It’s the kind of story we don’t like to write about but it would be irresponsible not to report on the human trafficking of our young girls right here in The Bronx.
Last summer, Councilman Andy King held a press conference regarding 14 missing girls from The Bronx and hinted at human trafficking being to blame but within a few days, we found out that 11 of the fourteen girls had returned home or had been found.
Sadly, it appears that Councilman King was right despite the erroneous report of the previous missing girls.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark reported that her office is cracking down and taking these missing young women seriously most of which are Latina or African American.
News 12 The Bronx reports:
Clark says her office currently has 34 pending cases involving 53 defendants and 27 open investigations involving what she calls “modern day slavery.”
“It could be as simple as someone right here in the Bronx, a troubled teen that ran away and gets involved with the wrong people, who move to exploit them and take away their freedom,” Clark told News 12 The Bronx.
According to Psychology Today, 200,000 youths are estimated to be sexually exploited a year right here in America from an estimate of 244,000-325,000 American youths at risk for such exploitation and:
Domestic trafficking victims are often young girls—even as young as 10 or 11 years old—who are desperate to find someone who will love and take care of them. Traffickers are masters at manipulating and exploiting at-risk girls. These traffickers, who can be regarded as pimps, groom their victims, gaining their trust and loyalty by preying upon their vulnerabilities and showering them with praise or even gifts. Many times, the girls who become victims believe that their trafficker loves them, will stay with them, and even protect them from the law. The victims are eager to believe their traffickers’ assurances that they are a “couple.” Soon, the victims are coerced into having sex with strangers for money that their “boyfriends” keep for themselves.
“An FBI agent was interviewing a pimp, and so he said, ‘Where do you find your girls?’ He said, ‘I go to a shopping mall, and I look around for a girl who’s by herself. I say, ‘You know, you have really pretty eyes.’ And if she looks him back in the face and says, ‘Well, thanks!,’ he said, ‘I just keep going.’ And if she looks down at her feet and says, ‘No, I don’t,’ he said, ‘I know I’ve got her.'”
The most important way to prevent traffickers from finding new victims is ensuring that our girls value themselves. It is critical to promote young girls’ self-esteem and to make sure they know about the recruitment strategies of traffickers. We also have to ensure that there are resources and services available to at-risk youth who have already left home. We must let these girls know that there are people that care about them and organizations that can offer them help.
We will continue to keep you updated as more develops from this story, in the meantime, hug your children, your daughters and speak with them on the issue.