North Carolina hotspot for human trafficking
    August 23 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    While news reports, movies and documentaries spotlight sex tourism in Asia, the No. 1 destination for American men looking for sex with a child is — America.

    Speakers in a daylong awareness event about human trafficking Aug. 11 in Greenville for medical, social work and law enforcement workers reeled off a long list of similarly shocking statistics.

    With five interstate highways slicing through North Carolina, this state is well located for its earned reputation as a hotspot for human trafficking in both the sex and farm labor arenas.

    Knowledge of how far this trade in human beings reaches is only beginning to surface, due in part to the efforts of Pam Strickland, founder of the Eastern Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now coalition, and a member of Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville. She learned of the problem in a 2006 missions conference and has been motivated ever since to stop it.

    With its interstate system, immigration and labor intensive agricultural jobs, North Carolina is a ripe area for human trafficking, which is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion.

    BR photo by Norman Jameson

    Pam Strickland, founder of the Eastern Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now coalition, and a member of Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville, helped organize a human trafficking seminar.

    You see victims in restaurants and fields, in yards and processing plants. You don’t see them as domestic slaves or in brothels in neighborhoods much like your own. But they are there, enslaved by men who promised them transportation to America and good, honest work in exchange for a high fee.

    Life did not turn out that way and they instead find themselves strangers in a strange land; their documents confiscated; unable to speak the language; no money to flee and in debt to their handlers at levels they will never overcome.

    Human exploitation is Woman’s Missionary Union’s area of special study the next two years.

    Human trade has become more lucrative than drug trafficking, according to law enforcement officers at the conference. Drugs are sold and consumed.

    A human body can be resold many times and those who trade in human slave labor are said to profit by $32 billion annually.

    Even at just $30 a “trick” in a North Carolina brothel, a victim can earn $75,000 to $250,000 a year for her pimp. As many as 17,500 persons are trafficked into the U.S. each year and from 100,000 to 300,000 persons in the U.S. are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. That includes web based pornography.  

    You see them every day and don’t notice them, according to conference presenters. What are some signs that people are being held against their will, even though they are not physically restrained? Look for security measures around a house that don’t fit the neighborhood, like barbed wire designed to keep people in, not out.

    Does your foreign waiter’s name tag reflect a likely name from his or her country? State Trooper Mark Nichols, a member of New Bethel Baptist Church in Garner, said he was eating at a Chinese restaurant and his waitress had a French name and she had “not a clue” what her name was or what the word on her name tag meant.

    Are they working excessive hours with no time off? Do they have any knowledge of the surrounding area? Victims are kept moving so they cannot establish relationships in a particular area.

    Are they fearful, anxious, submissive?

    There are barriers to identifying and stopping trafficking, including the stereotypes about undocumented workers and women who have been prostituted. There are language and psychological challenges; fear, shame and self loathing by the victims; and lack of awareness of resources even by those who would like to help.

    If you suspect a person is a victim of human trafficking, call the hotline at (888) 373-7888. North Carolina has several rapid response teams that can move quickly when such human bondage is verified.

    The root cause for human trafficking is demand for cheap labor and for access to the bodies of women and children. Strickland said if there was no buyer, there would be no seller and consequently, no victims. Learn more at her web site

    We need to be talking about sex, pornography and human trafficking in church,” Strickland said. “We know that men who are behind selling and buying sex and pornography are sitting in the church pew.”  

    A large part of her drive is to decrease the vulnerability of children to being trafficked, as 300,000 American children have been forced into the sex trade. Runaways often end up in the trade, enticed and embraced by pimps who haunt youth shelters.  

    Sensuality only talent
    Girls everywhere are becoming sexualized because their main role models identify sexuality as their primary talent, not their intellect or spirit or work ethic or dependability.

    When sexuality runs into conflict with the law, as in the Super Bowl incident with Justin Timberlake aggressively ripping off Janet Jackson’s bustier, Jackson and the network were punished in the marketplace, but Timberlake was not.

    There is a double standard. Girls obviously too young to have chosen a life on the streets are arrested for prostituting, but their customers are too often told only to “go home to your wife.”

    One in five girls, and one in 10 boys will be sexually abused in the U.S., according to presenters. That doesn’t mean they will be raped, but it means they will endure unwanted sexual touch.

    A 2006 survey revealed an estimated 650,000 kids in the U.S. have exchanged sex for drugs or money. Many were “marketed” in their own homes before they ran away. Or they were abused by mom’s boyfriend, but he paid the rent so mama wouldn’t throw him out. Then the child had to use the only method she knew to survive once she hit the street.

    International human trade is shocking, but distant. Knowing that thousands of humans are in physical bondage in North Carolina is frightening because it is here, and it includes our children. The only way not to see signs of human trafficking in any community in North Carolina is simply not to look for it, said presenters.

