Suppose you and the dedicated volunteers you worked with spent two months working incredibly hard on putting together and advertising an important forum that affected teens and hardly anyone in the community bothered to show up?
Can you imagine it leaving you deflated, wondering what you did wrong, wondering why God didn’t better grace your efforts?
This is how I feel today, the questions I am asking, when only a handful of people came out to hear presentations on the dangers of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) that one of my ministries at Church sponsored last evening
The few dozen of the general public attended in response to the press releases that were written and published.
But the people I expected to care the most didn’t. No one from other church youth groups, law enforcement, the court system or the public schools administration could be bothered. Not after dozens and dozens of e-mails sent, personal letters sent, calls made and posters and fliers hand-delivered to Churches, schools, youth organizations, police departments.
Meanwhile, only one parent cared enough to bring her teen daughters to hear how they can recognize when they are being targeted by a trafficking predator.
So I am turning to my blog to share the facts so many couldn’t be bothered to hear last night:
- The domestic trafficking of minors is overtaking drug trafficking as the largest source of crime in our country. Drug sales are a one-time interaction. Teens can be trafficked for sex over and over and over again.
- In the Atlanta metro area, the average trafficker earns $33,000 per week. And Atlanta is among the top 14 cities for trafficking because of our international airport.
- 76 % of trafficked teens are first contacted via the Internet and other social media. In the age of direct messaging, Instagram, Facebook and Snap Chat, teen girls and boys are one click away from a predator.
- Once they are trafficked, the average life expectancy for a trafficked teen is a mere 7 years. The average age of a trafficked teen is between 14-15. That means that if trafficked, that child will likely die before reaching 22 years of age. The rest of their life time – gone, for the sake of adult pleasure and greed.
- Only 1% – or one in one hundred – domestic teens that are trafficked will ever be rescued from that life. That means 99 out of 100 parents will never know what happened to their children. They will never hug them again. They may never see them again, not even in death. Those children will simply be -vanished – into a life where they are used and abused over and over again. For adult pleasure. For adult greed.
For those thinking it can’t happen here – think again. It happens daily in our subdivisions that we think are so safe and secure. It happens on the Internet and other social media. It happens in the malls, even when you drop your teens in groups and you think they are safe in numbers. They aren’t. It happens.
Please take the time to educate yourself and any teens in your orbit about this issue. By the grace of God, it will be knowledge you need never use. But by the grace of God, a teen might be saved because he or she can spot the signs and safely avoid falling prey to seven years of sexual servitude before they die.
Please visit the websites for Georgia Cares, the state agency tasked with this issue, or Rescuing Hope, a non-profit dedicated to education on this subject.
Please take the time. It matters. More importantly, it may matter for a teen you dearly love.