This headline griped me earlier this month: ” Chicago man gets 22 years in prison after luring teen girls into sex via Facebook, promising cash.” Traffickers use our everyday habits to lure young girls into relationships and then make false promises. Promises like, “I will love and care for you” or “I will protect you and give you all that you need” or “Trust me and I can make a name for you.” Abusers are able to pinpoint a young girl’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and then go for a direct hit to that wound. We see it with every woman we’ve met through Naomi’s House. And because of how easy it is for strangers to interact with our kids in our very own homes, traffickers recruit every single day through tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
I’m asked all the time, “How can I prevent my daughter from being lured into sex trafficking?” I love that question because it shows the deep care and concern we have for our girls. I think we all agree that we want our daughters to flourish and live out the destiny that God intends for them. And clearly when a young girl is abused and victimized, it is life altering. I wish a home like Naomi’s House didn’t have to exist – I wish the demand for sex trafficking would become extinct so that our girls would no longer be considered “supply.” This is the cry of our hearts at Naomi’s House, and together we need to ask God to equip us to answer the question How do we prevent this?
As much as I wish I had a simple answer for prevention, let me attempt to narrow down what I’ve learned from actual survivors of sex trafficking:
- Parents, pastors, teachers, leaders have the power to influence our young girls and boys with a message that says “you are valued just because you are you.” We have the privilege to speak words of life and truth into our young people that build them up and empower them to stand firm on their own self-worth and dignity. Through Jesus we are 100% restored to God, and His love for us knows no end. That is the message we must share with our children, starting from day one.
- We need to work as a community to decrease vulnerabilities for those living in the margins. Homelessness, drug addiction, and lack of access to education are just some of the vulnerabilities that lure people into relationships with abusers who promise a different life for those who are struggling. We can all do something to address these issues in our communities. If you aren’t aware of these problems in and around your community, I challenge you to look more closely.
- We have to work through our own insecurities. If we don’t believe that we are valued and worthy in God’s eyes, how can we authentically pass that message on to our kids? Working through our own traumas, wounds, hurts, and misunderstandings is essential in order to equip the next generation to live a life of freedom in Christ and be strong against the abusers and evildoers of our culture today.
- Lastly, pay attention to what our kids are doing, watching, discussing, and dabbling in. I’m learning as a parent that there is a fine line between giving our kids the freedom to make choices and learn from natural consequences and protecting them from those who are out to hurt and destroy them. Pressing into conversation with our kids and teenagers, whether we like it or not (they will definitely not like it!) is actually building boundaries around them that will protect them. To know is to love.
This week, would you pause to pray for the women at Naomi’s House? Each one comes from a place where her value as a young person was either neglected or abused. At a young age, their brains suffered from traumatic experiences that derailed their development, leading to a life full of abuse and further neglect. But what we see when women come through our program is their true selves restored and hope found for their future. Through our many resources and the power of the gospel, the women at NH can dream about their futures again and start to walk by faith. It is simply the most beautiful transformation we can witness. The darker someone’s past, the brighter the light of Christ shines through.
With hope and love,