- That it exists A lot of times when we hear the word trafficking we think of places overseas and yes that’s what I thought as well until I learned that there are over 300,00 child victims in the U.S. alone. I then didn’t think it was so close to home until I read that St. Louis is in the top 20 cities where trafficking takes place. We are number 17 to be exact! There’s a highway called highway 35 that runs through St. Louis and you can virtually get to any state from it which makes it easier for these children to continuously be shuffled around so that no one finds them. The average age of entry into this sick industry is 13 however, the earliest reported victim in St. Louis was in the second grade and the earliest reported victim ever was 2 years old ;-(.
- What their life is like Sex-trafficking is defined as a “commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.” Their life is pretty much hell. In order to groom these victims they make them watch hours of pornography as well as dance in strip clubs. When they are ready, victims have reported having to service up to 40 clients a day.
- Know the signs Teachers you may have a victim in your class whose parents sell them on the weekends for drug money. Here are some of the signs, but for a complete list visit here. Social Interaction:
- Inability to speak to individual alone
- When addressed, answers seem scripted and rehearsed
- Inconsistencies when describing or recounting events
- Unable or unwilling to give local address of or information about parent or guardian
- Refers to sexual situations beyond their age level or maturity
- Avoids eye contact
- Signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement or torture (may be reluctant to explain)
- Untreated illnesses or infections, especially STDs
- Appears malnourished
- Lacks healthcare and/or dental care
- Tattoos/branding on neck, lower back
- Always wears same clothes regardless of weather or situation
- There’s help for victims Thank God that there are people in this world dedicating their lives to rescuing and restoring victims of sex-trafficking and we have a wonderful organization right here in St. Louis, MO called The Covering House. The Covering House is a place where victims can seek refuge, transitional housing, therapy, prevention and out-client services.
- How you can help There are a number of ways that you can help. The Covering House is a great place to start. Whether donating money, time, or talent, they can definitely use your help. If this issue pricks your heart like it does mine, take a look at their website and see where you fit in. One of their biggest fundraisers is coming up called the Race For Refuge on September 5th at Tower Grove Park. Kenny and I will be there and we hope to see you too!
My husband and I are also doing a Beauty Drive. The Covering House has this beautiful home in an undisclosed location where victims can have a safe place to rehabilitate. They are in need of African American Hair products such as, shampoo, conditioner and styling products. We have two drop off locations one at a Cosecha Coffee 7360 Manchester Rd. in Maplewood and in St. Ann ALISA’s TKO Barber and Beauty Salon 9774 St. Charles Rock Road. We are collecting these products now through Saturday, Septmber 12th. Small acts like this are a way to restore these girls beauty inside and out. Show them that love is dope!