It’s an ugly topic, but more and more residents of rural counties are having to face the realities of domestic sex trafficking involving minors.
An organization aiming to bring awareness of the problem wherever it pops up is Traffick911, which has scheduled two volunteer orientation meetings in Hood County open to the pubic.
Deena Graves, founder and executive director of Traffick911, said Hood County has not been singled out statistically as a problem area for the sex trafficking of minors. However, she said, the area does have some high risk factors.
Graves noted that homelessness is one key factor and noted there are 150 Granbury Independent School District students registered as homeless.
“One out of three children who will be homeless are at a very high risk of being approached by a trafficker,” Graves told the Hood County News on Tuesday.
Another risk factor for Hood County is its proximity to the Metroplex, where sex trafficking is already a reality for some teen victims. Graves said sex traffickers are starting to seek victims in areas where there are fewer law enforcement officials that can potentially discover their intentions.
Graves said selling children for such purposes has become a “hidden epidemic” and added, “The Internet has caused these crimes to explode.”
“We need to get our resources into the rural areas,” Graves said, noting that about 30 girls have been identified as being sex trafficking victims in the North Texas region that includes not only Dallas and Fort Worth but also the surrounding suburbs.
The first volunteer meeting is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday at the Granbury Christian Service Center, 1903 W. Pearl St., across from the Granbury Church of Christ. The second meeting will be 6-8 p.m. on May 16 in the historic white church building next to the Acton Methodist Church, 3433 Fall Creek Highway.
A Traffick911 volunteer coordinator will present information at the meetings, including ways the public can lend a hand. Those attending can also learn about what signs to look for in their daily lives.
Traffick911 (www.traffick911.com) is a nonprofit organization with a stated mission of preventing sex trafficking of minors, along with rescuing and restoring victims.
A slogan used by Traffick911 is “There’s no time to waste,” because the average life expectancy of a victim of child sex trafficking is only seven years.
The average age of those who enter that world is only 12 to 13, according to Graves.
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