This article was authored by Kelly Singleton, Director of Community Impact, Treasured Vessels Foundation.
If all it took was one phone call to save a life, would you do it?
If you saw an accident happen right in front of you, you would probably call 911. Just as alert as we are to accidents around us, we must also become alert to the realities of sex trafficking.
Could you be the one?
Human Trafficking, by definition in Texas, is the illegal trade of human beings as it occurs in the state of Texas. Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion in exchange for something of value.
A study conducted in 2016 by the Attorney General’s office found there are 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in Texas at any given time. That’s a huge number to break down, but what we do know is that 400 underage minors are being trafficked on a daily basis in Dallas.
The Attorney General’s office of Texas put together an informative video on human trafficking specific to Texas called “Be The One.” It shares powerful stories all around our major cities of San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas of those who choose to be “The One” and save lives of children and adults who were victims of human trafficking.
Whether it’s next door, down the street or a community over, we have the chance to help fight sex trafficking by being aware and knowing the red flags of human trafficking.
What are the red flags of human trafficking?
Red flags of human trafficking:
- Signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
- Unexplained absences from class
- Less appropriately dressed than before
- Sexualized behavior
- Overly tired in class
- Withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked out
- Brags about making or having lots of money
- Displays expensive clothes, accessories or shoes
- New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims. Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate trafficking)
- Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle
- Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
- Shows signs of gang affiliation (ie: a preference for specific colors, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)
Although this list is not exhaustive, it’s a good place to start. Whether you’re a neighbor, school administrator, community member, parent, or friend, we all have the power to be the one voice to save a life.
Pay attention. Don’t wait. Also, don’t approach a dangerous situation by yourself. Call 911 for an emergency situation or the National Human Trafficking Hotline 888-373-7888 to report what you saw.
A picture, car details, license plate and details of what you saw can be the one in helping a victim of sex trafficking. Even if you aren’t sure, be the one to speak up.
Someone’s baby, someone’s daughter, or someone’s son could be in danger and we have the opportunity to help BE THE ONE.
What happens after a human trafficking victim is rescued?
Currently, there are zero beds available for minors and youth victims of exploitation and sex trafficking to get long term therapy and healing. It takes around 6-9 months for someone to recognize they were even a victim of trafficking, then healing can take place around 12-24 months.
Treasured Vessels Foundation is currently building a long-term residential treatment community in the form of tiny homes in North Texas for youth and minors.
We recently expanded our reach to include youth and will be serving 9-24 year old’s. Our doors are set to open by August 2020 as Phase 1 of healing and hope.
Will you “Be The One?” We encourage you to take the time to watch this video so that you know how to help children who are in danger.
If you would like to know more about how you can volunteer or become a part of our solution to break the cycle, visit us online for more information.