Only Twelve Years Old

                                            Only Twelve Years Old

Many of us have daughters, sons, grandsons and granddaughters who are stepping into puberty, a time of glorious and sometimes trying extremes: emotions accelerate, hormones surge, growth goes wild, and independent dreams flourish.  We work hard to nurture, mentor and protect these precious kids—a lifetime of work on our parts.

But there are thousands of other kids, child victims of life’s circumstances, children who fall into the hands of dangerous criminals, children who have no hope by the time they reach puberty. The conditions in which these children live are hard subjects to think about and brutal issues to address, but we must consider what happens to a child who end up as a pimp’s captive when she or he has just turned twelve.  Where do these children come from?

Let’s explore this second issue first. Children who fall prey to sex traffickers are frequently kids our society labels “throw away”, and that in itself is a human tragedy with unlimited social and economic consequences for the United States. We may think that child sex trafficking only happens in countries like Thailand and India, where it certainly does, but this year in the US, anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 girls and boys will be forced into the sex trade, beaten and coerced, brainwashed and cowered, most of them between the ages of twelve and fourteen.

Pimps know how to target sideline kids who have no one to lean on and no one to provide a safe environment. They profile them, if you like: foster children; runaways; homeless; abused at home and craving someone who will love them; juvenile offenders with no prospects for a productive life.  It is not difficult to figure out that those teenagers who have supportive families, success at school, and active social/sports lives will not be vulnerable to a pimp’s lure.

After the pimp, man or woman, entices the child, perhaps by buying the kid a meal, taking them to a movie and getting new clothes, they convince her to run away and tell no one. Then, a living hell begins. In most cases the child is raped multiple times by the pimp and his or her friends. If she resists the attacks, fierce beatings occur where other trafficked kids are forced to watch, a bitter warning that they must stay in line. The beatings and belittling persist until the child believes she is a slave. Terror and despair are the hallmarks of their little lives.

The challenge for us is to become aware of the signs of a trafficked child and to report the crime to designated authorities. These children can be anywhere: malls, street corners, outside bars or cantinas, near hotels, in hotels, in airports, on airplanes and in other public places. If our awareness can save one child from enduring this horrendous fate, we have put a cog in the wheel of a heinous crime. And each of us has probably seen at least one of these kids in recent weeks. They are terrified to speak or to call out for help, but their souls are asking, Do you see me? Please see me!

Some of the following information on how to recognize trafficked kid was taken from The US Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools website.

How Do I Identify a Victim of Human Trafficking? *

A victim:

  • Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore a truant
  • Is hanging around a mall or other public places described above
  • Is unable to attend school on a regular basis
  • Chronically runs away from home
  • Makes references to frequent travel to other cities
  • Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma,
  • Is withdrawn, depressed, fearful
  • Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents
  • Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
  • Shows signs of drug addiction

Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include:

  • Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items)
  • Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms
  • Has a “boyfriend” who is noticeably older (10+ years)
  • Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled “fast” by peers

If the situation is an emergency, report to local law enforcement immediately.

Other numbers to call are the Department of Justice at 1-888-428-7581, and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 or 866-347-2423, 24 hours a day.

If you as a reader of my blog have any information or experiences to share, please contact me through my website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only Twelve Years Old

 

Many of us have daughters, sons, grandsons and granddaughters who are stepping into puberty, a time of glorious and sometimes trying extremes: emotions accelerate, hormones surge, growth goes wild, and independent dreams flourish.  We work hard to nurture, mentor and protect these precious kids—a lifetime of work on our parts.

 

But there are thousands of other kids, child victims of life’s circumstances, children who fall into the hands of dangerous criminals, children who have no hope by the time they reach puberty. The conditions in which these children live are hard subjects to think about and brutal issues to address, but we must consider what happens to a child who end up as a pimp’s captive when she or he has just turned twelve.  Where do these children come from?

 

Let’s explore this second issue first. Children who fall prey to sex traffickers are frequently kids our society labels “throw away”, and that in itself is a human tragedy with unlimited social and economic consequences for the United States. We may think that child sex trafficking only happens in countries like Thailand and India, where it certainly does, but this year in the US, anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 girls and boys will be forced into the sex trade, beaten and coerced, brainwashed and cowered, most of them between the ages of twelve and fourteen.

 

Pimps know how to target sideline kids who have no one to lean on and no one to provide a safe environment. They profile them, if you like: foster children; runaways; homeless; abused at home and craving someone who will love them; juvenile offenders with no prospects for a productive life.  It is not difficult to figure out that those teenagers who have supportive families, success at school, and active social/sports lives will not be vulnerable to a pimp’s lure.

 

After the pimp, man or woman, entices the child, perhaps by buying the kid a meal, taking them to a movie and getting new clothes, they convince her to run away and tell no one. Then, a living hell begins. In most cases the child is raped multiple times by the pimp and his or her friends. If she resists the attacks, fierce beatings occur where other trafficked kids are forced to watch, a bitter warning that they must stay in line. The beatings and belittling persist until the child believes she is a slave. Terror and despair are the hallmarks of their little lives.

 

The challenge for us is to become aware of the signs of a trafficked child and to report the crime to designated authorities. These children can be anywhere: malls, street corners, outside bars or cantinas, near hotels, in hotels, in airports, on airplanes and in other public places. If our awareness can save one child from enduring this horrendous fate, we have put a cog in the wheel of a heinous crime. And each of us has probably seen at least one of these kids in recent weeks. They are terrified to speak or to call out for help, but their souls are asking, Do you see me? Please see me!

Some of the following information on how to recognize trafficked kid was taken from The US Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools website.

 

 

How Do I Identify a Victim of Human Trafficking? *

A victim:

  • Has unexplained absences from school for a period of time, and is therefore a truant
  • Is hanging around a mall or other public places described above
  • Is unable to attend school on a regular basis
  • Chronically runs away from home
  • Makes references to frequent travel to other cities
  • Exhibits bruises or other physical trauma,
  • Is withdrawn, depressed, fearful
  • Lacks control over her or his schedule or identification documents
  • Is hungry-malnourished or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
  • Shows signs of drug addiction

Additional signs that may indicate sex-related trafficking include:

  • Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, behavior, or material possessions (e.g., has expensive items)
  • Makes references to sexual situations that are beyond age-specific norms
  • Has a “boyfriend” who is noticeably older (10+ years)
  • Makes references to terminology of the commercial sex industry that are beyond age specific norms; engages in promiscuous behavior and may be labeled “fast” by peers

 

If the situation is an emergency, report to local law enforcement immediately.

 

Other numbers to call are the Department of Justice at 1-888-428-7581, and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888 or 866-347-2423, 24 hours a day.

 

If you as a reader of my blog have any information or experiences to share, please contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only Twelve Years Old