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Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Exposing the Dark World of Human Trafficking (Part 2 of 2)

Exposing the Dark World of Human Trafficking (Part 2 of 2)

Former US Congresswoman Linda Smith discusses the alarming prevalence of modern-day human trafficking, what is being done domestically to protect victims, and how parents and youth leaders can teach the warning signs to their children. (Part 2 of 2)

Opening:

John:  On our last “FOF” with Jim Daly, one of our guests was named Briana and she shared her perception of what human trafficking is, but that was before she became a victim.

Recap:

Briana: And I had heard about it before this encounter happened. And um … the way I envisioned it was one of those big old blacked-out vans and you’re thrown in the back and shipped off to Mexico.

Jim:  Right.

Briana: I didn’t think that it was this handsome guy who had everything in common with me and um … was presenting a life opportunity to me that was too good to pass up.

End of Recap

John:  Hm.  Well, that’s a perspective that you’ll hear more about on our program today. And the … the sad truth is, human traffickers use many tactics to lure victims into the industry. And uh … we’ll look at some of those things today. This is an informative conversation about what you can do to protect your children and their friends. As I noted, our host is Focus president, Jim Daly.  I’m John Fuller and Jim, as we get into this topic, it’s pretty clear I think, that you’ll want your younger children within earshot of the program here to be occupied elsewhere.

Opening Wrap:

Jim:  It’s good advice, John. You know, last time Briana gave us a vivid account of her experience of being trafficked. And again, I know this is sensitive. And I know that some of you may be uncomfortable hearing about it. But we need to equip you, so you know for your own child’s protection and the protection of your child’s friends in your neighborhood. This is something that Christians can do to step in the gap to really help thwart the efforts of evil. And you know, that’s what we do as Christians. Um … we’re gonna talk about it today. And John, so often in the news we’re hearing stories where girls and boys are taken.  And thankfully in some cases, they are recovered, not in every case.

John: Hm.

Jim: And that breaks my heart that the innocence of these children are [sic] literally stolen from ’em. Their childhood is gone. And that is wrong and so, whatever we can do to shine a light, a light of truth I think that comes right from God’s heart in this area, it’s worthy of our efforts.

John: Well, I … I appreciate that passion right there, Jim for justice and for protecting our children. And really, that’s why we’re wading into these waters. And our guest is someone who does so without fear and she (Chuckling) does so with … with courage and sensitivity. And I’m speaking about Linda Smith. She’s the founder of Shared Hope International and uh … she gave us some interesting and rather shocking statistics about the preponderance of trafficking today.

Jim: John, she did. In fact, just to alert everyone, she shared that every single year, between 100,000 and 300,000 children will be sexually trafficked and have their bodies sold for profit. And the average entry age, 12-years-old. We should be outraged about this going on in our culture.

John: Well, and if you want to take uh … what we’re talking about here to heart, go online at our website.  We’re gonna have a link to a state-by-state report card.  You’ll find out how your state is doing. We also have some tips there for how you can protect your child practically speaking and some signposts for the ways that traffickers work.

Well, last time we ran out of time and uh … so, we’re gonna continue on with the second half of the conversation with Linda Smith and a special guest, Briana, a girl who was rescued from trafficking in a rather dramatic way.  And with that backdrop, let’s continue today’s “FOF.”

Body:

Jim:  Linda, this is so sophisticated. It … to Briana’s point earlier, it’s not the black van rolling up in a parking lot somewhere and snatching someone, although I’m sure that also happens.  But this is a well-conceived, manipulative plan to get into the life of a young girl and basically take her over physically, emotionally, in every way.  Talk about those characteristics. And mom and dad, this is what we want you to hear to protect your kids. These are the things you need to look for uh … with these relationships with your children’s friends.

Linda: When I first started identifying it, um … I started realizing the first thing is, they’re patient and they go where your child is. They go online. They go to the mall.  They go to arcades, places kids hang out and they go watch your kids’ school ball games.  They build relationship. They build friendship. They might set beside them at school at an after-school sports event for months.  And then they’re no longer a stranger.

If that’s alarming and often it is, ’cause they’re an older person they are alarmed at, they then send in some younger.  Or … they’re in your schools.  They’re sometimes formed by gangs and sometimes working with gangs to befriend girls, to be sold through the gang. But often just alone or a handful of pimps that have what’s called a “stable” in the area.  And they will have a junior high kid or a high school kid just befriend a girl. And they are told, “Be patient. It’s profitable.”

