As I head back to Southeast Asia to further explore the issue of global sex trafficking and what can be done to stop it, I’m aware that this isn’t just a faraway problem in a faraway land.
I’ve been chastised many times for engaging in the problem of sex trafficking overseas when it’s a problem “right here, in our own back yard.” (Why, yes, I do say that with a deep, redneck drawl and a camo shirt that says, ‘Merica!’) And they’re right. If we are serious about stopping this atrocity, it should be stopped everywhere. So, since I fly away on Monday morning and have about 600 things to get done beforehand, and none of those things is “write a blog post,” here I am, with a blog post about three ways to help put an end to sex trafficking in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Procrastination, for the win. Yeeeeah.
1. Know what you’re talking about.
… No, but like, really get your head around it.
Sex trafficking is a reality in the U.S., that is a fact, but it’s often misunderstood or misrepresented. If you want to have a role in ending it, you need to do your homework. You can’t know what you’re talking about unless you do some research, so do that. Do some research.
But if I may offer a few suggestions? Ignore the crazy statistics. Ignore the dramatic stories about how every year the Super Bowl transforms a city into the biggest sex-trafficking hub that’s ever happened anywhere in the entire universe. Ignore the endless lists of which city is “The #1 sex-trafficking city in America.” I’ve found that statistics are tricky little bastards. They’re easily manipulated. They lie.
So instead of filling your head with a bunch of Internet facts and figures that may or may not mean anything, find out what sex trafficking actually looks like in your town. Call the police station and ask if they have an anti-sex-trafficking unit and, if so, see if someone from the unit will talk to you about it. If sex trafficking is a problem in your area, learn who’s at risk to be trafficked and who’s doing the trafficking, and learn about who is driving the demand.
Research nonprofits near you who are working in this field; pull their tax info, review their track record, compare their claims against what you’ve learned from the police, and if you like what you see, give them your time and money.
Be informed about the place you live, and then get involved accordingly.
2. Become a foster parent.
I know, I know. You’re like, “Um. Easier said than done!” But when you do your research, you will probably learn that kids in the foster care system are incredibly susceptible to predatory adults.
We love to eat up stories about pretty little blond girls being lured away from their suburban youth group by a cute boy who gets her high and sells her to his greasy uncle for 40 bucks and a pack of cigarettes, forcing her into a life of drugs and prostitution. While this has actually happened to some degree, it’s very rare. Like, super rare.
But the girls and boys in our foster care system, kids who often feel unlovable, unsupported and disconnected, are a bluzillion times more likely to be drawn into a life of forced prostitution than a white kid in the suburbs. Yes. A BLUZILLION. … OK. Fine. I made that number up. (See what I mean about bad statistics?) But the part about foster kids being at higher risk of being trafficked is totes true. They’re transient, they’re scared and they’re undervalued as human beings, so they often run away and fall into the hands of the wrong people.
What we need are more healthy, stable, mercy-filled foster families to show these beautiful, broken kids their worth. Yes, it is the hardest thing you will ever do, but your love and your home could be the lifeline that keeps an at-risk child from being sold, used and terribly violated. Consider becoming a foster parent.