National Human Trafficking Awareness Day Part Two


“West Virginia’s drug epidemic may be leading to increases in what’s called “familial sex trafficking.” Family members trading sex with a child in their family for drugs or money. But spotting the problem and prosecuting the offenders is very difficult.  

When we think of sex trafficking, we usually think of other countries. That’s a myth. Or we may even think of other states.
 Other Myths About Human Trafficking:
  • Human trafficking victims are only foreign born individuals and those who are poor.
  • Human Trafficking is only sex trafficking.
  • Individuals must be forced or coerced into to commercial sex acts to be victims of human trafficking.

The truth is, it’s happening here in the state of WV and in your state, wherever you live. It’s a difficult world to untangle especially when it involves children and their family. Every child deserves a safe home to grow up in. Free from violence. Free from drug addiction. Free from molestations and being sold for sexual favors.

Every child deserves a safe home.

“Morris said human trafficking is defined as the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. But that definition only applies for adults.

“There is no such thing as a child prostitute,” he explained. In other words, underage children cannot consent to sell their bodies for either sex or labor. When a child’s body is being sold, it’s abuse and rape, period.”

How do we define these lines and how do we prevent this sort of trafficking?

“An abuse of a child’s vulnerability by a person’s position of power or trust, exploiting that position to obtain sexual services in exchange for some form of favour such as alcohol, drugs, attention or gifts” – Engage Team, Blackburn

What to watch for in children:

You may notice a child that is:

  • Often going missing/truanting
  • Secretive
  • Has unexplained money/presents
  • Experimenting with drugs/alcohol
  • Associating with/being groomed by older people (not in normal networks)
  • In relationships with significantly older people
  • Taking part in social activities with no plausible explanation
  • Seen entering or leaving vehicles with unknown adults
  • Showing evidence of physical/sexual assault (including STD’s)
  • Showing signs of low self image/self harm/eating disorder

These are just a starting point. The problem locating these kids is the acts of violence are behind closed doors and many times the kids have come to believe this is ‘normal’. Family violence, drug addiction and alcoholism may be part of their every day life. It’s hard to tell a child that they are being molested, abused and/or raped if the child has always lived that ‘normal’. When your parents are also your pimps and abusers, the lines get confusing. The child may even form a relationship with the adult who is raping them. The child may not understand or know that Mom or Dad is being paid for the sexual acts.

I’m sure by now you’re nodding your head, sad, maybe even crying, wondering if there is anything you can do. You can. You can be on the lookout for the list of things above. I’m not saying get binoculars and spy on your neighbor, just be aware of your surroundings. Don’t assume if you live in a more middle class neighborhood that it can’t happen there.

Be aware of who comes and goes in your neighborhood. Watch out for other peoples children (like we did in the old days). If your neighbor has four kids, do you see them play outside? Don’t report every little thing you see, because that’s just the wrong thing to do. Talk to parents first before you jump to conclusions. Just be aware. Same when you are out in public. Keep your eyes open.

Want to learn a more about Human Trafficking? Be sure to check out The Whole House Podcast, Episode Two. Also, included on the podcast page are some helpful links and a hotline you can call. I’ll share it here too.

National Human Trafficking Hotline- Call 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711)|Text 233733

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