I wish that I could have retired from rescuing sex-trafficked teens and runaways years ago.
17 years is a long time to be in this type of business. Sadly I don't run out of work. Every week, I am contacted by someone who is led to me by word of mouth. I've never had to advertise my rescuing services because I'm constantly in the streets educating parents and teens about the dangers of social media, gang participation, and deception from pimps. There are thousands of teenagers on the streets of America; these teens are homeless for a myriad of reasons. The conversations I've had over the last 17 years with parents and teens have been vivid and, at times, unbelievable. My work never gets old and I never get jaded as I hear stories from parents who have tried tirelessly to protect their kids from the perils of the outside environment, only for them to see their kids become a part of the, "problem".
According to Covenant House:
- 57% of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.
- In the United States, as many as 20,000 kids are forced into prostitution by human trafficking networks every year.
- According to a study of youth in shelters, nearly 50% reported intense conflict or physical harm by a family member as a major contributing factor to their homelessness.
- More than 25% of former foster children become homeless within two to four years of leaving the system.
- 50% of adolescents aging out of foster care and juvenile justice systems will be homeless within six months because they are unprepared to live independently and have limited education and no social support.
- Almost 40% of the homeless in the United States are under 18.
Social Media has made it difficult to be a parent yet surprisingly easy for pedophiles to seduce your teens.
Facing the reality of social media and the demons that lurk online preying on your teens may be hard for some of you. It may be difficult to comprehend that it's easier than ever for your teen to be lured away from their safe home into the arms of a stranger. You may want to believe that you have trained your child up right, that you have put in the blood, sweat and tears to ensure they are hanging around the right people, listening to positive music, and leading by example. Your teens aren't meeting their suitors at the mall or on a chat line anymore; they're logging onto the same apps you use on your phone to date men/women.
What is my teen searching for?
Some teens are in search of someone outside of their social circle to meet and are being catfished (to lure someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona) by young pimps. These pimps are not old-fashioned and don't need to do anything more than have your daughter, niece, cousin, or granddaughter believe they want to date. They lure them away from home after they've already taken the time to seduce them via phone and text. I wish that you would not give up your teens, because they'll need you now more than ever. They are going to mess up and you'll need to perfect your patience.
"But, I can't take anymore" you may tell me...
I spend so much time in the streets because I'm fascinated by human connection. I want to understand how kids feel, what makes them feel alive and what makes them scared. I also sit and talk to pimps about their families, why they choose the lifestyle they're currently in, and how they plan to navigate their future. There is a common bond between the young pimp and the teen on the street; they've both been abandoned and not mentored to reach their full potential. The pimp and the teens bond in misery and become close because they don't want to be abandoned again. When you abandon your teen, never forget that when you've calmed down and you're ready to give them another chance, your teen being abandoned may be the catalyst that leads them to the streets forever. Some teens I've returned home only to have them leave again because they receive no empathy at home.
I recently helped a friend bring her daughter home from the streets.
She had been on the streets for a couple of weeks; when we got to her it was evident she'd become a totally different person than her mother has remembered in those two weeks. She was hard, emotionless, and angry. We got her home and she's still there despite a few bumps in the road. Another young lady I went to talk to after she had repeatedly run away from home. She then tried to stab her mother in front of her young siblings and the police. Her anger, directed at her mother for various reasons, landed her in a locked facility.
Please, don't give up on your teens. I know how it feels to live with being abandoned; the feeling stays with you lying dormant until an incident unrelated triggers the sad memories of feeling unwanted. This leads to depression, confusion, and anger in young adults. I offer mentoring and life coaching for teens who face specific issues. You can always reach out to me for a free 15-minute consultation.
Jayla The Self-Esteem Queen