Although there are many stories I could share about children getting pulled into trafficking, I would like to share a story with you about a young man that we have met personally.
We were contacted recently by a young man named Samuel*, who told us his story (He had listened to us speak at a Youth Group event the previous year). He was signing up for scholarships as he would be a senior and wanted to get a start on applying for ivy league schools. Without delay, Samuel was awarded a scholarship to a fantastic ivy league college, and he so was excited about it. The college assigned him a personal advisor and Samuel was excited to move forward in any way he could. After exchanging contact information with the advisor, they chatted about life and Samuel's future plans. After all the paperwork was through, the advisor told Samuel they had an annual freshman competition that he thought Samuel could win and informed him that money was also awarded to the winner. Samuel sent him some photos, and after a couple of weeks, the advisor told him he was in the preliminaries and that Samuel had to send more pictures through the advisor. The advisor suggested he send them with his shirt off because he was so good-looking. But it didn’t stop there. After a little while, the advisor suggested Samuel send him a nude for the contest and eased his reservations with a statement that "The college was liberal and inclusive to human nudity and sexuality."
With hesitations, Samuel decided that he wanted the scholarship, the winnings, and his advisor’s favor - so he reluctantly sent him a nude to be entered into the contest. But the minute Samuel pressed send, the advisor demanded to meet with him for a sexual favor, asked for more nudes from the 17-year-old, and told him that he wouldn’t get his scholarship or the advisor’s affirmation and approval if he didn’t comply. The advisor also threatened to tell Samuel’s parents that he sent a naked picture of himself for the contest if he didn’t comply with the demands. Only then did Samuel remember our teachings on blackmail and how traffickers and predators pull teens into the sex trade through elaborate schemes. Samuel knew he had gone too far... but that if he continued to comply with his advisor, he might get physically pulled into sex trafficking.
Samuel decided to tell his parents what was happening, and his parents were shocked. When the police were called, the investigation revealed that the ivy league school didn’t have Samuel in their system and that they had never heard of the man who tricked the young boy into believing he was their advisor. Devastated by the reality that Samuel hadn’t gotten a scholarship, there was no freshman contest, he had sent ‘child porn’ to a predator, he was victimized, and he possibly was only inches away from being pressured into more. Thankfully, we don’t need to imagine what would have happened to this young boy because of the prevention piece we are a part of - and the truth that being educated about trafficking prevented him from a future of sexual exploitation.
We are honored to have been able to be a part of his history so that his story looks different than what could have been. And all this because we are in this fight together.
According to the Federal Sentencing of Child Pornography Production Offenses Report they stated, “Notably, in 2020 alone, the Cyber Tipline of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received 21.7 million reports of child sexual abuse imagery, online child exploitation and enticement, child sexual molestation, and child sex trafficking.”
Can you believe it? Twenty-one million tips… with Samuel’s story being one of those stories. Our job to protect this next generation is just beginning, and that is why we are excited to be able to fight against it.
On this note… we are excited to have finished our Vigilant Parenting book and know this is a great need for many families who long to protect their children. Feel free to order it on Amazon for only $6.99. We love the thought of protecting children and guarding them against the pains of trafficking, and thankfully we now have a resource for just that with this simple tool. Now we need to get it into the hands of parents, but hopefully, you can help us with that so that we can protect those in our spheres.
This fight is sometimes hard, especially when the stats and stories seem to be piling high. However, being surrounded by those who support us and know we are being prayed for makes us continue the fight with tenacity and determination. Again, we can’t do any of this without you, and we are so thankful for the work we can do through ISA with you by our side.
*His name and slight information have been changed to protect his identity.