Human trafficking – the coercive use and abuse of one person by another for monetary gain – is a growing problem in our country. Most of it is related to girls and women being forced into sexual relations with “johns” by their “owners.” These exploited girls and women are used as sexual commodities as both prostitutes and “models” for pornography.
America seems to be awakening to the reality of this sordid issue. Earlier this week, the FBI rescued scores of children and young women from those treating them as sexual property. No less than 168 were extricated from sexual slavery, and 281 flesh-panderers (“pimps”) were arrested.
According to the FBI, “this is the eighth such week long-operation, which this year unfolded in 106 cities. The FBI says nearly 3,600 children have so far been recovered from the streets.” The initiative, which the FBI calls, “Operation Cross Country,” is nationwide, and is having some success. Yet, the crisis remains profound and immediate. FBI Director James B. Comey, in announcing the rescue of the nearly 170 girls and women, made an eloquent statement about its importance:
“These are not children living in some faraway place, far from everyday life. These are our kids. On our street corners. Our truck stops. Our motels. These are America’s children. We locked up 281 pimps over the last week. I want to say a brief word about what we mean by pimp. There’s a risk that people will imagine these folks as TV characters. They are not. They are people who are killing the souls of our children. Their actions are snuffing the life out of the most vulnerable and the most promising of our people.”
Who are these girls and young women victimized so heartlessly and so brutally? According to the “Children at Risk” organization, “Within the realm of (U.S.) sex trafficking, trafficking of minors is especially prevalent, with as many as 300,000 U.S. children at risk for sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking, every year. Most youth at risk for sexual exploitation are runaways or ‘throwaway’ youth who have left home due to experiencing neglect or abuse in their homes.”
Many of those trafficked are also forced into pornography. Many are coerced into abortion. And as can readily be understood, the incidence of sexually-transmitted disease in these young women and girls is very high.
Last month, the U.S. House passed five bills to better enable our law-enforcers to fight human trafficking. This is a welcome development.
Yet, consider the fact that so many, perhaps the overwhelming majority, of the girls and young women who end up as trafficking victims come from broken or otherwise dysfunctional homes. Eager for love, they are ready prey for those who would use them for profit, injuring their bodies, destroying their souls, and scarring their futures.
Christians should take an active role in rescuing those trapped in lives of sexual bondage. There are many resources and ministries available to help them do so.
At the same time, we would fail in our ministries of help and healing to these young women if we neglect to remember why so many are trafficked to begin with: They lack loving, involved, supportive and emotionally healthy dads and moms who provide them with the affection, protection, and hope they so need and deserve.
The best way to fight sexual slavery in the United States, the best way to fight the many evils afflicting our society, is a strong and vibrant family, activated by love and characterized by engaged, thoughtful, prayerful mothers and fathers. Christian families are included: Believing parents should not assume that their kids are immune to the deceits of predators. Faith in Christ without expression in parental love and commitment is dead.
As he closed his statement announcing the deliverance of nearly 170 girls and young women, Comey’s outraged sense of human decency was apparent. He said, “I hate that we have to do this work. I hate it … (but) there is no more meaningful work that the FBI does than rescuing children.”
Abortion, prostitution, pornography, and sex trafficking are hellish evils. There are many good ways to fight them. Loving your child might be the best.
Rob Schwarzwalder is senior vice president at the Family Research Council.
Publication date: June 26, 2014