In 2017, TFNB Your Bank for Life chose UnBound Waco as a “Charity Champion,” and they have since provided great awareness and community exposure. Recently, they released a three-part podcast series highlighting our work!
Part One: National Director Susan Peters
In this episode, UnBound National Director Susan Peters shares about how UnBound got started, how to identify victims and how UnBound collaborates with other community agencies.
Part Two: McLennan County Sheriff Parnell MacNamara
In this episode, Sheriff MacNamara describes his agency’s efforts to combat human trafficking, and how their strong partnership with UnBound has grown over the years.
Part Three: Survivor Leader Julia Walsh
In this episode, Julia Walsh shares how she was trafficked, how she overcame, and how she’s using her experience to help others.
Huge thanks to Charity Champions and TFNB Your Bank For Life for producing this podcast!
Parents, take a moment to imagine, “some scary person comes to your front door, knocks on it and asks to talk to your 12-year-old child. You would look at them, slam the door on their face, and probably call the police” (Kirsta Melton, Office of the Texas Attorney General, 2018). It is chilling to think that this may be happening everyday as your child surfs the web and uses apps on their cell phone. UnBound has worked with children that are being approached by traffickers on social media, online gaming platforms, and apps like musical.ly or Snapchat.
There’s no easy fix, but here are some basic steps every parent can take to help keep kids safe from traffickers on social media:
1. Monitor your teen’s internet and social media usage
In addition to placing computers and gaming stations in a common area, you should supervise your children’s use of technology by monitoring their app usage and social media accounts. Pay specific attention to platforms where your teens can hold private conversations, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Xbox Live, or Facebook Messenger. This includes not allowing your child to have access to their phones and gaming stations overnight so that traffickers can communicate with them while they are unsupervised. Taking your teen’s phone at night also provides you with an opportunity to oversee their accounts. (more…)
Every semester, UnBound Waco goes into local middle schools to teach girls about human trafficking. Over the course of 10 weeks, our volunteer facilitators cover topics like sex trafficking, value and worth, safe social media usage, healthy relationships and vulnerabilities. This fall we had 11 volunteers leading 7 groups in 3 different middle schools around Waco for a total of 56 sessions.
We surveyed the students at the beginning of the course to find that:
- 43% – had never heard of sex trafficking, or were not sure what it was.
- 82% – didn’t know or strongly disagreed that kids in their school or neighborhood were at-risk for sex trafficking.
- 35% – believed that if things are hard at home, running away is a good option.
During the course of the group, girls began to learn about what human trafficking was and even identified that some of their friends were at risk for trafficking
When the leaders were teaching the students about safe social media usage, the seventh grade girls spoke about how men they did not know contact them “all the time” on Instagram. One girl told the following story. “Well I had been dating this guy I met on Instagram for like 3 months. We talked a lot, and one day he called me. His voice sounded really deep. I asked him ‘how old are you,’ and he said 34.” When the group was teaching about vulnerabilities one of the leaders spoke to the girls about the dangers of running away. One girl from the group said, “I just ran away from home. When I was gone I was walking down a street and a man started following me. He was chasing me, and I ran and ran to get away. I was so scared. So this stuff is real. Don’t run away from home guys it’s not safe.”
This post was written and published by KCEN-TV. See the original post on the KCEN-TV website.
A woman messaged our Facebook page earlier this week with a question about our recent “Selling Girls” stories, which focused on exposing the scope of child sex trafficking in the United States and how to prevent more young children from becoming victims.
She asked if we could compile some information parents could use about how to talk to their children about the issue. So, we reached out to UnBound Waco, an organization working to curb human trafficking in Central Texas and offering support to victims who escaped the billion-dollar-a-year industry in the United States.
Below is some of the advice UnBound Waco offered.
1. Talk to your children about social media
Last year, we covered a story about a Houston father who said his teenage daughter was lured into the sex trade by an older man on the social media app Snapchat. The trafficker used the app to slowly groom her beginning at age 16, eventually getting her to agree to meet him at a party, where she disappeared.
Advice: Take every opportunity to chat with your children about the danger of talking to strangers on social media and ask them to disable location sharing capabilities on their social media accounts and photos. Predators are patient, and they will pose as your children’s friends — using any bit of information they can glean from public social media accounts to groom them by pretending to share similar interests and being in the same places at the right times. (more…)
The Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition was launched in January 2015 in an effort to coordinate efforts to combat human trafficking in the six-county region surrounding Waco, Texas. UnBound Waco had been working in Waco for a few years to educate the community and build relationships with service providers and law enforcement, but founder Susan Peters and other community partners decided something bigger needed to happen.
Over the past two years, we’ve held meetings for representatives from more than 45 area agencies, coming together to learn, connect and move the fight forward. The coalition was growing and doing well, but, as in most things, could benefit from significant funding to fill some of the gaps of collaboration, training and service. When we found out about a $1.5 million Department of Justice grant for the development of human trafficking task forces, we decided to apply. With relatively little data for what we knew to be a significant trafficking issue, we weren’t sure if we could demonstrate the need to the federal government to fund this effort in a relatively small geographic region. However, after six months of waiting, we received the news that the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition was funded for $1.5 million! (more…)
In the past year, four million Syrian refugees have left their jobs and houses, risked their lives and crossed borders, seeking the safety and freedom they have no chance of at home. Hundreds of thousands more from the Middle East and Africa have also sought refuge in neighboring countries. This movement has left millions of people without resources, disconnected from community and communication, desperate and vulnerable. This crisis has put millions at risk of human trafficking.
Although it’s a really complex question that no one can yet fully grasp, we wanted to help explain a few elements of the crisis and what part human trafficking plays in the Refugee Crisis. Here are 5 things you should know: (more…)
Last year, the European Migrant and Refugee Crisis finally got the world’s attention and broke into our hearts. In the past year, more than four million Syrian refugees have left their jobs and houses, risked their lives and crossed borders, seeking the safety and freedom they have no hope for at home. Hundreds of thousands more from the Middle East and Africa have also sought refuge in neighboring countries. This movement has left millions of people without resources, disconnected from community and communication, desperate and vulnerable. They often end up in countries where they don’t understand the law, live in fear of deportation, are without paperwork, or don’t know how to legally provide for their families. When the high demand for human trafficking in Europe meets this influx of highly vulnerable refugee populations, there’s a high probability of refugees being exploited and/or trafficked on the refugee trail. (more…)
By Susan Peters, Executive Director
In the early 2000s, I went on trips to Thailand, Uganda and India. I saw young girls trapped in sex trafficking and met young men forced to be child soldiers. That’s when God first broke my heart for modern day slavery, human trafficking, around the world. That’s when I first experienced the compassion of Jesus for this area and felt called to action.
At UnBound, we regularly receive phone calls to help victims of human trafficking in our community. Sometimes the calls are from mothers whose teenage daughters have been trafficked, sometimes they come from police officers who picked up someone they think is a victim, or from schools who recognized the signs of trafficking in their classroom. One time that really marked me was a call from a hospital. (more…)
My experience with conferences is typical for your average American adult. I have attended educational conferences for my career; I have attended inspiring conferences for work in ministry; I have even attended conferences for my hobbies, but nothing could really prepare me for the kind of conference I experienced yesterday. (more…)