Mercer Council News
National Runaway Prevention Month
No one ever imagines their child will just vanish one day. However, commercial sexual exploitation of minors is one of the various sad realities of why children leave home. November is National Runaway Prevention Month. In shining a light on the intersection of substance use and sex trafficking of minors, MCADA wants to highlight that the leading form of coercion used against victims of forced sex trafficking involves the use of drugs. (Polaris, 2019)
You may ask yourself how?
Many victims are "groomed" to be trafficked. This is a period where the trafficker provides the victim with attention, may purchase things for them, and in some cases exposes them to addictive drugs under the guise of "helping" the victim deal with life.
However, once away from their support systems, the abuse begins and the additional layer of addiction often leaves victims feeling powerless to leave.
One of the common misnomers about trafficking is that it involves physical restraints. However, the truth is, victims often live in such an agitated state of fear created through their abuse.
Imagine a victim's barriers to leave. More often than not, they are faced with some uncomfortable realities, such as new substance use issues, recent behaviors that bring them shame, and they may have fear of retaliation if they are unsuccessful in leaving.
The Polaris Project reported that friends and family were the primary avenues for victims to seek support. Keeping focused on the solution, the hope is that caregivers, neighbors, mentors and concerned grown-ups will begin asking young people regularly about their online activities by inquiring about their games and applications, what they like, dislike, and why. This can raise awareness one person at a time that grooming and sextortion can be initiated by likes on social media platforms or purchases on online games.
Will you start a conversation today?
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