Yes, for those who are familiar with the pop culture saying "pimpin' ain't easy," let me tell you why that is not the case anymore.
The United States has a child trafficking problem -- it can't be denied any longer, in particular after such horrors endured by the teen sex slaves in Cleveland have been exposed, and most recently with the FBI raids that resulted in the rescue of 150 children across dozens of cities.
I believe that one of the main reasons why this crime has been able to grow so quickly is because of the abundant supply of children, mainly girls, who are vulnerable and easily exploited for prostitution by shrewd pimps and traffickers.
I think pimping is easy within our cities and suburbs because pimps don't really have to do that much work. We as a society have done an excellent job of staying intentionally silent to abuse in its many forms that plague so many of our youth, thus leaving them vulnerable to pimps. We as a society have done the work for the pimps to make young children feel that their real core value and self worth comes from money and the "things" they possess, therefore it is okay to do whatever it takes to get that money, even if that means using their bodies for sex. We in society have done an amazing job of teaching our young girls that their beauty comes in the form of measuring up to Hollywood starlets who are air-brushed, starved, and altered for the masses to consume all the while helping to reinforce that beauty only comes from the external representation of oneself and thus focusing on developing sexuality before even truly understanding it.
We in society have done a great job of teaching young men that it is okay, cool in fact, to be demeaning to women and to view them as objects solely of desire, so to purchase a woman for sex doesn't come with the obvious moral questions anymore. We in society have a done great job accepting that our tax dollars are used to support countries that resent us, profligate the funds we provide and in turn use to enslave their citizens, instead of our government using even a fraction of those billions of dollars to support the creation of employment opportunities for children here.
Pimping is easy because we in society see it happening every day in our communities but we turn a blind eye to it and assume it is only happening in some far-off land and in turn use our manpower and resources to help those people, instead of first fixing the problem here where it's actually manageable. I am not condemning those who feel called to be of service to those in other countries but I am saying that if we can't work to effectively stamp out forced prostitution here in the United States, then how can we truly ever fix it in countries that are dealing with deeper levels of corruption, poverty, and gender based violence?
Pimping is easy because as I have witnessed during my 10 years anti-trafficking activism, one of the main ingredients for its proliferation in any nation is society's ability to disbelieve its very existence. This is very evident now as we have launched our latest I Stop Traffic campaign using the cause-related feature film project, Close To Home and the fearful responses from parents who are unwilling to watch the promotional trailer, which tells the story of three American girls trafficked across this country.
This unwillingness to look through the veil causes parents to either not pay attention to the issue or intentionally leave their children in the dark by not engaging them in conversation about the profit traffickers can earn from exploiting them. Though I understand the thinking of "my child isn't abused, abandoned, neglected, so what do I have to worry about?" the reality is your child is making friends with other peers online, at games, events, malls, and through other friends.
Parents have no idea of each and every friend their child is meeting and that is one way traffickers recruit -- through friends, in particular, of the same gender. Most parents wouldn't have a clue when the cool new friend who their child is constantly referring to is the "bottom" -- the recruiter of new flesh for the pimp lurking in the background. All it takes is one trip to the mall, one sampling of a drink at a party or one ride home with that recruiter friend to lose your happy-go-lucky middle-class daughter to a ruthless pimp. When a pimp can earn upwards of $150,000 for prostituting one minor in this country, what is the incentive for him to not seek ALL children, especially the fresh-faced, naive ones.
Sex trafficking is like an infestation of roaches or ants in your neighbor's home. If they don't take care of it, then it will spread to yours, and ultimately the entire neighborhood will be infested. That is how this works and if we keep thinking this is a "their" problem and not an "our" problem it will become an epidemic that will be unmanageable and for that we will truly have failed our children and our society.
If you are reading this and are bold enough to want to learn about this crime and be a part of the solution take a look at our current awareness campaign at: http://www.igg.me/at/closetohome
Michael Cory Davis is the founder of the I Stop Traffic Campaign: http://www.istoptraffic.com.