We want to help the youth we work with to find their way to God with as many resources as possible. Most of the topics we discuss are not just fun and games. The teens we work with face real and serious issues so we address those issues to help them get through whatever they are facing. One of those issues is a giant adversary to our readers is human trafficking. Human trafficking is a traumatic and horrific circumstance for kids (especially girls ages 12 to 14 on average) that makes them suffer through sexual exploitation, shame and fear.
Kelly Benson, a doctor of law, said it best in an article she wrote for us over the basics of human trafficking in Issue 7 of FRUIT. magazine. She mentions the process of what these young girls go through. The initial manipulation is simple and innocent with the man making vulnerable girls, like runaways, feel they can have a better life with them. It is too late when a girl realizes she is being used financially and sexually.
Benson works for an organization called Free the Captives. This non-profit organization helps with programs like “4 Real”, which helps victims of human trafficking by having them gain love and self-respect. Christian women mentors and a safe environment are included in this program. Free the Captives also helps shut down sexual exploitation by working with Vince Ryan, a Harris County attorney. They work together “in shutting down sexually oriented businesses where trafficking occurs behind closed doors.”
Free the Captives is just one of many organizations working to end human trafficking and rehabilitate survivors. With FRUIT. Magazine, we try to help through our “Hey Ladies!” articles. The main purpose of this column is to provide girls with human trafficking education. These articles are dedicated to girls and women who are seeking God and help. We write them to give them advice on things like toxic relationships and addictions which can lead to these girls being trafficked. We encourage you to read these articles on our Issue Archive. We write this column to let our readers know that they matter, and we care about giving them the tools they need to succeed.
If you want to help, here are the signs from the U.S. Department of State website that a child is a victim of human trafficking:
Look for physical indications such as malnutrition, bruising, broken bones, critical illnesses and/or any tattoos that indicate branding (such as “daddy”).
Be aware of any locations like massage parlors, adult bookstores and bars that young kids are seen being taken to. They will usually have a guard by them. A translator may also accompany them.
Behaviors like being anxious around a suspected traffickers, being degraded and/or not having their own travel documents are also serious signs.
These children could live in the same areas as seedy places like brothels or any other kind of worksite where there are restrictions on them leaving the area (think barred windows or a guarded compound). Some worksites take the form of construction sites, sweatshops, fields, processing plants, canneries, nanny and maid work, and restaurant and custodial work.
If you witness any such activity and/or location, reports should be made to the National Hotline for Human Trafficking at 1-888-3737-888.