And so, um … one of the girls that is also a part of this new school video, uh … assembly video that we’re creating, we call her “Lacy.” She used to go to Starbucks and a store and buy groceries at 12 for her siblings. She hung out in the neighborhood and two teenage boys kept saying, “When you turn 13 and you’re grown up, you should start gettin’ to go to the parties.” They planted that over months.

Now she had a really strong church youth group. She took those same little brothers and sisters that she cared for uh … while her mother worked, to church, so that they had a real strong community. And no one realized that this little so-called church girl without a boyfriend was being stalked.

On her 13th birthday, she snuck out.  Nothing happened really, except a guy, a little older than the 16-year-olds that got her to party.  Um … she met this guy and says it was too old.  “He was kind of gross, Linda.” And she told me that later.  She says, but then he started showing up.  He was at my school. And there he was at Starbucks. And she said, “It must have been fate. God must have planned this. He was so nice to me.”

John:  Hm.

Linda:  Several months later, she lied and they get them in a lie and say, “See, you chose.”  And they will try to make them lie once or be deceptive, these good little girls.

Jim: To their parents.

Linda:  Yeah.

Jim:  Yeah.

Linda:  And she lied and at school, she went to a movie with him, ’cause he says, “You deserve … you deserve something. Go to a movie.” Bought her popcorn.  Got her a little gift and started showin’ up. And one day he says, “I don’t have any money. I’m in trouble.” And he takes her.  He said, “You can dance,” ’cause she was an athlete and she was kind of awkward about it. But he took her to a strip club and had her raped in a side room, took pictures and this is how it works.  He then trafficked her out of her home for a period of weeks. And she–

Jim: And she said nothing–

Linda:  –would …

Jim: –because she was intimidated.

Linda:  Worse than that.  The pictures, he said, “I’ll show ’em to your ‘churchey’ friends.  I’m gonna show ’em to the kids at school. And your 10-year-old sister, remember, we know where we got you.”  He did awful things to her that I’m not gonna talk about.  They were not as scary to her and the torture and all the men that were forced on her, as thinking about her 10-year-old sister.  And he kept her 18 months, eventually took off with her, sold her into other states and very interesting. It was also Phoenix. He was flying her in for the wealthy in Scottsdale and other places for $10,000 a weekend.  And then fly her back and eventually again, he just kept her in a stable.

We got her after uh … an incident. I can’t go through, but we helped move her.  I’ve had her three years. And by the grace of God, she is healed in so many ways. She’s building, but she lost her childhood, because men are out there buying the innocence of our children.

Jim: Linda, I mean, I don’t even know what to say with all of that. Um … you know, again, it just … it reminds, me, one, just the depravity of human beings, that we would do this to each other. It shows you in so stark a way of the evil in man’s heart.

You know, you talked about being stalked and those kinds of things.  It’s like the wolf. You have lived that, Briana.  You have been stalked in that way. To trust again, how are you doing in that regard, to rebuild the ability to be vulnerable, to trust? And how is God helping you in that journey?

Briana:  Uh-hm. I feel like I am really aware of my surroundings now. Um … for a long time, that was really hard. I didn’t really go anywhere. I didn’t talk to anyone. And so, um … what actually changed my life was a man went into cardiac arrest in front of me. And no one was around to give him CPR but me. And I gave him CPR and it was … the fact that I had the feeling, I can give life back to someone who’s fighting for it when they didn’t know that they were fighting for it. And that’s what Linda did for me. She gave me back my life when I didn’t even know I was fighting for it.

And um … another thing, he was a … a pastor and it was like, wow!  God really does have a hand on me.  And He (Weeping) … He put me in that position to uh … to save that man’s life, just like He put Linda in the position to save mine. And so, now I just have to trust in people um … that there are good people out there and that um … the bad ones will hopefully, one day find God and … and find peace in themselves and forgiveness. And that um … after hearing about what they’re doing to us girls, they will ask for forgiveness and change their lives and change their direction and start educating young men.

Jim:  Wow!  Briana, that is so powerful hearing it from you. You are a mature and responsible person and just spiritually, to understand that, that um … that God’s heart is for people, especially us sinners.

Briana: Yeah.

