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Child Sex Trafficking in America
By on October 20th, 2010

Child Sex Trafficking in America

As Americans when we hear the words “sex trafficking” we usually think of places overseas in third-world countries or nations with corrupt governments. We don’t usually think closer to home – Americans trafficked by Americans. Many of the children sold into sex slavery come from broken families or the foster care system. Some of these are the young girls you may have even seen late at night when you come home from work or a social event. You may have seen them in short dresses or spiked heels and turn your head to look away, trying not to think the worst. Sometimes it’s easier to think that they want to be doing this or they wouldn’t be out there. Others are trapped and hidden away and you don’t see them at all.

Often times they are looking for an escape or for the one thing they say they didn’t find at home, love.

Mary was 12 years old when she first fell in love. It was his “swagger” that attracted her, she recalled, laughing.

The pre-teen, who lost her mother at a very young age and only saw her father on holidays, said she desperately craved a father figure. All she ever wanted was to be loved, she said, and she thought she found that in the man who patrolled up and down her street wooing her.

“I just fell into his arms,” said Mary. One day, the man invited Mary to go on a drive with him. She did, and she never returned home.

For four years, Mary was forced into child prostitution with four different pimps. She was taken from city to city, forced to have sex with random men against her will. She rarely got to keep any of the $1,500 she made every day. Instead, she was abused mentally and physically by both her pimps and other girls who he housed.

Read Mary’s whole story here.

There are an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children in forced prostitution in the U.S.
In addition, 293,000 American youth are currently at risk of becoming victims of forced prostitution. The majority of American victims of forced prostitution tend to be runaway or thrown away children who live on the streets. These children generally come from homes where they have been abused or from families that have abandoned them.

The average age of a child entering forced prostitution is 12 years old although there have been cases of girls as young as 9 years old. Other children are recruited through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers. Once these children become involved in forced prostitution they are often forced to travel far from their homes and as a result are isolated from their friends and family. The lifestyle of these kids revolve around violence, forced drug use and constant threats.

Child sex trafficking is on the rise and the traffickers know what they are doing. With the release of the 170-page “Manual on How to Molest Children”, traffickers are becoming pros at saying the right things and finding the children at their most vulnerable times. The manual goes into disgusting detail about where and how to find potential victims and even goes into a topic on how to convince a victimized child not to tell his or her parents.

We cannot continue to rely only on law enforcement to take care of these atrocities. Nor can we push off the crisis of neglected, abused or abandoned children to the government. We must get involved. We must begin to pray consistently and persistently for God to bring justice on behalf of these children. We must begin to sound the alarm and raise awareness and get involved in helping children in whatever ways we can. These children are trapped and if we do not do something who will?

How Do I Identify a Victim of Human Trafficking?

A victim:

  • Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore a truant
  • Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis
  • Chronically runs away from home
  • Makes references to frequent travel to other cities
  • Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression, or fear
  • Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents
  • Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
  • Shows signs of drug addiction

Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include:

  • Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items)
  • Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms
  • Has a “boyfriend” who is noticeably older (10+ years)
  • Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled “fast” by peers

Here are several ways you can help end child trafficking:

1. Start/Join a Prayer Meeting

Find or start a prayer meeting in your area. If you are in Kansas City join in with Orphan Justice Center on Friday’s at 6am at IHOP-KC Prayer Room or with Exodus Cry on Mondays at 8pm. You can also join with us on the webstream by clicking here.

2. Raise Awareness through twitter, facebook, blogs, videos…

You may use social media to connect with friends or check out the latest news from the people you like. However, predators are using these tools as a means to recruit broken and lonely children into the sex industry. Use your influence to write a blog that shifts the mindsets of a generation. Create a video that tells a story that goes viral and sheds light on this issue like no one else can. Get involved in a Stop Child Trafficking Now Walk in your city

3. Get Training and Start Helping Children

Your city probably has a way to begin helping children. Do some research and find out who in your area is focused on this issue and join with them. If you are in Kansas City you can apply for our Justice Fellowship training program.

4. Get Involved in Foster Care / Adoption

Married couples and singles can get involved with foster care or adoption. The children in foster care are the most vulnerable to traffickers. They need loving families that are aware of this issue and willing to step in and say I’ll do what it takes to care for a child. Connect with the department of children and families in your city and find out when the next training is. If you are in Kansas City you can join with us at our next Foster Care training.

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