We tend to think of human trafficking as a foreign issue, not something that could happen here in our own back yards. But it’s a fast-growing problem in the United States, in every area, with no real defined demographic.
Tea shop in India ( A meeting place for the young.)
North Africa, Middle East (Kuwait), Thailand, North Korea, Belarus, and Mexico. Countries are known for sex trading. Corrupt governments, unstable political systems. State-run media, political and civil unrest, poverty, violence, and racism. Causes of sex-trafficking. Natural disasters, gender discrimination, personal problems, cultural norms, limited education, lack of economic opportunities, and poor laws that lead to prosecution. Reasons for female sex trading.
Sex trafficking is a growing problem in the USA. Every state, every city, and every community is affected. It’s not only the impoverished, drug addicted, strip dancer, or run away teenager. It could be your neighbor, your daughter’s friend, classmate, or a coworker. Sex trafficking is now worse than drug use among teenagers in the USA. Your daughter or son could be in danger.
Do your children have personal computers, iPhones, and iPads? Do they have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and other accounts? Do you know their passwords? Can you access their accounts? Your children are targeted by sex predators by their usage of apps.
An eight-year-old girl is playing the video game Minecraft. Her parents are at work. Minecraft has chat boxes that pop up when the game is being played. The following is a true account.
The girl thinks she’s playing with friends her age.
A chatbox opens
Do you have a boyfriend?
She replies: No, I don’t
The chatbox: Everyone playing this game has a boyfriend? You are the only one who doesn’t. Do you want a boyfriend?
She immediately answers: Yes, I do
The chatbox: You could be my girlfriend.
Without hesitation, the girl replies: OK
The chatbox: When is your birthday?
She continues to give him the information: December 7, 2009
The chatbox: What’s your address?
She types in her address with no hesitation
The chatbox: What’s your cup size?
She asks: What cup?
The chatbox: Your bra size?
She doesn’t know her bra size.
The chatbox asks her to take a selfie of herself. She does and sends it.
He asks her not to tell her parents about the conversation. He will send her a message later.
This is not a situation with a girl who knows about sex trafficking. She lives in a very nice upper-middle-class home. Her parents are working and she is home alone. Parents want to believe their children at home are safe. They aren’t. The Internet has invaded the privacy of all of us. A sex trafficker does not work the streets for victims. He/ She searches the Internet for better opportunities.
Children from the age of six have possession of an iPhone and a personal computer. They use their electronic devices out of the site of their parents. They use fake usernames and passwords to prove they are not on sites their parents have locked down. If there ever was a time when children were smarter than their parents, it is now. You can thank the invention of the Internet.
It is no longer the creepy man, sitting on a lawn chair, on the front porch of a dilapidated home, smoking a cigarette, missing most of his teeth, that is a sex predator. Sex predators scan the Internet for the games your children play, send emails and ask for personal information that many innocent children will offer.
Policemen, doctors, lawyers, fireman, educators, and church ministers. These are the clients. People you trust. People your children trust.
The eight-year-old girl goes to visit her friend’s house. She takes her laptop with her. She quickly greets her mother and the girls head upstairs to the bedroom. The mom is busy fixing dinner and believes the girls are safe in the room. They get on the Internet and continue the Minecraft game.
The chat box appears
Chatbox: Hello Julia! (not real name) Do you remember me? I chatted with you yesterday.
Julia: Yes, I remember
Chatbox: Let’s meet at the playground around the corner of your house.
Julia: Sure, I am going to bring my friend with me
Chatbox: See you in five minutes.
The man is sitting in front of her house which is three houses down from her friend’s house.
The girls tell the mom they will be back soon. The mom waves them off. They exit the front door and walk swiftly to the park. The chat box is sitting on a park bench. The girls walk over. Another man comes from behind a white Ford Escort. Snatches them by the arms. Julia is not able to get away. She is put into the car and the door locked. Her friend Anna puts up a pretty good fight. She bites the man’s arm. His arm begins to bleed. He lets go and she makes a run for home. She gets home and tells her mom to call the police. The police arrive and the chat box and Julia are gone. It took 1.5 years to find Julia. She was used as a prostitute forced to have sex with men three times her age. Locked away in a cheap, dirty, bug infested, hotel room surrounded by men who would not let her out. She was traumatized.
This story was told to a women’s group which is very involved with helping out in the community by a representative from the Starbright Foundation Inc.
The Starbright Foundation Inc. mission statement:
“Our mission is to rescue children and young adults from human sex trafficking and modern-day slavery, as well as other dangerous and abusive environments in association with local law enforcement and governing authorities.”
The women in the room had tears streaming down their cheeks. They were mothers, grandmothers, and aunts of young girls. Our neighborhood is middle to upper class. Snowbirds flock to our town in the Winter. Yes, there are predators in our town and yes, young girls are in danger.
Human trafficking robs victims of their basic human rights, and it occurs right under our noses. Many efforts have been focused in other regions of the world, but this is a major problem here at home.
How do we prevent this from happening?
Does an eight-year-old need a computer and an iPhone? Does a child need a Facebook page? Parents have the power to control the usage of these devices. Do children know the dangers the Internet can cause?
The Internet is a tool that everyone uses. Research, email, shopping, and reading the news. The responsibility of parents and teachers is to educate children about the dangers of using the Internet and iPhone apps. Don’t let your child use the Internet unless you know their passwords and usernames for each app they use.
Ask yourself this question: Does my child need access to the Internet for educational purposes? If the answer is no, don’t give them an iPhone or a computer.
Better to be safe than sorry! Protect your daughters!