April 1, 2013

Sex Trafficking

A friend called me last week.  Well, she went to high school with my husband, but I have made her a friend of my own now.  Sometimes I steal.  It can’t be helped.  She’s one of those people who fill the room with energy, passion and general fun.  She usually calls to say, ‘Let’s get together.’  And I always say yes with the most fervor, and months go by before we get those happy hours set up or parties attended.  But when we do, my belly aches from laughing, and I just know life is good with people like that around. 


So when she asked me to call this time, I was surprised she asked me if I had anything to say about sex trafficking.  Okay, she didn’t ask exactly like that.  But I have to admit it caught me off-guard.  I’m sorry, is that the name of a new martini?  But no.  It wasn’t.  And then she said something like, “If my meager life could mean anything, I want to help with this event.”  I get that.  I feel that way.  You probably do too.  But I often give ‘Cookies for Kids’ Cancer’ or to a safe house for young teen mothers, who might be on the street.  Sex trafficking hadn’t crossed my mind, for a lot of reasons. 


And it scared me.  It sounds so horrible, so far out of my reach, so “other”.  But I asked her for all her facts and such.  I had to see if it was personal.  Guess what.  It is.  It’s damn personal.  Children of all ages, toddlers, infants, teenagers, boys and girls, they are all affected.  And I apologize for any images that are conjured because I saw them too. 


Did you know approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in every 6 boys is sexually abused? 

Only a fraction of perpetrators are caught.

Child pornography is at the top of fast growing internet businesses. 

Did you know that, according to the Starbright Foundation Inc, sex trafficking is a top crime in Arizona, where many of us live?



Well, I didn’t know it was so common.  But then I started thinking about how many of my friends have been molested or raped or victimized sexually in their lives.  How many people have been wronged and still no one knows?  It’s that serious.  It affects a lot more people than we know. 


What started out as a way to potentially help a friend turned out to be a gut-clenching education on a dark piece of the world we live in.  It’s not just relevant across an ocean or to children of a different age.  It’s an issue we should all be aware of, that we should educate our children on, that we should educate ourselves on.  No, we can’t live in fear.  We can’t stop all pain and suffering, but we can do something very little, very insignificant, something that could change someone else’s life put together with a lot of other insignificant, small acts. 


This coming Saturday, April 6 at 6:30PM, the Starbright Foundation Inc. will be raising money at the Chandler Center for the Arts by having teens do their part to help too.  (What, only $15?)  Young adults from all over Phoenix Metropolitan area will be sharing their talents in a Talent Fest. What a way for young people to fight for the rights of teens their own age, by raising money for a safe house.  This safe house will provide shelter and emotional care and recovery for children of sex trafficking. 


Yes, there will be famous and beautiful people.  But even if there weren’t going to be, I can’t imagine a better way to support teens in the arts.  What better way to contribute to a better life for those who have been the victim of unimagined crimes, unimagined lives, and unimagined destinies.  Please buy tickets today or make a donation if this speaks to you.  We hope to see you there! Help us fill 1,500 seats!



With love,