Public safety chair to host human trafficking forum

Special to the GatewayMarch 5, 2014 


Human trafficking, or modern day slavery, includes any kind of forced labor, from forced prostitution and sexual exploitation to agricultural labor, industrial labor and child labor.

It is the third largest criminal industry in the world after arms and drug dealing, and it generates billions of dollars in profit.

It is a global industry that affects people across racial, social, ethnic and economic backgrounds.

Pierce County is not immune from the horrors of this evil.

As the new chair of Public Safety and Human Services Committee for Pierce County, I hope to engage the public with the issue of human trafficking. The committee has scheduled a 1 1/2-hour presentation by Shared Hope International, followed by 30 minutes for questions and answers. It will be held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. March 10 on the 10th floor of the County-City Building.

The committee also includes vice chair Joyce McDonald and members Stan Flemming, Doug Richardson and Connie Ladenburg.

Human trafficking in the United States is a $9.8 billion industry. At least 100,000 U.S. children are exploited in prostitution every year. The average age of entry is 12-14.

The average life expectancy of victims in captivity is about seven years. The growing demand for sex with young children is fueled by a glorification of pimping and a normalization of sexual exploitation.

The Interstate 5 corridor is a main artery for transporting trafficked victims. Trafficking is common around conventions, resorts, sporting events, trade shows, malls, strip clubs, shelters, group homes, etc.

It is more profitable for a trafficker to prostitute a child than to commit other crimes, such as dealing drugs, because the “child,” also known as a “commodity,” is reusable. Perhaps the term “human capital” could be used to describe them as well.

The child is desensitized to sexual images and terms through graphic sex education or porn. Pornography rewires the male brain to become dependent on the natural chemicals that are then released. The chemicals are linked to negative perceptions, attitudes and aggression toward women.

As in all criminal activities, there are never enough resources to eliminate the crime. Prevention and rescue starts with the community being familiarized with the signs of recruiting and trafficking, as well as working to maintain a society that protects the innocent mind of a child.

We must work to end the demand for commercial sex. We must guide policies that reflect the principles from our Founding Fathers, such as “a free people cannot survive under a republican constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong.”

Pray that our children will be protected from those who wish to do them harm, and that those who seek to destroy their innocence be arrested and prosecuted.

Jim McCune is an elected member of the Pierce County Council.

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