I have recently begun to become educated on the enormous issue of sex trafficking of young girls into prostitution. One of the ways to reach these young victims is through social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Instagram and Twitter. Girls are being lured with photos and videos describing a life of luxury and once tempted, threatened into prostitution by gang members. Or they make take the approach that they are someone who “likes” the girl and pretends to have a romantic interest in her. I am astounded at the enormity of this issue and particularly here in Las Vegas where I live. Apparently, “Sin City” is a place where many of these “pimps” feel their “girls” will be able to solicit a large number of clientele. That doesn’t shock me. Since moving here I have come to understand how outsiders view my adopted city and it never ceases to amaze me when someone asks, “so where on the Strip do you live?”.
These “pimps” or “panderers” use social media sites such as Facebook to reach out to potential victims and the beauty of it for them is that it is anonymous to the victim. They can hide behind a false persona on sites such as Facebook and Twitter and no one may be the wiser until it is too late. My commitment to fight cyberbullying has now been linked to my passion to make it as difficult as possible for these anonymous predators to reach out to young women. As Flocks.com becomes integrated into school systems nationwide, hiding behind a false profile or impersonating someone else will be a thing of the past. You cannot get into Flocks unless your identity has been “manually” verified by a school, organization, employer, Secretary of State, etc.
Astonishingly I am learning that entrance into pornography and prostitution has an average age of 12. I was told yesterday that here in Las Vegas it is 13. Can you imagine? CNBC reports that is is a $ 32 billion dollar industry. It seems that domestic girls are being highlighted as victims because it may be easier to put them to work right here, many of them in our community.
As a passionate lover of social media and all the good that it can do now and into the future, I am frankly sickened by all that I am learning of the “darker side” of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, etc. This doesn’t even touch upon Apps that our kids are using on their Smartphones which can lead to pornography, predators, etc. etc.
We are fooling ourselves if we think that it cannot happen “to our kids, grandkids, etc.”. Every neighborhood can be effected by these darker elements and dialogue among teachers, religious leaders, parents and law enforcement must take place. Parents may be completely in the dark about what their kids are “getting into” and at ages of 12 and 13 that is simply not going to help stop this type of frightening abuse.
On January 22 in Las Vegas at 7:39-8:00pm a documentary titled Trafficked No More will air on all our major networks including Vegas PBS and Univision. Please watch it and help spread the word. It is important that we all become aware of what is going on and start putting an end to this. Nevada has passed Assembly Bill 67 which should have all those who engage in this heinous practice sit up and take note.
I am committed to bringing Flocks.com to every student 8th grade and up this year. This social media platform will simply not allow for False Identities and Impersonations. It will help stem the tide of cyberbullying and sex trafficking. Teen suicide is on the rise and it cannot continue.
I was bullied on my way home from school. I was called names in school. Simply said, I was the “fat kid”. I was a miserable youngster whose parents were divorced (and I was the only one then) and whose sibling was always causing embarrassing moments for me. We all have a story but this is getting out of hand as the sheer anonymity of it and the vulnerability of our youth make this a crisis that we must act upon.