Jim: And uh … that it’s an amazing thing, God’s love for us.

Briana:  Uh-hm.

Jim:  And as you’ve seen His love through Linda and even through your own expression of that to that pastor who was needing help–

Briana:  Uh-hm.

Jim: –that’s a beautiful story. Uh … Linda, when you look to the future, given where the culture’s at and given the intensity on sex in the culture, I mean, the way it is elevated, the way that it … we’re all being desensitized to it–church and the world. And what do you see down the road in our country, when girls as young as 12 and 13, maybe 10 are being preyed upon by men that are willing to spend $10,000 for the day to sexually exploit them? Is there any hope that it’s gonna get better?

Linda: I remember when I rescued the first girls and then I went into despair, ’cause I thought, I have 30-some girls that I’m raising and there’s thousands out there. But God reminded me, I’m responsible for what’s in front of me. What is in front of me is the knowledge that our justice system lets men buy sex with kids if the child’s called a prostitute. And I do believe that what will change the issue the most is people knowing.  And once they know, demanding that men come to justice who would buy children–

John:  Uh-hm.

Linda:  –and that men have something that they can show to their sons, so that they can understand that pornography and commercial sex is not without victimization.  When we do that, when we start saying, it is wrong to buy commercial sex and we stand strong as men and women–particularly men–young men who are looking to them for direction will understand.

And then the other thing that we need to do that probably is just as important and I don’t know which one comes first, is have men talk to their sons.  Have the youth leaders talk to the youth and have them understand what child sex trafficking is.   What if the young children, the people in Lacy’s life had known what trafficking looked like? What if the school leader, what if the parents had known and taught their kids, they’d have been aware of the little tiny tattoo on that little girl’s shoulder that, that is a sign of a trafficker.

Well, I do believe we can prevent trafficking by the youth knowing and the people around the youth and then getting tough on those that would buy the innocence of children. Oh, there’s something we can do and we never should go into the despair that I have on occasion gone into, thinking it’s too big. God said He died for each one of us.

Jim:  Hm.

Linda:  If He looked at us that way and said, “Oh, it’s too big. There’s too many sinners.”

Jim:  Li … Linda, let … you’re saying some incredible things there and I … I want to dissect a couple of them. One is for youth pastors particularly, I think that’s a great place to start, for them to be better educated on the signs. Um … certainly, mom and dad, you’re defense No. 1, for you to be better educated on the signs. And we need to link to your website and we’ll post some things on the Focus website–

John:  Uh-hm.

Jim:  –those things that we need to be aware of and looking for behaviorally in our daughters and in our sons in some cases, to see what’s happening. Briana, I want to come back to you and … and ask you about your mom and dad, because instinctively, for people hearing your story and Lacy’s story and literally, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of other kids’ stories about sex trafficking, they think, well, their … their homes were probably not healthy. We begin to judge what environment you’re coming from. Talk about that for a minute. You’re comin’ from a good home.  Lacy was comin’ from a good home. Uh … that doesn’t always insure that you’re gonna be protected.

Briana: Absolutely.  My home … I grew up in a small town and I felt really safe there. You know, it’s like everybody knows you and that’s a really safe feeling, that everybody knows you and is kinda watching over you.

Um … my parents are still married, 22 years now and um … I just felt a lot of support growing up.  I’m the youngest of five kids and I always had things to do, you know, if it wasn’t going to my older siblings’ sporting events with my family, it was going to my own sporting events.  And I was really blessed to um … (Weeping) just have parents that love me and that just um … supported me through everything.

And for someone to say that my parents weren’t good parents, um … that’s a joke. That’s a lie. My parents did the best job that they um … could. And without them knowing about trafficking, how could they protect me from trafficking? How do you protect your child from something that you yourself don’t understand?

So, right now I think it’s extremely important for everyone out there who has a child, to learn as much about sex trafficking and the tactics traffickers use, so that they can watch out for their kids and most importantly, teach their kids.  Um … educate your children about what you find out, because you can’t just say, “No, don’t uh … give your phone number to guys, because they can be really bad.”  That’s not enough.  They need to know what could be around the corner if they do give their phone number to a guy.

Jim:  Let me ask you this question and I appreciate that encouragement and you’re answering the question I wanted to ask you, which is, for parents.  You know, I’m a parent of two boys.  What would you say to me?  Make sure you do this …?  You just answered it in part, by saying, don’t just give a … a pat answer.  You … would you say, really sit down with them?