    And the best person to help put a stop to it is anyone who will call the human trafficking hotline. 
    8/23/2010 7:36:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 5 comments

Jack Wolford
If the women get pregnant, guess where the babies go. Underground adoptions is an option and the infants can be cared for not in a shack on the bad side of town but a nice house where a women who never looked pregnant all of a sudden has a newborn.
8/24/2010 7:39:14 PM

Cara Lynn Vogel
Thanks for your affirmation of this new and very daunting ministry opportunity. Our Task Force will be meeting soon and I'll be glad to bring this juvenile justice ministry possibility to them.
We will be considering topics as far-reaching as queen bee bullying, domestic abuse, social media, human trafficking, misuse of land. We'll also be looking at responses from restoration ministries, domestic abuse responses, fair-trade and information to assist churches and individuals who desire to prevent exploitation.
Please keep checking the WMU NC website for information and please pray that we will be faithful to Christ's call to minister to the least of these.
8/24/2010 2:58:43 PM

Gene Scarborough

I cannot think of a more appropriate group to care than WMU!

[b]Blessings on you![/b]

Would you consider contacting every Juvenile Judge in every county in NC to offer help?

Part of the discussion in Greenville is that Juvenile Authorities are faced with a dilemma: [b]The children have committed a crime. Should we be compassionate OR go after the one holding their passport for ransome? It will be a hard case to prove in court.[/b]

[b]Or[/b] should we help this innocent little girl find freedom and love through a caring Juvenile Court System so overloaded it can't really deal with normal NC teens being rebelious and not going to school as they should???

They don't really know what to do and there is not enough money in a struggling tax-starved system to provide paid help with this new dimension to crime added on top of what is already here!
8/24/2010 1:38:52 PM

Cara Lynn Vogel
Thanks, BR, for covering this story.
As WMU NC prepares to address the social and moral issue of human exploitation (in all its many forms) through Project HELP, we realize that education regarding the issue is key in providing an opportunity for change.
North Carolina has such an opportunity with both the needs and the resources available.
That churches and individuals will accept that NC is a mission field and then respond in a Christ-like manner is our hope.
8/24/2010 11:00:37 AM

Gene Scarborough
I was at the meeting and was also amazed at what is happening in this country! It is a blight which needs stopping.

In 1968 I became the Baptist Chaplain to the Wake County Juvenile Court. I was titled "Director of Juvenile Rehabilitation" and sponsored by 3 entities: Raleigh Baptist Association / Home Mission Board / NCBSC in equal amounts. It was a part-time ministry while I was a student at SEBTS.

[b]What amazed me most in this meeting was a video summerizing this growing problem.[/b] Whereas, I heard stories of juvniles in detention in Wake County concerning things like robbery, running away, uncontrolled bahaviour at home, [b]now we hear sordid stories of runaways being sucked into child prostitution and pornography.[/b] Part of the video was located in Atlanta where the Juvenile Judge there was shown hugging a child and encouraging a better life. Atlanta is now another hot spot of Human Trafficing.

[b]This is delinquency on steroids! It bespeaks the moral decline of this country in the last 40 years. The church needs to do something![/b]

With the help of Judge Preston, an active layman at Raleigh First, we put together a program called [b]"Ministers Day in Court."[/b] Ministers of all denominations signed up on a 5X5 grid to be present as the day's "Minister in Court." Those who were extremely busy were encouraged to sign on the first or last set of blocks. Each month it was laid on top of the calendar month and between those committed for that day, at least 1 minister would be present.

The Judge apprised the courtroom of the minister's presence and invited any family which wanted to meet with him to use a side room for conversation. It was the ultimate goal to let the family know churches and ministers cared. Further, [b]it was hoped a church family might pair up with a troubled family in a mentoring relationship.[/b]

The Probation Staff was overwhelmed in 1968 and welcomed the help. It was working when I graduated in 1970, but had fallen off the map in a few years for lack of continued coordination. Something like this will always fall apart if churches don't continue to care and ministers become sidetracked by a busy schedule demanding their time with church members and meetings.

I encourage a re-institution of such programs as a help in stopping human trafficing. By law a child under age 16 is kept out of newspapers and the public eye. Therefore, few know how serious this problem is. It has been here all along. It was present in Atlanta when my father, Claude Scarborough, became the HMB's first Director of Juvenile Rehabilitation.

Thanks, dad, for starting it. I'm sorry this special service was consumed and lost under "Christian Social Ministries." It is time, once again, to activate help from church families to families in trouble today. Now it involves such insidious things as child prostitution and pornography along with drug dealing.

[b]Will anyone see the need and meet it in today's world???[/b]

I certainly hope so!!!
8/23/2010 5:25:40 PM

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