The hideous secret Ohio is hiding…
I’m still shocked at what I learned. It started out pretty innocuous, running kids places, a little yard work, double date with another awesome Cincinnati writer friend of mine, brief monsoon (okay, it just rained, but crazy torrential downpour style) – and then came the invitation.
I had no idea an invitation to a concert would turn into unearthing one of the most hideous hidden truths about our state.
In 2015, of my daughters’ friend’s mom invited her to an upcoming Taylor Swift concert. Sounds awesome, right? I didn’t know if this was “a thing” and my two sons, who then were 17 and 19 at the time, never had this opportunity. So I did some investigating. Ticket costs were between $130-$300. The mom wasn’t attending the concert. Who can blame her at those prices?
I wasn’t familiar with the arena, so I looked into that, too. Seemed like it would be easy to lose someone. I started leaning toward, “No.”
But I also wondered if I was being over-protective as a mom… I admit I grew up in a small town in the Northwest. I’ve been here nearly 20 years and the traffic still challenges me.
Before I got to Ohio, I’d been in one traffic jam. It was caused by a herd of cows crossing the highway.
So I know there’s a lot I don’t know. I know I can be a little naïve.
Back to the concert.
Part of me was mainly concerned about the crowd, the girls getting lost, drunk people acting badly towards these two beautiful girls, or the two of them breathing in something other than air.
I had no idea that those should be the least of my concerns.
One of the people I asked what they thought (my husband was out of town on business, so I had to make this decision solo) was my nearly 20 year old son. He’s in the music industry (Christian band Waveshapes) and knows more about this sort of thing. Turns out his fiancé’s friend survived an abduction attempt at a concert in Columbus when she was 14 years old. These 20-somethings knew about the sex trade in Ohio. The I-71 free way access doesn’t help.
I was clueless. But it’s real.
As it turns out, Ohio has an issue with being a leader in human sex trafficking.
Toledo is #4 in the nation.
This year alone, over 1000 kids in Ohio will be abducted and enter the sex trade industry.
As I started to research this online, I lost my appetite, my heart started to pound, caught in my throat, and my eyes have been wet for hours as I research and write this. My daughter didn’t understand my tears for these girls her age that I weep for. Someday, when she has a girl of 12-14, like this mom, she might.
Here’s what I learned that I didn’t know:
- These girls are branded (tattooed) by their pimps to mark them as his property. Like cattle. Horrifying.
- There are companies trying to educate and help. We should support them.
- Cincinnati, where I live, has a fairly significant sex-trade industry. Thriving, even.
- This year, over 1000 women and Ohio teenagers will disappear into the industry.
- The most common age to become involved in the sex trafficking industry in Ohio is 13.
- People care.
- There’s stuff you can do to help.
Too few of us realize how precious ALL of us are to Him.
So here’s my dare for today.
I dare us moms with our laptops and lattes to WAKE UP. Take a moment to think about how we are being brave in the middle of our luxury.
Think just a moment about our own daughters going to the mall with a friend and not coming home, but rather being sold into slavery. Please understand I’m not encouraging bubble wrapping your kids – nor am I fear mongering. There’s damage done to children by being overprotective, too. That’s not what this is about today. I’m guessing not all of us are aware that Ohio has an issue with the human trafficking industry. I’m guessing that I’m not alone in thinking too many of us are wandering around with “first world” problems while we have “third world” problems happening right under our noses.
These things didn’t exist when I was a kid like they do now. The world gets darker daily.
Sorry to be a downer, but in the middle of the moments where we’re so busy navel gazing and fussing about our husbands not paying enough attention to us and/or their verbal or physical abuse, we need to take a moment and realize that WE HAVE OPTIONS MANY DO NOT.
And someone needs to model healthy interactions for our daughters – and their friends.
Honestly, I paused a moment before I told the other mom what I’d decided and why. I tried to just be loving and appreciative in our discussion, and I took a deep breath and told my daughter what I had decided and why.
At some point during the discussions I told my adult son, “I hate being a grown up sometimes.” Honestly, I really hate the horrors of this world we live in.
Dare you to pray about what God will have you do. Double dog dare you to check the Pure Hope Foundation website – this is right in our corner of the woods, folks.
Love to you,
I also now have one extra weekend available in 2016 if your church or conference is looking for a speaker. I choose to speak just a handful of times a year, but I did end up with an opening. You can contact us through the Greater Impact website. 🙂