In the number of years that I’ve worked on many of these cases in the United States, I’ve watched law enforcement change dramatically. They’re realizing that victims of prostitution are just somebody’s daughter, son, mom, cousin, sister or brother. And they’re starting to understand that, and they’re starting to change how they work with girls like Lacy.
Lacy was her street name, forced upon her by the pimp who controlled her. Her given name was Stephanie, and she has police in her life now that she loves. They’re just great. In particular, one who was involved in her rescue has come cross-country to see her and visits her any time he’s in the area. So, there are some really good law enforcement officers. But I think their thinking reflects society. If I thought some girls were just breaking the law and some people are just buyers, then it would never have affected me ten years ago. Our culture is this way, so why would they think any differently? But in those many years ago. The system is changing, but there’s still a certain number of law enforcement, judges, prosecutors that do not see buying or selling another person for sex as a serious crime. And so, we have a long way to go. We have changed the laws in a lot of states and many of you those reading this have been involved in supporting that advocacy. It takes time and energy, and many voices to effect changing the laws.
But if the heart of our society doesn’t change and see victims instead of perpetrators, then the law will not be applied, because they only prosecute cases that they think people care about. Many people don’t realize that not every crime is prosecuted but maybe pled down to a lesser crime.
What still happens in many of these cases, these policemen, like the ones that played so heavily in Lacy’s life, and have been a part of her rescue and protection, they may bring these cases to the prosecutor, but they may never get to the judge. The case will be pled down to a misdemeanor or some other crime. Sometimes the buyer ends up pleading it down to where he serves less than 15 days in jail total, and many times not any at all. But if that same buyer had been arrested and prosecuted federally, he’d be in prison 15 years because having sex with a child in exchange for anything of value, is a federal crime. Now that’s still going on. And so, there’s a reason for girls like Lacy to be irritated. She spent more time in jail than those who abused her.
In Lacy’s case, where the perpetrators were threatening her with killing or abusing her 10-year-old sister or her mother when you see what was going on emotionally for Lacy it’s no wonder she was angry! So, when you as the average citizen thinking about these stories in the news, you don’t necessarily know the whole emotional story going on with that young lady or that young man, that is being victimized. That’s the word we need to get out to the public – they are victims. And they’re kids. They are traumatized and blackmailed and don’t know how to get out. They’re told “if you tell, we will get your little sister,” then she feels trapped into submitting to their demands in order to protect the ones she loves. Read Lacy’s story here. Part 1 | Part 2
I’ve had those aha moments on things I’ve known, but didn’t really recognize applying with these kids. And that is, the brain development of a child is not complete. Our brains are not ‘cooked’ until about age 25. And at 12 or 13, parts of the brain that would deal with cause and effect, the front part of the brain that weighs risk and danger, there are a lot of those skills that just aren’t developed yet. They don’t see it. Lacy said, “So I gave him my number” in the Chosen film, referencing the man she met in Starbucks.
We say to your kids something like, “Well, don’t you see what’s happening?” No, they don’t. Their brain isn’t developed yet. And likewise, these kids trapped into commercial sex, don’t recognize the danger, and they don’t see the manipulation, and they don’t see how to get out, simply because their brains aren’t yet developed. They trust too much. What they see on the internet, the nice guy who approaches them in the mall.
If an unthreatening young man sits down, particularly with a girl, and lets her talk for about 20 minutes; psychologists will tell you, she thinks he loves her. This is one of the most common methods of recruiting females. The art of building a bond through trust.
She responds differently to a male. She falls for the person if they simply listen to her and give her caring attention. So, what do these guys do? They hang out at Starbucks and they listen to people like Lacy. So, just remember, they are still a child and they may be made a choice to skip school like Lacy did. But this shouldn’t be a choice to slavery and torture and a society disregarding her. No, we need to go after that predator, that man who is shopping for these kids, because the traffickers and the buyers are the bad people, not the innocent kids being caught in their web.
Receive your free copy of the video Chosen here featuring two survivor’s stories.