Tuesday, November 16, 2010
It's been a week now since my good friend and I went to an all day seminar in downtown Tulsa on Human Trafficking! Now, how did an innocent little granny like me get involved in such a thing, you ask? Well, I'm not sure. Perhaps it was a suggestion from an older wiser friend who whispered, "you need to know about Human Trafficking."
The attendees included ICE agents, FBI folks, policemen, DHS workers and a scattering of other officials. My friend and I were probably the only Granny's there. When asked what agency we represented we wrote "interested citizen." The purpose was to inform these highly trained public servants of a new national phenomena. Our purpose was simply to discover the meaning of the words!
It was information overload! The statistics shot out through the room like bullets.
We learned that OK is #1 in child abuse, #2 in teen pregnancy, #3 in divorce and #4 in women murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. The Interstate system through the middle of the country has created a crossroad of illegal interstate people moving.
The geography of OK, AR, and KN is now defined as the epicenter of the action.
There is foreign national labor trafficking, foreign national sex trafficking (700K a year) and U.S. citizen sex trafficking. In the US we have domestic servitude, commercial sex, and child sex all going on under the radar. At truck stops in OK thousands of young women are exchanged and transported from state to state. If there are 50 trucks in a lot, 46 will be involved in some way!
We've taught our children "stranger danger" but not "relationship danger." 95% of violations will occur with people children already KNOW!
The red flags that officers are looking for are: single parent homes, education level, and FAITH-BASED families. Evidently Christians do not do a good job preparing their children to be "street smart," putting more emphasis on being kind, turning the other cheek, loyalty, and giving people the benefit of the doubt when judging character. The Bible Belt is a prime recruitment area for unsuspecting teenage girls. Usually all it takes is a fuss with mom before daughter lands in the clutches of a predator.
When pictures are sold online it becomes a trafficking offense. 20% of Internet porn is child porn. 99% of viewers are men, 91% are white.
What to look for? Derogatory tattoos, gang tattoos, (pimps like to brand their new property) difficulties with school friends, runaways or throwaways, girls living with boyfriends, cutting, burning, depression, mood swings, failing grades at school, aggressive survival skills, masters of manipulation.
There is even an "underground railroad" in place to provide safe harbors in order for girls to escape.
Two young women told their horrific true stories of how they were seduced into a way of life they never knew even existed. Their escape took YEARS!
There is SO much more. Our culture is "sexed" to death and being a child in the US is a dangerous place to be.
Sounds like a foreign country, doesn't it? It all adds up to modern slavery. And history will one day ask the question again, "where was the church when this was happening right under her eyes."
We've come a long way baby! And our babies are the victims. I had to come home, jump in the bed, cover up my head and wait for morning!
There are several opportunities to become involved in this tragedy. We're investigating. Many social service and religious agencies around the state are jumping into the fray to help is some way. Once informed it's impossible to return to ignorance.
This is just chapter one of a long book! There is more to come as we get involved.
I'm wondering if we have the emotional strength.