Friday, January 14, 2011

The Playground movie

Tonight I went and saw the Playground, at the Palace Theater in downtown Grapevine. It's a documentary by a woman named Libby Spears, and it's executive producers include George Clooney and Steven Soderburgh. The movie was put on by my church both in November and tonight, and all I can say after watching it is "wow". Throughout the movie, throughout the pain and sadness of what I was watching, I just kept thinking "ok, is it time for Jesus to come back yet??" I would like to say I am an aware person in this world. I watch, read, and listen to the news on a regular basis. I get my news from several sources, liberal and conservative, and I am well read. And I know bad things are happening in this world, but this movie opened my eyes to things I could not have imagined happening, much less happening in my backyard. So here is what I took away tonight, and by the end I want to show why this is relevent to DFW, TX.

According to wikipedia human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual explotation or forced labor: a modern-day form of slavery. I am going to be talking about sexual trafficking tonight. At least 1.3 Million children are trafficked each year in the world. 100,000 (with an estimated 200,000-300,000 children at risk) U.S. children are forced into pornography or prostitution annually. Many of these children are taken or are runaways, but some are sold by parents or relatives. This is happening in the US, not just Cambodia, Thailand, or some other foreign country, children are being bought and sold. An estimated 1.6 million children run away from home each year in the US, the average time it takes for a trafficker or solicitor to approach them is 48 hours. 70-90% of sexually exploited children have a history of abuse. The USA is giving money and resources to help children in other countries to get out of this, and next to nothing to bring our own kids out of it. In fact, our laws make it worse, not better. Most teens that are being forced into this life are arrested and charged with prostitution instead of being helped and seen as the victim they are. Our laws are not conducive to helping the exploited children get help and get out of this hell.

1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys have been sexually abused. This is the statistic that hit me the hardest. Think about how many kids you know, and this how this statistic could play out in those numbers. ouch.

So locally, what does this look like? Well, they believe that 25% of all people trafficked through the US each year come through Texas. I believe the estimate is that 25% of calls to the National Sex Trafficking Hotline (1888-373-7888) are from Texas and 15% of those are from the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. Around 20,000 women and children are trafficked for major sports events, like the upcoming Super Bowl. And they believe that around 15% of those brought will be abandoned and left here to fend for themselves after the Super Bowl is over.

So what do we do? How can we help? I don't know if I have the answers, but I have some places to start.

The signs that someone is being trafficked from the Traffick 911 website:

  • Scripted answers.
  • Inconsistencies in story.
  • Branding or tattoos, especially that reflect ownership or money.
  • Bruising, including handprints or thin marks like an extension cord or wire. Varied stages of healing with black, purple, blue, yellow shades.
  • Coming on to several men.
  • Appears helpless, shamed, nervous.
  • Malnourished.
  • Inability or fear to make eye contact.
  • Chronic runaway; homeless youth.
  • Dating much older, abusive or controlling man.
  • Not attending school or has numerous school absences.
  • Clothes that say, “Daddy’s girl” or inappropriate for weather.

On its own, one of these signs might not indicate trafficking, but 2-3 together are a good indication. The average life expectancy for a child forced into sexual slavery is 7 years. Don’t wait. Call 911 and the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1.888.373.7888, if you suspect something. It’s better to be wrong than not to report it. A life might just depend on it.

Other good websites to be aware of (and my resources for most of my statistics and information): (this is a local agency here is Dallas)

Also, there is an event coming up at Irving Bible Church called "It's Not My Fault" on January 28th at 7pm. And Urban Dog Coffee in Dallas is hosting a few events to help educate people and to raise money for New Friends New Life, check out their website for more info.

Sorry if this was just way to much, but I had to get it out of my head and pass it on. Please do something to help, please make yourself and others aware of the reality of this situation. This is real, and it is happening all around us.

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