question markHave you ever seen a pimp? Probably not that you know of, but pimps come in all shapes and sizes. You could walk right by one and not know it. I’ve come across cases where pimps have been family members, menwomen, couples, gangs, and even classmates. Pimps don’t walk around wearing a t-shirt that says,

I’m a pimp and I plan to sell your body ten to thirty times a night to be raped and I’ll keep all the money.”

They also don’t have horns growing out of their head. They look like your average person. They blend in with the crowd. It is why we have to teach our children to be alert and pay attention to their surroundings.

We cannot shelter our children from this evil in our world and to try simply makes them vulnerable. We must take time to talk with them about the issue of sex trafficking and the ways pimps operate.

How? How can we possibly know? Most of the front line organizations that work with survivors have gained insight into how the Game, as it is sometimes called, is played from those who have been rescued from it. Girls who have escaped the sex trade have shared how they were lured into the life as well as others they’ve encountered. In doing so, they’ve educated law enforcement and front line organizations on techniques used. As I interviewed survivors for my book, Rescuing Hope, I learned of a variety of approaches but they all fall into one of three categories.

Victims are taken into the trade through force, fraud or coercion.

Force is exactly what you think of when you hear the word. Someone is physically taken against their will. This is displayed in the movie Taken. Many people assume this is how all trafficking victims are taken and walk around with a false sense of security because they’re unaware of the more likely approaches.

Fraud is the old fashioned bait and switch. A girl is promised one thing only to learn she’s getting another. I’ve worked with survivors who were promised modeling jobs only to learn they weren’t modeling at all. Others who have been asked to a party but when they arrived at the party they discovered it  was a prearranged gang rape and the host was a pimp.

Coercion is where you see the Romeo pimp show up. He poses as a boyfriend. After he secures his victim’s love and devotion he has a desperate need and he asks the victim to turn a trick just this once but it isn’t once. It’s over and over and over.

We teach our children to avoid strangers when they’re young. They’ve all heard the phrase Stranger Danger, but there is a growing trend of luring unsuspecting victims through the internet. The internet is a place where people let their guard down. Those who would never tell private information to a perfect stranger reveal it all the time on social media platforms, because after all, the people they interact with on social media are their friends….or are they?

Just because a social media site calls someone a friend doesn’t make them one.

Other sites call them followers and that may be a little more accurate. Pimps will pose as a younger version of themselves or possibly even pose as a young female to gain trust, to gain access to information and to establish a relationship with an unsuspecting person. Once they’ve established a relationship, they will suggest they meet. A young person doesn’t view the meeting as connecting with a complete stranger. This is their friend, right?

1 Peter 5:8 says,

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Could that someone be your child? Could that someone be you? It’s time to start the conversation about sex trafficking and how it takes place here, not just in our country but in our own backyard. We cannot afford to wait for our child or the young person we love to reach high school to breech the subject. If we wait until then, it might be too late.

The average age of entry into the sex trade is 12- 14 for girls and 11- 13 for boys. We need to educate our children before this happens. Make them alert. Make them aware. Raise your voice for hope!