Last week I sat in a hard chair with a red velvet cookie and my pen in hand at a conference about domestic sex trafficking (shout out to Dawn Maglish from INsideOUT Salon for putting it on). The room was full of people from the community asking the question: “Does this REALLY happen in the U.S.?”
I sat there and reapplied my MAC Viva Glam 1 red lipstick, waiting for the detectives to start sharing with the group. Every girl needs a signature look, and I’ve adopted thick black winged liner and red lips just like half the country. What more could I hear that I hadn’t already read? What new information would they bring?
They started talking and I think my jaw literally dropped open and hung there for the next hour. The things they shared… The things that happen in our communities… Our safe communities. Our beautiful and clean communities. It made me sick.
I remember my stomach lurching during a particular story, when the detective shared that they recently saw a case in Idaho (of all places, I mean really) where a man videoed himself penetrating an infant with the umbilical cord still attached and sent it out over the internet into the expectant, outstretched hands of men.
In that moment, my signature look stopped being a big deal. Everything stopped being a big deal. Nothing mattered right then, and all I could think was, “But the CHILDREN, Lord. The CHILDREN. How can this be happening?”
There are 4,000 cases of child pornography in Boise, Idaho. These children are a mix of trafficked victims who have been stolen, images that have been taken from the web pages of parents and Facebook profiles of pre-teens and teens. It may not seem like a big deal, but if you heard the stories – you would see what a massive problem we are facing. Story after story of local children – 1, 3, 11 years old. Beaten, raped, gang raped, videotaped, molested, branded with barcodes, transported in trucks, kept in captivity. THIS IS REAL. This is not just in the movie ‘Taken.’
I just want to tell you something today:
YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOT SAFE.
I tell you this not to scare you, but to open your eyes to the reality of what is happening on your streets, in your neighborhoods. Child sex trafficking victims in the United States are not just foreigners, they are not just from big cities – they are the children next door. They could be YOUR children.
The pictures you post on the internet of your children in the bath, your daughters sleeping in their beds, your son outside in a pile of leaves – they open your children to sexual exploitation.
As long as there are pornography addictions, prostitution, and sex trafficking in the United States, all of our children are in danger.
This is why we must fight. We cannot stand by, we cannot just post a justice quote on Facebook. We CANNOT turn our heads away because of the harsh reality and gut-wrenching stories. We must look this problem in the face. We must approach it with ferocity, passion, and fire in our hearts.
We must protect the children.
Cut out the demand, and there will be no need for supply. Men, be good men. Women, nurture and protect your children. Let’s make our communities a death wish for traffickers. Let’s all raise our voices as one and scream to the world that sex slavery will not be tolerated on our streets and in our cities.
Join me in this journey. Raising awareness is the first way we can fight the good fight. Each and every person has a valuable circle that they can speak into – it is our duty to share this injustice with those around us. When children are being sold as sex slaves, it becomes a problem for every person to try to fix.