When I attending the UpRising Yoga trauma informed training, my mind was absolutely blown to find out that many of the girls who are currently incarcerated in juvenile detention centers have been charged with solicitation. Girls. Children. Minors. In America. In LA County. And as I did more research, I found out in San Bernardino County, where I work and reside. Most prevalently, in area not very far from where I live.
I have heard about human trafficking and knew it was a problem. I had always thought of it as some far off occurrence that affected children from other countries. I knew this was bad, but I still was not making the connection of the implications this had for children and communities.
I cannot believe how ignorant I have been about this topic and I was really blown away to find out how often this occurs in my very own community. I found out the average age that most girls enter into this life is 12 or 13. I have to say it again because I still do not even believe it, 12 or 13!
About 60% of these girls are or have been in the foster system and are easily manipulated and trusting. They are eager to be taken care of and please and there are pimps out there searching for this type of girl to mold and sell.
I recently finished the book Pimpology: The 48 Laws of the Game that describes these manipulation tactics in disturbing detail. This was a fairly easy read, length-wise, but content-wise, it was very difficult to get through. I felt sick at some points at the description of how easy it is to manipulate these young girls and how their lives are forever entwined and entrenched in the “game.” It is incredibly difficult for them to escape this lifestyle, once they are in it.
This phenomenon is incredibly disturbing to me and something I cannot shake off. The more I research and learn, the more disgusted I am.
I watched the documentaries Very Young Girls and Playground and found out more about how prevalent this is all around the nation and world. I learned how many families are truly effected by this and how little legislation is in place to offer protection for these girls. Generally speaking (although there have been small strides), overall in prostitution cases, prostitutes are the ones criminalized and no one else.
The documentary that really grabbed my attention and that I implore everyone in San Bernardino County to watch is Teenage $ex 4 $ale: Human Trafficking in San Bernardino County. You can view it right off the DA’s website or click here for a link to the Vimeo site. It was very eye opening for me to see this occurring right on streets that I recognize and pass through often.
I feel compelled to keep talking about this and take action where I can. I am not sure what that will look like yet and I still have much to learn, but I have been ignorant about this matter for far too long and I cannot un-know what I have learned.