By Eddie Capparucci, LPC, CSAS, CPCS
Greek mythology tells the story of Hydra, a serpent-like monster with many heads. What was also unique about Hydra is if one of its heads were cut off, two more would grow back in its place. It seems like that’s the way it has become with sex-trafficking these days.
After a tremendous public outcry, in 2018 Backpage.com was seized by federal authorities and the owners of the website were indicted on federal charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering. It was a significant victory for those advocating against sex trafficking.
But this modern-day Hydra also has many heads. And as quickly as Backpage.com was put out of business there springs up Skip the Games, which portrays itself as a dating site but is nothing more than a front for promoting prostitution.
In recent months, a police task force in the Leigh Valley area of Pennsylvania has been cracking down on individuals who advertise on Skip the Games. Its efforts have netted numerous arrests, and that’s encouraging news. However, what police officials are discovering as they interview the women arrested is a vast majority of these ladies were forced into selling their bodies to strangers.
“Unfortunately, these women and even young girls are being forced into doing this,” says Sgt. Michael Enstrom of the Colonial Regional Police Department. “That is why representatives from local advocacy groups assist us during sting operations. Men get a hold of these women and pump them with drugs. They soon become hooked on heroin, and they become slaves to the drug and the men. It’s a sad story.”
What Sgt. Enstrom is talking about is nothing new. Men have been coercing, manipulating, and threatening women into prostitution since the beginning of time.
So how should we combat the multi-head sex-trafficking beast that confronts us? Here are two ways.
- Education. We must be devoted to teaching our children about the dangers of pornography and how it taints and infects our view of sex. Young boys must be instructed not to objectify girls, and young girls should be taught not to objectify themselves.
But why am I talking about educating the next generation about pornography? What does that have to do with sex trafficking? A lot.
First, most men who frequent prostitutes also use pornography. Although it’s not always the case, pornography is often a stepping stone used by men before escalating their destructive sexual behavior. Second, many women who have worked in the porn industry have come forward to report they were forced into the business by men who manipulated and/or abused them.
If we start talking to our kids about sex in a healthy way and let them know sex should be something sacred and not polluted, we can begin to cut off a source that fuels sex trafficking.
- Limit Access. The UK has recently passed legislation that will make it more difficult for individuals under the age of 18 to gain access to pornography. Again, this is another strong move to protect our children. And while this action will not eliminate pornography, it will assist parents in keeping it out of the eyes of their children. We are hopeful the US and other countries will follow suit.
There are some things a young mind is not meant to see, and pornographic images are one of them. Pornography provides our youth and an inaccurate picture of sexuality. It teaches young boys that girls are something to be used for self-gratification. Worst yet, it shows young girls it’s ok to allow boys to use you.
Am I saying these two initiatives alone with end sex trafficking? No. There will always be evil in the world, and men who will exploit and abuse women. But in taking a proactive stance against this epidemic by taking back the minds of our youth, we could potentially cut off some of the heads of sex-trafficking.