Sex Trafficking

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Every 30 seconds around the world, a child is sold into human trafficking rings, either for sex, forced labour, or organ harvesting

I wish I had something bright and sunny to write about for all of you today, but I don’t.

In today’s overly desensitized world, it often takes something especially tragic or heinous to gain our attention and raise our awareness of societal issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.

So this ain’t gonna be all sunshine and rainbows. This isn’t meant to be a light, feel-good story with a happy ending. It’s meant to raise awareness of what is quite possibly the darkest, ugliest part of humanity…

Child sex trafficking.

Some of you will stop reading here, and I wouldn’t hold it against you.

However, just because you don’t want to “see” it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Like the struggling couple that fails to acknowledge and talk about the problems in their marriage, or the stressed out CEO of the Corporation drowning in debt who doesn’t identify and plug the holes in the bucket, if attention isn’t given to the ever expanding issue of child sex trafficking, it’s never gonna go away.

In what has been called “the hidden figure of crime” it is estimated that as many as 12 million souls under the age of 18 are trapped in the dark world of child sex trafficking, generating nearly $50,000,000,000 (Billion) for predators, traffickers and pedophiles on an annual basis.

This makes the exploitation of children one of the largest and fastest growing crime syndicates in the world. Unfortunately, this is a problem that deserves our attention. We need to be talking about this.

So why aren’t we?

My personal opinion is that it’s so heinous and so ugly, that as a society, we choose to not pay attention to it – because if we don’t pay attention to it, then it “must not be happening.”

But it is. Every 30 seconds around the world, a child is sold into human trafficking rings, either for sex, forced labour, or organ harvesting.

  • 1 every 30 seconds.
  • That’s 120 children per hour.
  • Nearly 3,000 per twenty four hours.

That’s the equivalent of entire schools of kids disappearing into sex trafficking rings.

Every. Single. Day.

Let’s bring a little perspective to this…

The odds of winning the US Powerball Jackpot are 1 in 292 million. Earth has a population of roughly 650 million youth under the age of 18.

With estimates of 12 million being trapped in sex trafficking rings, that means a child under the age of 18 is over 5 million times more likely to be sold into sex trafficking than to win the US Powerball Jackpot.

In fact, over 20% of youth are targeted for sexually exploitive purposes. But it doesn’t happen the way you’re imagining it.

Gone are the days of a black van pulling up alongside a curb and 2 masked figures jumping out to forcefully throw their victim into the back. That tactic is too visible, too loud, too difficult for predators to control their targets, and traffickers prefer to work with a much larger platform to pluck their victims from:

The internet.

Human traffickers scour the vast ocean of kids found on the very gaming sites and social media platforms that we all use on a daily basis, searching for and then grooming those who innocently expose their vulnerabilities in order to draw them in with the promise of acceptance, understanding, love or physical goods.

Once they find an opening (someone  who is lonely, starved for attention, often home alone, struggling with their mental health or self worth, is displaying signs of depression or expressing a strong need/desire for physical goods) perpetrators will spend months building relationships and trust with their unsuspecting victims online, before eventually arranging a time to meet in person…and in these scenarios, almost 100% of kids go willingly. Without a struggle.

This is when the first sale of a human life occurs. And the money is good.

Convicted trafficker Ludwig “Tarzan” Fainberg was quoted as saying “you can buy a victim for $10,000 and make your money back in a week if (they) are pretty and young.”

Corroborating this, a study in the Netherlands found that on average, a single sex slave could earn their trafficker $250,000 a year…up to 20 times what he/she paid for their victim. But the cycle rarely ends with a victim being exploited by a single perpetrator. Provided the victim isn’t brutalized to the point of “ruining their beauty” traffickers are often able to resell their victims again in the future for a greater price because they’ve trained and conditioned them to comply to their demands and broken their spirit – saving future buyers the “hassle.”

Now don’t get me wrong…as a parent, I’m not saying that I think kids should be banned from online gaming and from having access to social media platforms. As adults, we’re just as addicted and despite being “aware” of the risks, we do some really stupid s**t on our phones too.

We use our real names on social media platforms, with actual pictures of our faces, “friending” and sharing information with people we’ve never met, eagerly filling out our bios with birth dates, home cities, sexual preferences and interests, posting everything we do while dropping pins everywhere we go.

We give our phones all kinds of permissions to access our cameras, galleries, microphones and contacts and post videos to platforms that get 5 billion video views PER DAY.

We do our banking on our phones, send money via etransfers and sign proposals and contracts with “private” information electronically. We fill out online forms with our email addresses and phone numbers in exchange for access to downloads and webinars (note the similarity in tactics to those being used by online predators – we’re willing to give complete strangers our personal information in exchange for something we want, or for a void to be filled.)

 Human traffickers scour the vast ocean of kids found on the very gaming sites and social media platforms that we all use on a daily basis

Our homes and house numbers are fully visible on Google Earth, and Google Maps will even do you the courtesy of sending you a record of all the retailers, cities, landmarks and countries you’ve visited over the past year, with a “thank you very much for letting us track your every movement so we can sell that information to further customize and enhance your experience for you, our beloved user.”

Uh huh.

So, is it any wonder how really awful people can figure out who you are and track down where you live in a real hurry?

But it’s not like anyone’s giving up their phones in the interest of personal safety. It’s not about that.

It’s about being aware of what’s out there, knowing how to identify potential dangers and then putting safeguards in place to protect ourselves.

Being aware of the potential signs of child sex trafficking (or any human trafficking, for that matter) gives us the tools to recognize red flags and empowers us to speak with conviction when something doesn’t feel right.

10 signs of a child sex trafficking victim

  1. Signs of violence, concussions, broken bones, burn marks, cuts, bruising
  2. Similar tattoos in the same location on two or more people, or a tattoo that looks like branding
  3. Dressed inappropriately for weather or age
  4. Evidence of malnutrition
  5. Signs of fear or depression
  6. Living in unsuitable conditions
  7. Holding large amounts of cash or slips of paper with dollar amounts and contact info
  8. Evidence of being controlled/loss of freedom
  9. Possession of multiple cell phones, hotel keys, false ID
  10. Hesitation to answer direct questions or looks to someone else to answer/speak for them

If you fear someone may be a victim of human trafficking (whether it’s someone you know, or a situation you observe) please contact a National Human Trafficking Hotline and be sure to follow me at instagram.com/squats4kidz for more information and additional tools and resources that can be used to keep you and your friends safe.

National Human Trafficking Hotlines:

CAN: (833) 900-1010

USA: (888) 373-7888