As human trafficking continues to plague nations around the world, America is unraveling the truth behind the growing problem, feeling the sting of vulnerable child victims. Jon Tuesday, July 30, the FBI arrested 150 alleged pimps and rescued 105 young victims – some as young as 13 years old – in national sex-trafficking raids. The FBI arrested individuals throughout the United States on the charges of forcing children against their will for prostitution, resulting in a three-day weekend sweep that officials regard as the largest-ever operation against child sex-trafficking.
FBI agents and local police officers recovered child victims during the operation at multiple locations, including truck stops, motels, casinos and more. According to the U.S. Justice Department, the alleged pimps were arrested throughout 76 U.S. cities, all of them expected to face state and federal charges related to sex crimes and human trafficking.
The largest raid was in the San Francisco area, where officers reported to have rescued 12 juveniles and arrested 17 pimps. The raids were carried out by nearly 4,000 local, state and federal officers, raising awareness to the vulnerabilities of foster children, who are targeted and recruited by child sex traffickers, some even right out of the foster care system.
The FBI calls the child prostitution program the “Operation Cross Country,” an initiative that is already responsible for convicting 1,350 people and at least 10 individuals were sentenced to life in prison, according to officials.
Bringing darkness into the light
While the horrific sex-trafficking raids continue to shock citizens around the country, those who have been fighting against this injustice for years are encouraging one another to recognize the victory behind the hurt, empowering others now more than ever to take a stand against human trafficking and take a step closer to a problem from which many are far removed.
FBI Assistant Director, Ronald Hosko, notes, “We are trying to take this crime out of the shadows and put a spotlight on it.”
Christians around the world are leading initiatives to “bring darkness into light,” providing refuge for survivors in an effort to rebuild their lives. For instance, Redeemed Ministries is a faith-based nonprofit in Texas that places a high priority on outreach, aftercare and advocacy. The group believes there is hope for victims of human trafficking, and that “the bonds of modern day slavery can be exchanged for the freedom of a second chance.” Volunteers in like-minded faith-based ministries are firmly rooted in the idea that every person is valuable and deserves opportunities for physical and heart restoration.
Not only are many faith-based organizations and churches making an effort to provide aid to those emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually scarred by human trafficking, they are relentless in educating the public through various creative projects. A 2nd Cup coffee shop is a faith-based nonprofit in Houston, Texas, dedicated to seeking an end to human trafficking.
What can I do?
Educating yourself on how to recognize sex-trafficking in your area is the first step to having a voice and putting an end to human trafficking. To report a trafficker or victim, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Hotline. The 24-hour, seven day a week, toll-free hotline is the most effective way to contact specialists who can connect victims with law enforcement and social service providers in your area.
To best publicize the hotline services and remain vigilant in the fight against human trafficking, the specialists at NHTRC implore individuals to consider the following:
- Dedicate your Facebook status to the hotline for a week.
- Put up hotline flyers in Greyhound bus stations.
- Tell five friends to put the hotline number in their cell phones
- Talk about this resource with the people in your life.
- Post hotline flyers in motels and hotels in your area.
Safe Harbor Christian Counseling is committed to taking a stand against sex trafficking, supplying aid to victims of trafficking and sex abuse in order to provide hope, renewed purpose and encouragement. Safe Harbor extends coping and healing resources to the families and friends of victims. For more information on Safe Harbor’s counseling and therapy services, visit http://www.safeharbor1.com. Consider joining in on our faith-based dialogue by visiting the Facebook page and following Safe Harbor Christian Counseling on Twitter.