8.3.10

When tragedy hits close to home

Just over a week ago Chelsea King, a pretty straight A student from an upper middle class family, parked her car and went for a jog in a nearby park. She never came home. One week later her body was discovered in a shallow grave near the water's edge. It appears she was raped and murdered.

About one year ago 14 year old Amber Dubois went missing on her way to high school one morning. Her remains were also discovered this week. Her picture still looks out from every shop window. The trees downtown are still tied with tattered ribbons that beg, "Bring Amber Home."

Public outcry over these two girls has been what you would expect, vocal and warm. Helicopter searches, prayer vigils, networks of people banding together out of care and concern for these girls and their families. People wept when Chelsea's body was found. I know kids who went to school with her, her death has shocked them, as it has shocked many.

I can't imagine the anguish her parents have experienced. It's a pain I never want to know first hand. No one does. The sympathy, the support, the public way this has affected people is exactly what it ought to be over the life of a young girl so abruptly and violently ended. People are angry and sad and shocked that it could happen to someone so close to home.

I don't want to in any way diminish the pain and the response to such an occasion, but I can't help wondering. Would they care so much if she weren't a pretty white girl from an upper middle class family?

The average age of a prostitute in San Diego is 13. Often she is trafficked here from Mexico with the promise of love, or a good job. Or she's just kidnapped. I wonder where the search helicopters and prayer vigils are for them.

Where are the compassionate well intentioned people springing into action on behalf of little girls in Asia, 10 years old or younger, sold as sex slaves and raped repeatedly night after night until they die?

What is it about people that makes it possible to ignore such things until it happens in their own backyard?

Unless something is personal, it's easy to ignore. Unless you can imagine it happening to your own child, friend, sister, neighbor, it doesn't seem real.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think the response to this tragedy is anything other than what it ought to be. This should be how people react. I just think that every girl who is raped and sold and killed should get the same response, the same reaction. They could all be our own daughters, sisters, friends.

There are girls out there who aren't dead yet, who need the rallying force of people who care. Will they get it? Will they be saved? Will enough people care enough to take action? Or will they go back behind their comfortable middle class walls and community gates when the shock wears off and forget, or try to forget, and ignore the fact that this kind of thing happens every day, to girls all over the world and just a few miles away. They may be less photogenic or newsworthy, not straight A students or from the right demographic, but aren't they worth remembering all the same?

Want to do something for a girl, right now?

Here are a few places that work constantly to keep girls safe and out of the sex trade.

The Charis Project-We have homes for at risk orphaned children in Thailand where they can grow up in safety, and never be sold. Children are sold all the time in Thailand.

Compasio-Safe homes for street children in Mae Sot and homes for prison babies.


Hope for the Nations Thailand-Safe houses for unmarried girls who are pregnant. They teach them a trade and give them the skills to raise their babies and be single parents in a culture where it is especially hard.

Love146-Rescue and rehabilitation homes for girls who used to be prostitutes.

International Justice Mission-They work with local law enforcement to run sting operations on brothels and pimps in countries where law enforcement is overwhelmed by the problem of child prostitution.

Not for Sale- More than 80,000 people are trafficked through the US every year.

You can educate people. Most aren't aware that it happens. No it isn't polite conversation, not something people are comfortable talking about over dinner. It should make people uncomfortable. We should never be able to hear such news without squirming and being moved by it. I refuse to believe that most people are cold enough to do nothing once they really know, and know there is something they can do. But how will they understand if no one tells them? Until it becomes your daughter that you imagine in that position, your sister, your niece, your neighbors kid, it's something far away, distant, and unreal. You and I can help to make it personal and relevant, and motivate people to do something and change things. I believe that. I have to.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you Carrien,
    you are absolutly right! This is a subject most of us will not talk about. It is unconfortable and unbelieveable. For some maybe even embarresing. NO ONE should have to live their life in fear. thank you for sharing this with us, and reminding us that we are all entitled to a happy & safe life!
    Paula/Colorado

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  2. breaks. my. heart. Oh, those precious little girls. So sad.

    Thank you for speaking and working on their behalf.

    I want to think that I am doing all I can, having adopted 6 kids and sponsored 3 others through Compassion. But I'm probably not.

    Mary, mom to 10

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  3. Mary-I wonder the same thing every day.

    In the end I realize I can only do so much. But imagine if everyone were to do something. I can keep telling the story, and add to the number of people who will act and do as much as they can. That has a chance of changing something. I think.

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  4. The kids and I watched Very Young Girls together about a month ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fX6EaHuRCg This might not be for everyone, but I wanted my girls to know the truth about what happens to kids, good kids, that get lured away or taken or run away. I want them to be wise, and not easily conned. I have also taught them what I learned helping to teach classes at Impact Personal Safety. We can fight back!
    I think you make a good point. I honestly don't think most people know that 13 year olds are prostitutes. We are so shielded and unaware. It is good to know, and even better to help. I wonder how my family will. Something to pray about.

