Lured Away?

Of late there’s been a lot of talk about missing teens and the fact that they’re most often categorized as “runaways.” Some people see this term as pejorative or dismissive. It’s apparent that many people visualize Opie with a bundle and stick over his shoulder in Mayberry when it should be apparent that a runaway can be in as much danger as a child who has been abducted.

I tried to explain this to a group on Facebook, but when I tried to explain that most of the missing girls in D.C. are runaways they accused me of being dismissive. Nothing is further from the truth, but when they claimed that the states get $72,000 per child, I quickly realized they had no idea what they were talking about and moved on. More the fool I, given that I swore no more arguing with folk on social media. I’m too old for that crap. So, I’m posting this here from the perspective of someone who has professional experience with this population.

For the sake of clarity I’m going to hit a few random bullets of issues that come up repeatedly when this discussion is occurring. Since my area of expertise is teenagers, I’ll limit this post to them. Younger children are a whole other discussion.

  • Amber Alerts can ONLY be issued when there’s evidence that a child has been abducted. They’re not issued every time a child goes missing, there are criteria to be met. This is skewed more toward younger kids, because they’re unlikely to decamp of their own accord.
  • Some states will not take a missing persons report on people over a certain age (this varies depending on state) unless there’s evidence that the person did not leave on their own.
  • Generally missing teens are found within 24/48 hours usually with friends or family members.

In general, children do not run away from stable, safe environments. With chronic runaways there’s almost always some type of abuse occurring in the home. Of course, there are exceptions, but kids don’t run for no reason.

Most of the time if a teen girl is missing there’s a male, usually an adult involved. Girls run away more than boys, probably because of being lured by men. Boys don’t run as often, but when they do, they run farther and it can be more random. This is especially true of white males.

So, as you can see there’s certainly plenty of danger involved when a child runs away. It’s nothing something to dismiss, which is why I think we should consider using the term “lured away,” at least when we know or suspect that a child might have been targeted, and almost all of them are. If not initially, certainly within hours or days of being on the street. It’s so pervasive that these predators will actually set up “shop” near group homes so they can prey on girls in foster care.

And that’s another issue that must be acknowledged, most of the teens who do go missing in this country are in foster care. Law enforcement generally can’t mention that because of HIPAA regulations. Foster care is literally a bullet train into commercial rape for many young girls. This goes back to a post I made a while back about sex trafficking and how prevalent it is.

Now that I’ve depressed you out of your mind, I can think of certain measures we can take to address these issues.

  • Strengthen families and provide services and support to keep children in intact homes.
  • If children do have to leave their families of origin work hard to maintain a “kin first” model.
  • Provide support to our foster care system so we can have more and better foster homes so children don’t have to go in group homes.
  • Use better terminology liked “lured away,” and carefully explain the dangers of the street to people so they understand runaway is not a trivial issue.

That Word Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

sextrafficking055_jpg_775x525_q85

And what word is that word? Sex Trafficking. Think about it. When you hear the word sex trafficking, do you think about some poor girl in a foreign country forced by her circumstances into porn/prostitution commercial rape? I’ll bet you do, because that’s the image we’ve been fed, essentially forever. Did you know that commercial rape is a 9.5 BILLION dollar a year industry in THIS COUNTRY? Did you know the average victim age is 13-14? Did you know that one in three teen runaways will be lured into commercial rape within 48 hours of leaving home? These aren’t poor kids “over there,” you know in those fucked up countries where something bad is always happening. Nope, this is right here in the United States.

Top Twenty Cities for Human Trafficking

Houston
• El Paso
• Los Angeles
• Atlanta
• Chicago
• Charlotte
• Miami
• Las Vegas
• New York
• Long Island
• New Orleans
• Washington, D.C.
• Philadelphia
• Phoenix
• Richmond
• San Diego• San Francisco
• St Louis
• Seattle
• Tampa

Were you surprised by any of those? Richmond? Seriously? Charlotte? Who’da thunk? Yeah, there are some surprises there, for those who aren’t paying attention. I live in Atlanta. I can leave my house right now and find a prostituted girl in less than thirty minutes. I bet you could too, if you’re paying attention.

Of course, it’s easy to dismiss prostitution, after all, most people don’t buy sex, or do they? What about the other arm of commercial rape? That which we call porn. I won’t go into all lamentations about the horrors of porn, after all, we know them, don’t we? We know that most of the women participating in commercial rape have been sexually abused and are addicted to one or more drugs and/or alcohol. But there’s that little word, consent. Oh yes. They consent. So let’s talk about consent, shall we? Can someone who has been beaten, raped and strung out on drugs, really consent to anything? What about the notion that commercial rape is just like any other job? We even use that despicable euphemism, sex work, as though commercial rape could ever be defined in such a way. Even a despised employer like Wal-Mart couldn’t get away with treating their workers the way women in commercial rape are treated. What if Wal-Mart took advantage of dope sick workers and forced them to work in violation of acceptable work standards? Yeah, Wal-Mart’s been boycotted to hell and back for considerably less.

And you might say, oh, it’s just sex. Have you looked at porn lately? I know I hadn’t, and it has been an eye-opening experience. Did you know that 40% of commercial rape videos feature ATM. What’s ATM? Trust it has nothing to do with a cash machine, it’s ass-to-mouth. In other words, anal sex followed by fellatio with no washing in between. Does that sound like “just sex” to you? Could Wal-Mart force their workers to literally eat shit? Do I have to tell you how lethal such a practice can be? Is there any employer in this country who could get away with such a thing?  I would say, no. Yet, this is routine in today’s video commercial rape. Why is that okay?

Things that used to be ‘fringe” are mainstream in a way you could not imagine. Almost all video commercial rape features violence, some of it extreme violence. Such as deliberately ejaculating in a woman’s eyes. I just want you think about how painful, not to mention dangerous such an activity can be. And think about the person who is sitting at home masturbating to such a visual. Do you want to be within a hundred yards of such a person? I know damned well I wouldn’t. After all, they wouldn’t make this if it wasn’t profitable. The producers of commercial rape videos are very clear on the fact that they make these videos for men who hate women. That the typical consumer is getting revenge for all the women he couldn’t have. And let us not forget, these women are raped, brutalized and drug-addled in the extreme.

Now back to that word sex trafficking. The typical sex trafficking victim in this country isn’t from some godforsaken foreign place. They’re typically from neighborhoods like yours and mine. We can’t dismiss this as something that’s somebody else’s problem. We have to make a decision, what do we care more about, our children or a porn sick freak’s ability to beat off to violence and debasement?  We can no longer dismiss this as something that happens to other people, or buy into claims that it’s “sex work” and the myth of consent. That dialogue only benefits the rapists and the procurers, nobody else. It certainly doesn’t help prostituted women and children.  You may choose to ignore the issue, but  you can no longer say you didn’t know.