THE TAKE AWAY
Trafficking: At-Risk Kids
By Kersley Fitzgerald
Continued from Page One
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A story. Way back in the long ago, when I was in the Air Force, I wanted to track satellites at a remote base in Australia. My co-workers discouraged me, saying that the environment at the base was horrible — everyone was depressed, and adultery was rampant among the active duty and the dependents. Later, I met someone who told me the base was the best assignment they'd ever had. The people were wonderful, and they were sorry the base had closed down.
A couple of years later, I met a couple who had also been stationed there. They said that when they arrived, it was just as bad as my coworkers claimed. Everyone was sleeping around. Marriages were in shambles. It was anarchy. They asked God what they should do, and God told them to start a couples' Bible Study. They were skeptical, but they did. People came. Jesus was shared. Relationships healed. Within 2-3 years, the base was a different place.
Social work in the church has a mixed review. It gets sticky when a church makes social work its primary focus or when churches dive too deeply into the politics of social responsibility. At the same time, God calls His people to help the helpless. My friends understood this in Australia, and Compassion International understands this. When we went to the Dominican Republic, we met a woman who said Compassion had made her a better mother. What they taught her was the basics — that she should hold her baby and talk to her, that her kids need good nutrition, that Jesus loves them.
The church can do this. We can teach young parents how to parent. We can help them with stress management so they don't feel the need to self-medicate. We can teach them the value of godly relationships, and even how the wrong partner can hurt their kids. It sounds basic, but it is. The most vulnerable kids are those with parents who most need the basics.
It may seem a bit tangential to worry about kids being abused at home when it comes to sex trafficking, but remember the statistics from before — 85% of trafficking victims were sexually abused as children, 75% of traffickers were sexually abused as children, and 85% of traffickers were physically abused as children. And according to Safe Horizon, it's estimated that of the 1.6 million+ homeless kids in the US, 46% ran away because of physical abuse and 17% ran because they were being abused sexually (US Department of Health and Human Services). Many of these kids' parents abused drugs and/or struggled with mental illness. Stopping the abuse and helping abuse victims heal could decimate the sex trafficking industry. Not to mention help a lot of kids.
Trafficking Statistics Analysis
If you suspect someone is being trafficked or a trafficker is grooming someone, there are several avenues to alert authorities:
• For suspicion of child predators, contact HSI at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or use the online tip form.
• For missing children or suspicion of child sexual exploitation, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
• For known or suspicions of trafficking situations, including locations such as massage parlors, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center's Polaris Project at 1-888-2727-888 or text at BeFree (233733).
• For imminent and/or present trafficking situations, call 911.
Image Credit: Atlanta Children's Shelter Classroom 1; Creative Commons
Tags: Christian-Life | Current-Issues | Hardships | Ministry-Church | Sin-Evil
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