Human Trafficking: It Happens Everywhere


Molly Sikes

Law enforcement officer giving the Fredericktown High School girls info on sex trafficking

Molly Sikes, Writer

On February 28 and March 2, some law enforcement officers came to our school to talk about a current issue happening right under our noses: human trafficking. The anomaly about this crime is that while it is the second most profitable in the world (a multi-BILLION dollar industry), not many people have seen it first hand or even know what it is. This is because the same person can be sold over and over again several times a night for an average of seven years. Many also believe that it couldn’t possibly be happening near here, but St. Louis is the twentieth highest ranking city in the nation of reported sex trafficking incidents. Western Missouri has more prosecutions of sex traffickers than anywhere in the nation.

To learn how to prevent or stop sex trafficking, one must first know exactly what it is and what it looks like. Sex trafficking is the use of another person’s body through sexual acts to earn money or something of value. There are several ways that traffickers can convince or force a kid to get started in this life. The most common way here in Missouri is the “Romeo” method. The Romeo method is when a group chooses a girl to sell, and learns everything about her. Then, they send a man in to sweep her off her feet, so to say, by using her interests and buying her gifts. Once he has implanted himself in her life, he will start to turn her against her family and friends. He then will convince her to run off, having already chosen a location and buyer. She will most likely never be seen by her family again.

Molly Sikes
Sheriff Rick Walter telling of his experiences in rescuing victims of sex trafficking

Prevention starts when we learn to ignore misconceptions and labels, and look for signs of danger. Common misconceptions are things like these: the victim is a criminal/runaway/prostitute, sex trafficking doesn’t happen in America, or that it can only happen to girls. By throwing away labels, it is easier to look for signs and see if someone needs help. Some signs that someone you know is a potential victim of sex trafficking: new/expensive items, much older boyfriend, more reclusive tendencies, asking you to lie about where he or she is. You will notice these signs in your friends long before their parents do, so please, speak up.

EXTRA WARNING: Sex trafficking does not always occur in person. Sending your own pornographic photos or videos to someone you have met online can be extremely dangerous. There are websites for people who can sell these, and in severe cases, they may use your information to force you to perform sexual acts live on the computer, making money every time someone logs in.