a DVD available for $7: The Love Trap Program: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Sex Trafficking. (I bought a bunch!) Give them to youth pastors, school principals, family and friends with children.
– I highly recommend reading NOT FOR SALE by David Batstone. He provides firsthand information, and tells inspiring stories of abolitionists at work around the world. The last part of the book lists many ways that we can get involved and be part of a core of “smart activists” to stop human trafficking. Also, check out the www.NotForSaleCampaign.org website.
– Look for ministries in your hometown that are involved, and ask how you can help.
– Be a prayer warrior.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”
Quote attributed to Edmund Burke/italicized words added