When I grow up, do I want to be a modern day slave?

There is a terrible truth about human trafficking and to understand just how bad it is we must make ourselves uncomfortable and hear the truth. If you want to be part of the solution, read on…

I heard the truth at a Human Trafficking Workshop that was put on by the founder of 4HerND, Windie Lazenko, last month. Windie was a former victim of human trafficking herself and now she is on a mission to free other victims. She came to North Dakota because she heard of the human trafficking problem we have. Yes, in our “North Dakota Nice” state!

One of the many facts which blew my mind was the average age for children to be drawn into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old. Can you believe that? How do these kids start THIS at that age? There are a number of children that are actually abducted, but a lot of these kids are taken by seduction and coercion.

How often have you had a misunderstanding with your child that they got so angered they said they were running away? Of those who actually do run away, a human trafficker will approach two out of three within 72 hours!

Do the traffickers come up and say, “Hey! How would you like to be a prostitute for me and I will abuse and beat you for my financial gain? Also, I will steal your identity, mentally and physically harm you, and take you to a new location as my slave. Forget ever seeing your family again and give up your dream of being a wife, husband or having any children.”

The “Pimp” or “Daddy” will approach these children in a very different way and they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are masters at conniving and coercion and this is what you need to talk with your children about.

They are always on the look out for anyone that is walking alone or shopping alone and who are easily flattered by a nice compliment. They usually start a conversation, hoping to become a friend. Then the gifts start coming and all of the wonderful meals and fun times will follow. This person is the best friend a girl or boy could ever have and of course their “parents don’t understand them” so they get closer to this person.

Once the “Friend” has gained their trust, they leave with this child, take all of their ID’s and phone, and their nice friend side turns to evil friend. You can only imagine what comes after that.

A book Windie highly recommended that I read (graphic, however) is Renting Lacy- A Story of America’s Prostituted Children by Linda Smith. This book was somber and most of it was absolutely horrific, but it offered a real life account of what happens in this sick industry. The following fact is cited in the book: the U.S. Department of Justice reports: 795,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.

I learned from the book that there is a real need for very young girls and boys in this multi-billion dollar industry and after 9-11 it is harder to get foreign girls into the country so they are fueling this market with our children.

Here is a local story this week of one North Dakota man that pleaded guilty to trying to buy two young girls from a cash strapped mother. Crimes like this are more prevalent than any of us want to believe. If you are one of the many people that follow our work from across the country then please check into your local agency to stop human trafficking.

Part of being our best selves is having the guts to not avert our eyes to this problem. You may feel it is not your problem to be concerned with, but for us and our children to be safer we must confront what scares us, what disappoints us and what threatens us. Lets make change happen! Educate your children and your peers about the tragic industry that is human trafficking, because that one person who’s awareness you raise may just know someone who is about to be taken down that long dark tunnel…


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