Dr. Paul Osteen is using The M3 Podcast to draw attention to issues happening around the globe and what people are doing about it. In this episode, he and UnBound Houston Executive Director Kerri Taylor discuss domestic minor sex trafficking, how it’s happening in Houston, and what UnBound is doing about.
At UnBound, we believe that every person has a unique part to play in bringing an end to human trafficking. That’s why we encourage everyone (regardless of your career, age, or background) to get involved. Volunteers, survivors, and partners are truly the faces of UnBound; we wouldn’t be who we are without you! Here’s the story of how artist Carrie Stout decided to use her gifts to contribute to UnBound’s mission.
Carrie Stout, a longtime supporter of UnBound, always wondered how she could get involved. As a full-time artist and mother of one (with one on the way!) Carrie has limited time to spend volunteering. “It just dawned on me like I should have known it all along, I paint. Why can’t we use our artistic abilities to speak for those who have no voice or to tell a story that’s hard to communicate verbally?” Carrie said.
Then, Carrie met with Rebekah Hagman, the gallery owner of Culviate 7Twelve, and together they came up with the idea to do an UnBound Art exhibition. When asked about the show, Rebekah said: “Our biggest failure is allowing sex trafficking to flourish. I perceive this show as an opportunity to give voice to the voiceless.” Rebekah and Carrie brought together a team of artists to create pieces inspired by real stories of human trafficking. Artists chose to depict the strength, breakthrough, courage, and hope found within these stories.
The goal of this partnership is to bring awareness about human trafficking within our community to a larger audience. At UnBound, we know we can’t fight trafficking on our own, it takes the whole community. Throughout the month of October 2018, UnBound and Cultivate 7Twelve offered a variety of events to bring people into the gallery, include a “Human Trafficking 101” presentation, yoga night, and book reading with Julia Walsh. (more…)
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!
By Karen Davis
In 2016, as a graduate student at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, I was first introduced to human trafficking. I learned there were kids and adults, males and females, of all races, that were being forced, tricked or manipulated into manual and sexual servitude. I was sickened such an experience was happening in other cultures and far off places. Then I learned human trafficking happens in the United States. In fact, it occurs right here in Waco, Texas. Because traffickers play on basic human vulnerabilities, everyone is potentially susceptible to their lies, but particularly the innocent. The more I learned, the more I became passionate about educating people about how traffickers operate, how they groom their victims.
Grooming is the process of gradually, methodically and deceptively building the trust of a targeted individual with the purpose of exploiting the individual through forced commercial sex or labor practices. Grooming can happen to any targeted potential victim. In the case of grooming minors, often the predator grooms the family surrounding the child and/or the community the child belongs to. This process can take weeks, months or years. Traffickers can be extraordinarily patient.
Stages of Grooming:
1. Targeting a victim
They prey on the physically and emotionally vulnerable. They are astute observers of human behavior. They can tell if a person is insecure, experiencing financial difficulties, or lacking a strong support system. They look for those with poor social connections, low self-esteem or financial needs. (more…)
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…)