Emily, a 15-year-old ninth-grader, ran away from home in early November, and her parents are sitting at their dining table, frightened and inconsolable. The parents, Maria and Benjamin, both school-bus drivers, have been searching for their daughter all along and pushing the police to investigate. They gingerly confess their fears that Emily, a Latina, is being controlled by a pimp.
Emily had been advertised for sex in four states: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The ads attract deviants who will pay more for the right to be extra violent or abusive. Maria is bitter that the police haven’t done more. She has been pleading for months for help, hounding the police — and now she finds that her daughter has been advertised in four states on multiple prostitution websites and no one seems to have checked or noticed.
Every day, more than 4,000 children run away or are kicked out of their home — and there’s negligible interest. Partly the problem is that many see sex trafficking as serious only when the victim is dragged off in chains; we don’t appreciate Stockholm syndrome or understand that often the handcuffs are psychological. Attitudes are changing, just as they have toward domestic violence, but too slowly.
Today Emily is safe, but there are hundreds of thousands of other runaways out on the streets. These are our kids, in danger. Shouldn’t they be a national priority?
Learn more at Nicholas Kristof’s The New York Times article: When Emily Was Sold for Sex.