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These numbers are gut-wrenching to me:
- The average age of children enslaved in the commercial sex industry in the United States is 13.
- The human trafficking black market generates between 5 to 9 billion dollars every year in the United States.
- There are an estimated 100,000 women and children each year who are entrapped in the commercial sex industry.
As shocking as those statistics are, we can never lose sight of this: each of those numbers represents a person – usually a woman or a young girl – who has been abused in one of the worst ways imaginable and had their way of life and their sense of identity ripped away from them.
Someone like “Lacy” (a pseudonym she’s using for her own protection and privacy). She was manipulated into the sex industry at the age of 13. The man who controlled her every move started her in strip clubs and eventually forced her into prostituting herself throughout the night.
He ruled her through fear and intimidation, isolating her from friends and telling her he’d harm members of her family if she refused to comply with his wishes.
That’s how the seedy underworld of traffickers operate. They brainwash their victims, redefine their lives, and tell them who they are, what they’re able to do, and who they’ll be in life.
Lacy’s story is difficult to hear, but it’s important for parents to understand. Lacy’s experience didn’t occur in some faraway land – safely removed from all of us. It happened right here in America.
Boys in her neighborhood who were involved with a local sex trafficker targeted Lacy. They befriended her and lured her to a party where she met an older boy. He studied her movements and began showing up in her life at Starbucks and other places. In a short time, she was under his complete control.
This issue makes my blood boil. I was stunned to learn that my own state of Colorado received a D grade regarding its prevention of human trafficking. In fact, all four states along the Interstate 25 corridor – New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana – received a D or an F grade, mostly because of the trucking industry. In fact, it’ll probably come as no surprise that sex trafficking is a common problem along nearly all other interstates as well.
But when I heard of the problem Colorado faced, I thought, “I live here. I’m not going to stand for that.”
As a result of that decision, a number of us partnered together – both Republicans and Democrats – to pass laws here in Colorado. And you know what? We went from a D grade up to a B. I’m proud to say that this has been a good success story on behalf of children here in Colorado.
But we still have a lot of work to do throughout our country to bring this scourge to a fitting end.
That’s why we’ve invited “Lacy” to be with us in our studios for the next couple of programs to share her story.
Also joining us is Linda Smith, a woman who has devoted the past 17 years of her life to rescuing women and children who are in the bondage of sexual slavery. She’s a tireless legal advocate on behalf of victims. Before founding Shared Hope International, she served as a congresswoman in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999.
This is a sobering discussion for sure, but there is hope. Still, before we can appreciate the warmth of the light, we often have to understand just how bone-chilling cold the darkness can be.
That’s why I hope you’ll stick with us and really listen to what we’re talking about. These programs are hard, but this information is important and needs to be heard. We hope to open your eyes to the reality of modern-day slavery and trafficking happening right here in our own country, in our own backyard, really.
We can do something to protect our kids, and we hope to empower and encourage you to join in the fight as an advocate for children, young girls, and women who desperately need our help.
Will you be their voice?
This two-day program isn’t graphic, but it’s still not suitable for younger children, so please use your discretion.
You can join us on your local radio station, or tune in anytime online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
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