*Disclaimer: this content is not appropriate for younger eyes.*
Imagine your daughter perched on the couch, laughing with friends while painting their fingernails and watching an Austen film. In the last year, she’s grown taller than you, but her knobby knees and questions let you know she’s still a child at heart. It wasn’t that long ago that you took her shopping for new underwear and taught her how to nurture and groom her ever-changing body. Last month she asked you about boys and how to get one to notice. You aren’t ready for that conversation; after all, she’s only 13. She doesn’t wear makeup, but her daddy let her have a cell phone because she was going to be home alone some afternoons and who has a landline anymore? She maintains a Facebook page and has 500 Instagram followers. Snapchat is awful, but you told her flat-out no on Tinder and Blendr–absolutely not okay. You’d heard too many things about those. Even so, you can only guess at her daily activity.
Since she turned 14, she started disappearing more and more into her phone; even when she’s with you, she’s not there. Hypnotized by the conversations and images she sees on her screen, she tells you that you have become the one that doesn’t understand or see. Ironic.
At night, you’d step up to her closed door and hear her flirtatious giggles on the phone. You asked her about it the next day, but she just said she was talking “to some boy,” so you wrongly assumed he was a kid from school, not an unknown poser on social media.
Then your worst nightmare became reality. Your daughter was supposed to come home with her friend, Emma, after ballet practice, but she never did. Emma’s mother told you that your daughter had said she wasn’t coming today because she had a stomach bug. You call her cell phone; it goes straight to voicemail. You search her room and find a note on her nightstand:
Mom, I know I’m young but I’ve decided to spend the weekend with my boyfriend.
I know you and Dad told me I couldn’t date till I’m 17, but this is different. He’s mature.
Chad really gets me. He understands what I want out of life and he’s so sweet. He’s going to
pick me up after school and will bring me home Sunday night–promise. You won’t have to
pay for anything. Apparently, he lives with his grandma and I’ll be good. You’ll see.
Someday you’ll meet him, but not now.
Not now. Not ever.
In 2016, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims. Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally (Polaris).
Today, a slave costs about $90 on average worldwide. (Girls are sold for an average of $400/hr in the US).
The FBI estimates that over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from nine to 19, with the average being age 11. Many victims are not just runaways or abandoned, but are from “good” families who are coerced by clever traffickers
The average age a teen enters the trade is 12-14 years of age.
Despite what some may believe, they are held against their will. Drugged, threatened, beaten, and brainwashed, they are trapped.
This horror is the third largest crime industry (under drugs and arms), but more lucrative in the long run because one person can be sold 15-30x a day multiple days over.
Traffickers make over $9 billion a year from selling sex slaves.
The average lifespan of a trafficked victim is 7 years.
Think you are safe in the Midwest? Think again:
[Sex trafficking victims in the United States. Although CA, FL, and NY are the worst, cities like Kansas City, Little Rock, and even Springfield host this evil]
Want to learn more?
Here are three films you should watch to help you understand the horror hiding in the shadows.
*Nefarious: Merchant of Souls (2011 American documentary). Although this film is not rated, the content is more gritty and graphic than the other two films I’ll mention. Men should watch it with caution.
*Priceless (2016 Drama starring Joel Smallbone, rated PG-13). No sex or scantily-clad women shown. (free on Amazon Prime)
*Caged No More (2016 Drama starring Alan Powell and Kevin Sorbo, rated PG-13). ($4 rental on Amazon Prime)
For a list of partners combating the slave industry, visit Priceless Partners or Shared Hope.org
- Film to help Prepare Teens (Shared Hope: Chosen)
- 15 Ways to Help Fight 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline line at 1-888-373-7888.
- Facts About the Sex Trade: Focus on the Family
- NightLight International headquarters in Missouri and even has a shop you can purchase items from to support (or a way to work/volunteer).
Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter,
Oh hold them back. Proverbs 24:11
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me. Psalm 18:16-17