Six hundred children a year are rescued from sex trafficking in the United States. Six hundred vulnerable children who were assaulted, abused, and scarred for life, but these 600 are the “fortunate” ones – they were eventually rescued. The FBI estimates that there are tens of thousands of children sold for sex each year in the U.S. alone.
In an interview with the BBC, Joseph Campbell of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division stated: “The level of pedophilia is just unprecedented right now. We have so many cases constantly of individuals in all walks of life, from the very wealthy … to all other levels engaged in child pornography, child exploitation … it just seems to be almost at an epidemic level.”
That epidemic reaches into our own government. Last year Daniel Payne, the director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Service, stated that the“amount of child porn” on government computers and devices “is just unbelievable.”
As just one example, in 2015, the U.S. State Department’s Director of Counter-terrorism, Daniel Rosen, was arrested for computer solicitation of a child under 15 years old for sex.
When even a Homeland Security inspector, Georg Hristovski, was arrested for soliciting a mother to “sell” her young daughter, it’s no wonder that Special Agent John Reynolds, also with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said“the incidence of child sexual exploitation has reached staggering proportions.”
In one sting operation in Southern California last year, 238 child sex predators were arrested – among them were community leaders, entertainers, white collar professionals, a Buddhist monk, and a man who traveled from Australia to buy a six-year-old boy.
So-called “sex tourism” where men travel to other countries to prey on children and women is rampant. Major sporting events such as the Olympics, World Cup, and the Super Bowl are also huge draws for traffickers.
Slavery did not end in the 19th century. Human trafficking of children and women is so widespread both in the United States and around the world, that it is estimated that there are more people enslaved today than 200 years ago when slavery was legal.
This is not just a third world issue. Not only is this taking place in the United States, but the U.S. is a major exporter of child exploitation. Lifesite News reports: “According to Europol, the Europe-wide police investigative agency, half of all servers distributing child sex abuse are located in the U.S.” Lifesite went on to report that in 2014 there were 2,048 websites in the U.S. trading in images of child sexual assault. In 2015, Europol reported that U.S. child sex abuse websites increased to 2,617 — far greater than any other country. It’s estimated that 80,000 children had been trafficked to produce these images.
My home state of Michigan has one of the highest rates of sex trafficking. Last year the Ingham County Prosecutor who had served as the county’s chief law enforcement officer for 19 years was charged with multiple sex crimes. As the Detroit Free Press reported: thousands of women and girls are quietly, sometimes violently, manipulated and abused into selling their bodies for sex every year… “I assure you, it’s not a victimless crime,” said Dr. LaClaire Bouknight, a Lansing physician and chairwoman of the Capital Area Anti-Trafficking Alliance. “Many of the pimps are very violent. They’re controlling the women with drugs, threats, threats to harm their families,… It’s not a happy life. It’s not a Julia Roberts story.”
While the national media turns a blind eye to this epidemic, follow local news coverage and its common to see reports of minors, young children, even infants being sexually assaulted. Just a few headlines from recent days prove that point.
- “Chicago teen repeatedly sexually assaulted on Facebook Live” 3.21.17
- “Oklahoma State Senator Charged with Engaging in Child Prostitution” 3.15.17
- “Tennessee Teacher Accused of Abducting Missing 15-year-old Girl” 3.21.17
“Baby Laylah was ‘probably’ sexually abused - Court records reveal disturbing allegations about what happened to a Newaygo 14-month-old before she died.”2.22.17
Each one is a life destroyed. This is not an easy subject to write about or read about. It’s horrific. Yet it cannot be ignored. Not only is it an epidemic, it’s also symptomatic of a culture that has abandoned Biblical truth. Each of these headlines could be ripped from the pages of the closing chapters of the book of Judges where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) For all of our sophistication, the evil that typified Sodom and Gomorrah still prevails today.
While we most definitely need increased law enforcement and media attention to combat the plague of sex trafficking, such horrors will only end when Christ reigns in the human heart. We need action and we need prayer that God will bring about repentance in our nation.
There are wonderful organizations working to bring awareness to this concern and aid the victims of human trafficking. They offer ways you and I can help and become involved in fighting this evil. Among them are the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Women at Risk, International (based in Grand Rapids, MI).
To support our efforts please click here or mail your gift to American Decency Association (ADA), PO Box 202, Fremont, MI 49412.
American Decency Association is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.