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  5. Anonymous6:10 AM

    It would be wonderful if we could rescue the whole world. But we can't. Thus we each must take care of our own acre, and as we are able lend a hand with the adjoining acres--the neighbors in our own personal neighborhoods and villages. If everyone would take care of his own, the world would be a better place. But because they won't..there will always be pain, loss and suffering. Thinking that we can rescue the whole world is folly. Instead we do what we can with the acre God has given us...and pray for those we are unable to assist physically. I'm not opposed to giving financial aid and support--but I want the dollars God blesses me with to go to help those in my immediate area. The saying that 'charity begins at home' is based, imo, on the Biblical teaching that states "a man who doesn't provide for his own is worse than an infidel".

    Wherever God has planted a person is the field he needs to work in.

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  6. thank you for talking about this. its so true, we need to be heartbroken for EVERY girl who is hurt, abused, abandoned. i will definitely be looking at the links you shared.

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  7. Anonymous-No, we can't save the whole world. BUt we can try, and in trying we will save a whole lot more than if we never tried at all.

    I appreciate the intent behind your words though I think it's a bit naive to define one's "Own field" in strictly geographical terms. We can't escape the global nature of our interactions. Most of what you buy was manufactured somewhere else. That cotton T-shirt at Target has been through at least 3 countries before it got to you and at at least one stop along the way it was probably worked by someone with terrible working conditions and unfair wages. In the case of cotton it's almost impossible that slave labor was not involved at some point in the journey. Unless everything you buy was made in your own back yard your dollars and purchasing choices are a participation of the global exploitation of the poor. It is in situation where the work of the poor is exploited that children are most vulnerable and most at risk of being trafficked. So right there your acre is a great deal larger than you may have realized.

    You have more power than most people in the world do, just by virtue of being someone who lives in the first world. Where there is famine and an entire generation dead of aids I wonder who you think will tend that particular acre full of orphans and not enough adults or food to help? You are lucky enough to live in an acre that has resources, would you really leave someone somewhere else in an acre with no resources to fend for themselves. How is that even conceivable?

    However, I understand you heart to do something locally and address the problems in your own community. So here are a few places I can suggest that you start. Child trafficking happens in schools in every single state, on both sides of the tracks. See this article here. The most vulnerable children are those who don't have a permanent home. Have you considered becoming a foster parent in your area, or adopting a child out of foster care. The numbers of children in the US alone who need a home and a family to love them are staggering. It's a much larger commitment than making a donation to an international charity, so I applaud you in your desire to do something for your own acre and take care of those children in it who are in need. I'm sure you will find much to set your hands to where you are. I'm sure we all can.

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  8. Here in the SF Bay area, specifically the east bay/Oakland area, we don't actually have reliable numbers on how many kids are currently domestically trafficked. That is to say, under the current incarnation of the human trafficking law, any underage person sold for sex. It's in the thousands. The thing is they aren't from somewhere else. They are from 42nd street, Down Town, International Avenue, etc.....By and large they are not white. By and large they are poor. By and large.....no one cares. A quick search of Craig's List in the area of Oakland with key words like "barely legal", "High school whores", etc...will get you pictures and pimp's contact number. Within the hour and for less than $100 you can get just about anything you want depending how desperate the pimp is for his next hit. She will be under at most 15. She will be addicted to something. She will not have wanted this and she will not have any way out at the risk of her mom or brother getting gunned down, or her sister ending up in the same situation.

    Check your local Craig's Listings and you will likely find somewhat the same on offer, especially if you are in an urban center, any urban center from San Diego to San Antonio. This is very much a local issue. This is very much happening in our acre. If it's not, then it's close by. This is closer to home than most people would be comfortable with if they knew, and those who have been told tend to be bothered to the point of avoiding the subject. It is just easier to ignore, especially if the kid is hanging with gang bangers. If they would look again, they would see it is a little more complicated than that. It's a pimp and his forced, underage dope whore.

    Then again, it has to be confronted anywhere for it to be ended everywhere. The criminal gangs who traffick kids domestically got their start selling heroine which came from somewhere else. No one around here owns a poppy field. Those are somewhere else, and there are slaves working on them too. This is bigger than our backyard. This is bigger than our country. This is the world. It belongs to all of us and is thus all of our responsibility. What that actually looks like and how we actually take responsibility differs from person to person and skill set to skill set. It doesn't go away if you don't look at it. It won't go away unless people of high purpose assume what is their calling and their right. And that is to rule.

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  9. thanks for the wakeup, both to you and to "an experiment."

    i knew a little...used to spend enough time in Thailand to suspect more than i liked...but am back in smalltown eastern Canada now and have built internal walls i tend to ignore around this naive, sheltered existence.

    my field is, as a result, fairly open. Thailand and Oakland are both other worlds. both worthy of me looking into. what dollars i can give will go wherever there is a structure to help.

    there is no perfect way to help, no fix, no cure all. but like you, i think trying - and more than anything, refusing to look away - matters.

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  10. Thanks for sharing about the different organizations that you can donate to - I know some of them, and they are doing awesome works.

    It is true, more is made out of cute little white girls than others. There were 500 killed in Nigeria this past weekend and that didn't even hit the news.

    We need to connect..... regarding a donation!

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