Briana: Uh-hm.

Jim:  Especially your teenagers, like if I had a teenage girl at 13, to really sit down and go into this in some details, maybe not full detail.

Briana:  Uh-hm.

Jim:  ‘Cause as parents, we always have to balance how much do we disclose–

Briana:  Yes.

Jim:  –because we want to assume our child is innocent–

Briana:  Uh-hm.

Jim:  –and not thinking in these ways. How do we share enough to protect them? What could your parents have said or what I could say to my boys tonight … today?

Briana:  Sure.

Jim: Help me understand that. What could I say that would’ve helped you?

Briana: I think a great way for parents to go about educating their children about sex trafficking is, to not go towards, this is what is gonna happen to you. I like the approach of um … I’m teaching you about sex trafficking, not because I don’t trust you. It’s because it’s important for you to understand in case it’s happening to you or a friend.

Jim:  Uh-hm.

Briana: And it’s–

Jim: That’s good.

Briana: –that watching out for a friend that kind of takes the pressure off the parent and the child, that the child, you know, oh, you’re not just thinking of me; you’re thinking of my friends. And now she’s more interested. And I think the parents can be more open about talking to their children about what’s happening to other kids, than the emotion of their own children.

Jim: Right and in that context I would think, Linda this is probably true and you’ve seen it as you’ve worked with parents and … and girls, that when you start this discussion, to the child it can sound very accusatory–

Briana:  Uh-hm.

Jim:  –like you’re comin’ at me.  You don’t trust me.  You don’t trust my friends. There may be and probably isn’t anything going on that’s too serious, hopefully at that point. But the child can react and then that ends up driving a wedge between mom and dad and the daughter, as opposed to drawing you together.  I love the way Briana said it there, which is, “Let’s talk about this, so it can help you someday or it can help your friends someday.” Is that a good way to go?

Linda: We’ve created a whole series of video[s] called “Chosen,” that literally says, you could be chosen. Your child could be chosen or your friends could be chosen. Let’s not let them choose the people that we love.  So, it has versions that are for the dad to the son, youth group leader to the male youth–

Jim:  That’s excellent.

Linda: –versions of you seeing it with your youth at home. And primary is a 50-minute video and Power Point and all that you need to do a school assembly in any private or public school.  So, it is, “protect yourself and your friends.”  And that’s our responsibility; that’s what we want to do.  And be a good friend.

Jim: Hm.  Linda, somethin’ we didn’t cover and I’m intrigued by it and Briana mentioned it, but these younger boys who are involved. They’re working uh … with the syndicate to pull this off. They may be 16-, 18-year-old boys.  How … how do they get into this? And what keeps them there? Do they not have a conscience?

Linda:  Well, these young boys are like any young boys. They think of sexuality different than a female to begin with. They’ve been seeing porn for many years and then some of ’em just … the same as any child, they want to belong somewhere. So, they’re actually being recruits in their own way also by older males or older teens, to belong somewhere. Sometimes that looks like a formal gang. Sometimes it’s just belonging.  Sometimes it’s an uncle who is involved or a dad. Um … sometimes it’s generations that have been trafficking and prostituting girls.

It’s a variety of different young men, but again, the same answer.  [It] happens for a male as it happens for females. A certain number of males, when they understand this is not victimless, when they understand what happens to the girls, when they understand that they’re not truly defenders God would make them, but they are truly hurting a girl and destroying their life, they will turn away.

Jim:  Hm.

Linda:  They just don’t know.  So, we believe that we will have a generation of defenders of these young men, who will stand up and be like the brave young man that was the defender and the young man that saved Briana.  No, I don’t think their “conscience-less” at all. Uh … and I think that they absolutely, like anybody’s son, just like Briana’s somebody’s daughter, there is a world out there preying on our children and they will get them in whatever way they can.  And sexuality for a young man has always been a way the devil’s loved to destroy his life. And we just have to not let that happen, by bringing greater knowledge and understanding about this issue.

Jim: Linda, you speak so calmly about it. I mean, I’m in my skin just going, “Men, let’s go!”  I mean, this is a man’s issue and we have lost it in this culture about what it is to be men and uh … I’m frustrated hearing you speak. I’m sorry, but there’s somethin’ in it that, you know, we need to be the warriors God created us to be, not the exploiters.

