Every year back to school season begins with the same fresh fervor. Children are outfitted with a new backpack, lunch box, crayons, binders, pencils, clothes and shoes. They anxiously wait to learn the name of their new teacher and cross their little fingers that their best friend will be in their class. But as every parent begins to prepare their child for another school year, there is one thing they often don’t prepare their child for: identifying and standing up against traffickers.
If you know a child, this article is for you.
“It will never happen to my child.”
This same thought that lurks in the minds of those parents who believe their child is immune to trafficking because of good parenting, income, social status, the neighborhood they live in or their child’s maturity and good decision making abilities is the same phrase the parents of the trafficked child often laments to us.
The truth is pimps target our children at the place they spend over 1,200 hours a year: their school.
“San Diego Police Detective James Hunter said…pimps recruit online, at schools, malls and bus stands.” – KPBS
“Federal prosecutors on Thursday accused eight people of recruiting underage girls from Inland Empire schools for prostitution.” –Los Angeles Times
“The leader of a Fairfax County gang accused of running a prostitution ring has been indicted by a grand jury. A federal grand jury has indicted 26-year-old Justin Strom of Lorton, also known as “J-Dirt”, who is accused of running a sex trafficking operation. Strom recruited girls at school, in the mall or on the Metro, according to Ronald Hosko, the FBI agent who took the lead on the case. “They had one girl who has a 3.9 GPA,” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said after the indictment. “Her parents are what most people would call very well-to-do in a good high school in Fairfax, recruited though a partner of the gang, in the school.” – WAMU, NPR
“It’s the most chilling of hunting grounds. Sex traffickers who coerce kids into prostitution are using the city’s schoolyards and playgrounds as recruiting offices. It’s such a troubling problem that Brooklyn prosecutors have started training educators on how to spot kids in peril on their turf. ‘It happens enough that I can say it happens a bunch,’ Assistant District Attorney Lauren Hersh told the Daily News. “Many girls are forced to go to middle school playgrounds and recruit other young girls.” Hersh, who runs a pioneering sex-trafficking unit for the DA’s office, has held several workshops and hopes to expand into as many schools as possible. Last fall, pimp Abking Wilcox admitted turning girls as young as 15 into being sex slaves and making them recruit others in Bushwick and Brownsville middle schools. Wilcox, who pleaded guilty in Brooklyn Criminal Court to three counts of sex trafficking, called it his ‘team.’ “ – New York Daily News
The best way to prepare your child is to teach them about the dangers they could face. Shared Hope has created a resource to make the conversation easy. In our new 20-minute documentary titled Chosen, two teen girls tell about their real experiences of being tricked into trafficking. The documentary contains mature subject matter but no graphic content, making it appropriate for teens 13 years and older. Additionally, the package includes presentation resources like discussion starters, ideas to take action, handouts and presentation ideas.
Help us reach America’s children with this important news by ordering a copy for your child or grandchild’s school, sports team, or youth club.