Detroit is 158 miles from my front door. This isn’t a post about the bankruptcy. Or about government bailouts.
This is about how, over the weekend, 10 children were rescued from human trafficking. In Detroit. In all, over the course of the weekend, 105 children in the United States were rescued. 150 traffickers arrested.
When you see the words human trafficking, I want you to think of the word slavery.
And these 105 children were rescued from unimaginable slavery. They were abused. Raped. Dehumanized. These children were reportedly between the ages of 13 and 16 (according to CNN).
In the state of Michigan, a child 16 or under is unable to make a decision to have sex with anyone (see the statutory rape laws here). This was not their choice.
These 105 children were being raped by men several times a day.
And, now, they’re out of that situation. My hope is that they are receiving medical attention as well as psychological and emotional help.
My fear is that my state, particularly Detroit, is ill equipped to handle the situation.
Often, the youngest victims of human trafficking in the United States are criminalized. Put in juvenile detention where matters usually get worse. Or in foster homes that are not appropriate for their very specific needs.
According to The Manasseh Project, 80% of trafficking victims have been sexually abused in their past. They’re runaways…I’m sure they have something pretty awful that they’re running from. They’re what are called ‘throwaways’…they’ve been kicked out, rejected by their families. Some of them even struggle with gender identity, which makes them extremely vulnerable and looking for someone who will love them…and a pimp can be very convincing.
These kids aren’t criminals. They’re in need of help.
And, whether you believe it or not, they are in your community. Yes. Even the “safe” ones.
They need help.
And you can help them.
Let me tell you.
1. Learn: The Manasseh Project website has a list of resources. Go on over there and find the links. Read about trafficking in your community. Find a way to watch the documentary, ‘Very Young Girls’. Scroll through Faces Of Prostitution, remembering that each picture is a person who was made in the image of God.
2. Write: Your government representatives rely on your vote. Most will do just about anything to get it. If you and a whole bunch of your friends and neighbors write to them, demanding action on the behalf of trafficking victims, they will listen. Traffickers should be prosecuted. Johns (the customers) should spend time in jail for rape, not solicitation. Victims need rehabilitation.
3. Give: Find an organization that is working to end human trafficking and give your money to them. Even little bits, over time, add up to make a huge difference. My personal favorite is The Manasseh Project here in Grand Rapids. They are reputable, qualified, and responsible with the gifts they receive.
4. Prevent: We will never end human trafficking if we don’t prevent it. And you can play a part in this by volunteering as a tutor, mentor, youth group leader. Show kids that they are worth real love and instill in them a little confidence. Give them a place to come for help. Kids who feel alone are more likely to become victims. This includes parenting with love and understanding. Make your home a place of emotional safety. And boundaries. But never with the option of disowning them. They need you. Even teens need their parents.
Slavery is real. It is everywhere. It is demolishing lives in every community around the world.
Hope is even more powerful.
Acting justly means standing up for those who are weaker, powerless. Doing the right thing for them.
Loving mercy means caring about their future enough to provide for them, pray for them, help them.
Walking humbly with God means knowing that your life isn’t more important than anyone else’s. Knowing that we are called to do that which serves God, not ourselves. Protecting the innocent serves God. Caring for the least of these serves God. And knowing that we can’t do that without His grace.