Um … and I’m gonna say this. Now it’s probably gonna irritate some people.  We had a … a uh … anonymous line here at FOF where uh … people could call in, mostly men could call in.  About half of those calling in were dealing and struggling with pornography. I’m just gonna say it. It was the pastoral line.  That says a lot, [as to] why we as men are not engaged in this, because there’s guilt. Um … we’re saturated in it and we can’t see the right thing to do because we’re blind.

Linda: I think our society has permeated the church and uh … I think that uh … we are no different. The devil would love to take us out and we are different in one way. And that is, if the church can be affected by pornography, the world can say, “You’re not any different.” It affects our testimony. I think once you step over that line of how bad you feel about this whole thing about prostitution, pornography, what you maybe did as a kid, maybe what you’ve done as a man and you step into God’s grace, He’s gonna give you what you need.  And it will be right and it will always have the boldness that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Jim:  Hm.

Linda: You can’t muster it up. You can’t do it, but the Holy Spirit within you can do it. So, I challenge you.  Be defenders. Stand; be brave and tell somebody else about this program.

Jim: Linda, I’m thinking of the magnitude of this. Can I ask you to pray?  Pray for those poor souls who are caught in this right now, who have been caught in it, like Lacy and Briana, who … the girls that will be, ’cause we can’t stop it today.  Can you pray for them and pray for their families, uh … for safety and all the things that we need to pray for?

Linda: I would love to.  God, You see everyone in this market of misery, that the world has created and that You detest. God, first I pray for the men who are isolated in pornography. I pray for their marriages. I pray for revelation. I pray for justice for them, yes, but more than that, I pray that You would get in their heart and this day, they would just change. They’d make a pledge to change and take an action to change their lives.

Lord, for the girls, so many young women and … and women that … and children that have fallen into this or been forced or deceived. I pray that You would bring the peace that comes from You, that we cannot give them, but You can give them, as You show them Your love.  That what happened to them is not who they are. They’re still loved by You, beautiful daughters, loved and hugged.

Lord, I pray for the law enforcement. I pray for Child Protective Services, for those that are out there in the justice system, that they will bring justice for the girls, [that] they’ll treat ’em as the victims that they are.

Now Lord, as each person hears this, I pray that you will lay on their heart the exact thing they’re to do next, that they won’t set it aside, but they’ll do something today, because you are the God of justice.  We praise You and we love You. We thank You for letting us serve. Amen.

Jim, John and Briana: Amen.

Jim:  And thank you again, Linda for being with us and Briana, thank you.

Briana: Thank you.

Closing:

John: And that prayer from Linda Smith ended our sober, but not hopeless conversation about human trafficking on today’s “FOF” with Jim Daly.

Jim: John, I want to reiterate Linda’s charge to rise up and take action. You know, it’s so easy to sit back and hear about it, but do nothing. And this is one issue that we do need to step up.  And the best first step is learning the signs of trafficking, so that you could play a part in rescuing a girl like Briana from a life of bondage.  I mean, talk about practical application of our Christian faith.

Secondly, check out your state’s report card, so that you can take action to strengthen it.  And it starts with people. It’s a mom who’s at home working in the home, but she will take action in some state to say, “I am not gonna rest until this is improved.” God bless you for that motivation and that drive.

Uh … you know, here at FOF, we want to bring these types of issues to your attention, to bring healing to a family that is broken, a family that has been sexualized by the culture, for those children that have been impacted. Will you help us do that financially?  We would deeply appreciate hearing from you.  And that’s the way I believe, John, the Christian community can have great impact in our culture in this time.

Closing Voice Track:

John: Well, I’d agree and uh … you can sign up right now to become a monthly supporter of this ministry at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . And you’ll know that your gift makes a tremendous impact in the work that we’re able to accomplish together.

And uh … when you’re there, please look for your state’s report card. That’s been mentioned a couple of times. It might be an eye-opening experience for you and also a list of those warning signs that Jim mentioned. We also have CDs and instant downloads of this conversation and Smartphone apps, so you can listen on the go to this program.  Details online as I said or at 1-800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459.

Our program was provided by FOF and is made possible by your generous donations. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, I’m John Fuller, thanking you for listening and inviting you back next time, when we’ll once more, turn our hearts toward home.

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