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Hold your kids tight.

Behold your little ones (11-3-18)

“Behold your little ones”

How to start this blog without crying tears of sadness, frustration and unbelief? This topic shouldn’t even exist in our society. As I saw my girls getting ready for school, I couldn’t help but think of the many girls their age, and even younger, who are also getting ready, but for something monstrous and soul wrenching. My girls woke up from a soft, warm bed, turned off their alarm and kneeled down next to their beds to thank God for another day. They go to refresh themselves. They wash their faces, they brush their teeth. They walk into their closet to fight the dilemma of what to wear. What a hard decision that is. Should I wear the yellow top, will it match my shoes? Oh, the simple decisions of teenage girls.

For Linda, a 13-year-old teenager, things were different. One day, just like my girls, Linda woke up and got ready to start her day. Because of her home situation (fighting and drug abuse), Linda made a decision, she will be leaving her home tonight. She had met someone on social media, and this someone had convinced her that he was the answer to her prayers, and she will be the happiest girl in the world. Now Linda gets ready, but not to go to school like she used to. Now she gets ready to be sold as a sex slave. Her Facebook “boyfriend” sold her at truck stops along his normal route.

Linda is just one example of what is happening not only in our country, but in the world. Each day children and teenagers are becoming the victims of sex trafficking. According to the Our Rescue website by Tim Ballard, in America alone there are an estimated 10,000 children who are smuggled across the border to be sold as sex slaves each year. But there is no good estimate. After all, sex trafficking is an underground business. It is reported that there could be up to 2.4 million victims of sex trafficking in the United States alone (Roby, J., 2017). Doesn’t it

make your skin crawl to think that it could be your daughter, your son, nephews or nieces. It could be your neighbor’s children, it could be your kid’s friends.

Then, we can ask ourselves, who is buying children for sex? Or as they are known in the sex trafficking business, who are the “Johns”? Can someone truly have so much darkness in them to put children through such pain. Who has such a heart of stone, not to be touched by the innocence and fragility of their victim? You would be surprised to know the identities of many of them. It could be your co-worker, a police officer, lawyer, or even your child’s pediatrician, teacher or church leader (Cardenas, A., 2017).

Like Linda, many children find themselves living in homes where they suffer from physical, sexual, psychological and/or emotional abuse. Another characteristic is that parents abuse drugs and don’t give their children the attention and quality of life they need in order to grow healthy. It has been found in other research that poverty and family history of abuse are the top predictors that lead to sex trafficking in the US (Boyce, S., 2018). That is because children who live under these circumstances want a way out, and like Linda, running away seems like a better option.

I’m sure it won’t be surprising to know that the internet is another big problem when it comes to trying to fight sex trafficking. There are many websites that have become the place to visit for those “John’s” who are looking for their next victim. And it is also through social media that children are groomed every day, until they are trapped and turned into sex merchandise.

When I first heard about sex trafficking, I imagined adults being sold for sex, and it made me sick to imagine that a human being could be submitted to such cruelty. However, when I learned that children were also victims of such human atrocity, I knew I had to do my part to

protect God’s most vulnerable children. We need to bring awareness to how big this problem is, and how it keeps growing.

There are many individuals who are adding their grain of sand to make a difference and contribute to the “abolition” of sex trafficking. Let me tell you about my friend Trista. She is a mother of 4 wonderful children. She is a violin teacher, a violinist for a small theater in our community and the leader of a youth orchestra. She is a busy girl, but that didn’t stop her. Now she is also the organizer of a 5K walk/run event that takes place in December to bring awareness to this cause.

There are so many ways in which you can get involved and become a child advocate, a liberator, or an angel for those who have lost their freedom in the cruelest of ways. Talk to your local authorities. Find ways to get involved in your community, volunteer in programs directed to those who are at a higher risk of becoming victims. Write to your political leaders, ask for laws that can protect the rights of victims, and for stronger punishments for those who are found guilty of the crime. If you can’t organize a 5K walk/run, then bake some goodies and donate the money to an organization that helps children. There is no such thing as a small contribution when it comes to saving children from the monster of sex trafficking.

Now that you know, you also need to do something about it, because not doing anything is not an option.