When I was a teenager (maybe in the 14-15-years), my family went to the beach for vacation and spent an evening walking the Florida coast. In a search for seashells and maybe some autonomy, I walked several paces ahead of my parents and brothers. In fact, from the outside, it would hardly seem that I was anything but alone. A man came up to me, several years –maybe even a couple decades– older than I was and engaged me in conversation. I don’t recall his questions, but I didn’t feel comfortable with the exchange. The time wrapped up when he asked if I was by myself, and I pointed over my shoulder at my parents (who were keeping a close eye on me as well). He excused himself and I didn’t think much more about that whole experience until I read Charles Martin’s latest book this year:
And then I recalled that interaction and the creepy feelings I had from being in that man’s presence and I thought, “Oh my word, it’s like the book…I wonder if he was a trafficker.” The possibility is more probable than most people realize.
Several years ago when I started educating myself about the true darkness lurking in our own country, I shared my findings with several people in hopes of fighting against the sex trade industry. Sadly, one friend offered her compassion and anger against the evils of trafficking, but said simply, “Many people won’t do anything unless they feel like it impacts them.”
I’ve pondered that concept. Is that true? Would people–Christians especially–just say, “Well, that’s awful. I’m sorry it happens,” and then just go on their way and do nothing?
We fight against other atrocities–abortion comes to mind–and many of them don’t personally affect us or our children. Would we ignore the massive child-pornography industry, the accessibility of pedophilia to our own kids, the social media platforms that make our kids vulnerable? Most parents aware of these avenues carefully guard their kids’ internet time, which is important, because many of the trafficking situations start with social media stalking and grooming. If parents knew how accessible their kids are to traffickers, would their personal involvement change? Would their passion lead to more action if they knew, knew all that is really going on…?
*The US is the leading consumer of children pornography.
*46 children are taken and sold in America every DAY.
*Sex Trafficking earns traffickers nearly $100 billion every year.
*The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the US is 12 to 14 years old.
*Out of every 7 kids who get online, 1 of those will be solicited by a predator.
*Advocates report a growing trend of traffickers using online social media platforms to recruit.
“Child trafficking is not an issue that occurs only in poverty-stricken nations or underdeveloped areas of the world. It happens in our own backyard, to our neighbors and our children’s friends from school. It’s been shown that “at-risk youth” are particularly vulnerable targets for traffickers, but other children, simply put themselves at risk online seeking acceptance. No one is immune to becoming a victim of trafficking, if your child has access to the internet then they are at risk. Traffickers are experts at exploiting children’s vulnerabilities and can lure a child away without ever having to use force”(Erase Child Trafficking).
*California, Texas, and Florida are the top sex trafficking states, but trafficking happens in every state.
Shared Hope International fights against legislation in our country that fails to defend the victims and stands to enact stricter laws and consequences to pimps and johns. A third of the states in our country still prosecute the trafficked over the trafficker; we need to overthrow those laws. To find out more about what they do, check out this site: https://sharedhope.org/what-we-do/
Please help spread the word and bring awareness through volunteering, donating, or praying. We must fight to stop the evil. Look for local gatherings in your town (July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking).