Most of America has been in a complete outrage the last few weeks about the replacement refs in the NFL. But look what happened . . . the outcry resulted in a deal being made and the referee drama should finally be over.
So now what America? What will be the new thing to fan the fires of our outrage? (Because we all know that there has to be something we're all hollering about!)
I've got an idea . . . Sex Trafficking.
Can we get some outrage going on about the global crisis of human sex trafficking? And I'm not just talking about what many think goes on only overseas. I'm talking about here in the US, in your town, down the street, right next door.
If your only frame of reference to trafficking is the movie Taken, then you might think this is a far away threat. Not so. Take a minute to read this article from USA Today. Even if you think you know, please still read it. It reveals the shocking reality that this evil is all around us and is only getting bigger.
Trafficking statistics are hard to come by, but let me give you a few that will make your heart drop to the floor.
- Human trafficking is the 2nd largest criminal industry in the world and will probably surpass the drug industry soon. Why? Because you can sell drugs once, but you can sell a person over and over and over again.
- Every year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.
- US citizens account for 25% of sex tourists worldwide. The #1 destination for sex tourism is the United States.
- 55% of child pornography originates from the US. Pornography is a causal factor for trafficking.
- Around 80% of human trafficking victims are women and girls and up to 50% are minors.
- The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 years old. TWELVE.
- A child/teenager who runs away or is left on the streets will be approached within 48 hours to be lured into prostitution. (What if the Church could get to them within 24?)
- Atlanta is a major hub for trafficking with an estimated 500 minor girls trafficked there each month. The average age of these girls is 14. The average life expectancy after being trafficked is 7 years. Young girls dead by 21 and this is happening right where we live. 7200 men are served by these girls each month. Men can order a girl online, fly to ATL, have sex with a child, and be back home in time for dinner with their family. Unimaginable, but happening every day.
This is worth outrage. There are at minimum 100,000 children trafficked in the US each year and most would say that number is much too low for what is the reality in our nation.
President Obama spoke strong this week about trafficking and new initiatives to address this crisis. Praise God that it is definitely gaining more attention because these women children need people to see them, to fight for them, to rescue them, and to help them heal.
Outraged? Here are a few things you can do . . .
- Memorize this number. 1.888.3737.888. This is the phone number to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. If you suspect that someone is being trafficked, this is who you call. They will connect you to local resources and will know the best way to get that person help. You can pass this number on discreetly to someone you fear is in danger so they have a way to get help.
- Get educated about signs of trafficking. Are they always accompanied by a controlling person? Do they have lack of control over money, documents, schedule? Are they unable to come and go freely? Do they have to ask permission to eat, sleep, leave? Are they being threatened? Do they show signs of abuse, depression, anxiety, fear?
- Be aware in your everyday life. I told Ava just yesterday that if she ever got lost from me that she should find a mommy with little kids to ask for help. Why? Because mommies (at least most) love kids and will get all "Mama Bear" to protect a child, even one who isn't their own. So let's have our "Mama Bear" eyes and ears on when we are out and about. Look for these signs. Look deeper. Notice children at the park, at school, at the airport, at the bus station. Let's notice and take action before they are quickly lured away.
- We don't want to be afraid of our own shadow (or teach our kids to be), but there is just no way around the fact that you can't trust people like you used to. Be overly cautious about your kids playing at a friend's house, going to a sleepover, even hanging out at a public place. Just like that article mentioned, pimps and traffickers are smart . . . they go where they have easy access to vulnerable kids. They don't always look big and scary, in fact most often they will be very seductive and say the things that a lonely child is longing to hear. I heard of a young girl who wanted to nanny in New York. Her parents even skyped with the family before she moved up there. As soon as she got to the house she realized it was a scam, but it was too late. She was trafficked around the US for years before she was able to escape. But she wasn't the same . . . even her freedom couldn't undo the trauma to her body, mind, and heart. Maybe her parents could have done more, but it just shows you the elaborate schemes and just how far traffickers will go to get a girl to sell.
- Get informed. Here are a few websites with great education about trafficking as well as ways that you can practically support the fight against trafficking.
- Get involved. Find out if there are ministries or projects in your city that are fighting trafficking and jump right in. For the last 3 years, I've been a part of a ministry reaching out to the men and women in the sex industry specifically on Bourbon Street. We are currently planning our efforts to combat trafficking during the three weeks when New Orleans will host the Super Bowl AND Mardi Gras. There will be thousands of girls brought into the city for these events and we want to be ready to put help within reach of as many girls as possible. Groups like ours can always use more help . . . prayers, financial, or hands-on.
- Pray. This is much more than just a fight against pimps. This is a spiritual battle that is raging and our greatest stance is to be on our knees before our God and Savior.
The NFL is back in business. Outrage in full force = mission accomplished.
So now let's get outraged about trafficking. Let's show these pimps that we will not stand for this evil any longer. Let's show these women and children that they deserve more outrage than a halftime score.
"O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more."