“They are finding kids who are very poverty-stricken, very hopeless, and they’re hiring them to be recruiters for them,” said Deena Graves, executive director of Traffick 911, a Fort Worth, Texas-based anti-human trafficking organization. “These are what we call ‘throwaways’ in our society. These guys are preying on vulnerable kids.” Human trafficking can earn very high returns because there’s very little investment. Sometimes, all it takes is a cheeseburger to lure a homeless runaway into the car. On average, a trafficker can make $200,000 a year on one child. At any given time, there are 50 million predators on the Internet in search of a vulnerable child. Those who exhibit problems at home are typically targeted, as are those who are depressed, neglected or hungry.
The average age that children are forced into sexual slavery in the U.S. is 12 to 13, but they can be abducted at an even younger age. With approximately 45,000 missing children in Texas alone, as of 2010, it’s easy for missing children to be sold over and over because no one is looking for them. According to the FBI, the average life expectancy is 7 years once they are abducted. This is due to many factors, including drug use, suicide, disease and murder.
With the Department of Justice naming the I-10 corridor as the No. 1 route for human trafficking in the U.S. and I-45 and I-35 meeting with the interstate in Dallas, children are moved around constantly using these highways. A trafficker’s goal is to get out of big cities like Dallas and into smaller towns or suburbs where law enforcement isn’t as threatening.
In some instances, abducted children are actually used to attract children from both poor and affluent families. These recruiters can be planted in local schools via false registration, and are paid by gangs or cartels to befriend a classmate for the purpose of eventually handing her over to be sold. By and large, many of the people on the frontlines for combatting this – school nurses, teachers, police officers, judges – either don’t know the problem exists, or see it as just teens making poor choices. Traffick 911 works with schools, organizations and local government to train them in knowing what to look for and what to do if they suspect one of their students is a victim.
With the normalization of commercial sex and the glamorization of pimping, society is driving this horrific crime against our children, according to the Traffick 911 website. One pimp revealed to the organization, “We don’t have to groom girls anymore. Our society is doing it for us.”
Learn more at Kelley Chambers’ Plano Courier Star article: Anti human trafficking group meets Republican women, calls on schools and legislators for action.