Nelda talks with George Lynch of Traffick911 about Helping Trafficking Victims
Nelda talks with George Lynch of Traffick911
In This Episode
After three years of suffering as a victim of sexual slavery, a fifteen-year-old girl was set free. She had come from a loving family. Her parents’ rules had been reasonable. But predators found her through social media. Three years later, the organization Traffick911 cooperated with agencies and officers from Dallas to Austin, and together they brought her justice. She and her parents began the long journey of restoration.
Child sex trafficking is happening all around us. Around 300,000 minors are lured into sex trafficking each year. A recent study estimates as many as 79,000 children are victims of sex trafficking, just in the state of Texas. Many are vulnerable to predators’ traps that offer relationships, screen devices, toys, or fashionable clothes.
Our immediate reaction to horrors like this can be to feel numb, overwhelmed, or enraged. Regardless of how you feel, you should know that victims depend on an informed, aware, alert community willing to inform authorities if we see signs of exploitation in our neighborhoods, stores, or at the airport. Victims especially depend on the brave men and women working on the front line combating this terrible evil. They rely on professionals who devote their time helping victims recover their future.
Listen to Nelda’s podcast interview with her friend George Lynch from the organization Traffick911. Learn how this team of heroes is working to restore what has been stolen from these infinitely valuable children — their individual voices and choices.
1:00 Nelda Introduces George: Who are you and how did you get into this work? George talks about the most intimate and important relationships in his own life and how they motivate him to seek justice for the vulnerable.
2:30 How do we bring awareness to this terrible issue? George shares how he discovered the massive scale of this problem. Texas is #2 in the country in numbers of victims. We need to be equipped and aware to recognize the traps that are at work.
4:10 Tell me about Traffick911, what is It doing? T911 opened in 2009 and is now In 18 communities, freeing youths who are being sold for sex. T911 partners with law enforcement, counselors, and juvenile detention centers. It coordinates advocates. T911’s goal — give victims back their stolen voices and choices, through long-term virtuous relationships. T911 wants to change their life trajectory by offering hope.
6:30 What is the Traps program? Traps is T911’s program to raise children’s awareness about how predators use lures to get kids. Kids need to know how predators exploit their material and emotional vulnerabilities.
8:05 Where does Traffick911 work to educate and reach out? Junior highs, juvenile detention centers, anywhere they can. Seven years ago, during T911’s first visit to a juvenile detention center, victims were unable to recognize their status and feelings of shame. Visits became a chance for them to understand the forces arrayed against them, and enable them to admit the truth. More than 800 children, over 9 years, have been identified — they are the lucky ones.
10:40 How important is It for children to be seen as individuals and know that someone cares? The horror is children’s voices and choices being stolen. They deserve to be seen as people with a future. They are not throwaways. They deserve a chance to build relationships and get to know adults who endured similar experiences and became change agents. Each life matters. T911 is building virtuous relationships in their darkest hour. Last year T911 had 128 interactions, and 87 victims are still in relationships with T911 professionals at varied levels. It makes such a difference when people give their lives to reach out, build real friendship, and give joy, celebrating triumphs when possible.
14:30 What is the biggest misconception about exploitation? The biggest pain is caused by betrayal and hurt — what happens in exploitative relationships. These youth know betrayal at its worst. They crave real and virtuous relationships. They need someone to meet them and ask, “what is the next best choice for you?” T911 professionals help them dream and come back to where they want to be.
17:00 At first, I had no idea the level of trauma they suffer. It’s hard to face the depth of damage and recognize how deep their need for healing is. There are two layers. One is obvious — the abuse itself. Another layer arises from coping strategies — alcohol, drugs, and dissociation. The worst part is they miss the development milestones that protected kids get.
18:00 Can you share some statistics and recent data obtained in TX? The governor and attorney general are taking this very seriously, and the state of Texas sponsors research. Investigators have found that as many as 79,000 children at any one time are being exploited. There are other costs from long-term damage: 1.6 billion dollars for life-long services stemming from being abused.
20:30. What should parents do? At what age should parents be sharing these things? You can’t talk about this too soon. Kids need boundaries, knowledge, and trust networks. Kids need wisdom and guidance regarding the use of screens and social media. Traffickers use the same social media platforms young people use. Parents can help them recognize that “likes” are not worth the risk.
22:30 Do you have a specific story that shines a light on the magnitude of this? Exploiting children spans gender, race, and economics. One story — a girl grew up in a solid family with sensible rules. But, she rebelled. She was lured by guy in his late 20s, who said, “you don’t have to live with those rules. Come live with me.” She was 12. At 15, she was finally rescued. Her parents were prepared and wisely chose not to shame her. The Dallas district attorney helped restore this child. Law enforcement, prosecutors, all worked together with T911.
26:30 How can people get involved? Be aware. Make a call to the authorities if you see something that doesn’t seem right. Pay attention. Have the conversation. Communities need to know this is happening. George is grateful for Texas laws. We need local law enforcement officers to know we as citizens care. Speak up in the face of wrongs. Show up and support organizations like T911. It’s a global issue, but it’s also local. We need to voice our care and not just feel it. Be educated. Read resources and books, and watch documentaries listed on T911 website. Don’t use porn, because it’s driving such horrible exploitation, and shapes a mindset that feeds the demand for this crime. It commodifies people.
30:00 What’s next for Traffick911? The problem is vast. When you see how big this is, you want to go attack every mole. But T911 has to stick by its guns. T911 just finished 1 year of full advocacy and collaboration with state-wide departments and agencies wanting to collaborate. For T911, the way forward is more of the same — prevention and advocacy. Advocacy to help them get where they want to be.
31:00 Thanks to George and his work to give wings to other people who help restore victims’ lives. Thanks to Nelda for her support.