There is no denying that sex trafficking is rampant in Nevada.  Some say legalizing prostitution would curb sex trafficking, however many in that business state this is not true.

The primary concern to Awareness Is Prevention (AIP) is the exploitation and trafficking of children. The average age of a trafficked female victim is approximately 12-14 years old, slightly younger for boys.

Prostitution is illegal in Clark County Nevada, but it is legal in other Nevada counties and is controlled by several regulatory groups.  The pro-prostitution argument in Clark County is that if prostitution was legal, and controlled, the sex trafficking problem would be eased.

The Argument to Legalize Prostitution

This argument is invalid when it comes to child and under aged sex trafficking.  The crime of sex trafficking of minors is an unpleasant topic for most people to talk about and it is easier to ignore and brush it off.

People say, “It cannot happen to my daughter, or son” – “We are not that type of family”; “That happens in those Third World Countries, not here”.  They are wrong.

Sadly, Las Vegas has become a hub for this industry which includes so many minors.  It is estimated that one in five underage victims are brought to Las Vegas for the purpose of sex trafficking.

Child Sex Trafficking Victims

It is impossible to know how many children are involved in the sex trade unless they are identified.  The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department identified 116 children in 2019.  The police know this is just a small portion of all victims out there.

According to Polaris, the Government’s national anti-human trafficking organization, there is no official number of victims in the U.S.  It is probably in the hundreds of thousands.

The misconception that only high-risk children get involved in trafficking is widespread.  Of course, the homeless youth and runaways are much more likely to get ensnared into trafficking while looking for basic survival and a roof over their head.

The same holds true for minors that run away from a bad foster care situation.  They are seldom reported as missing.  About one in three run-away children will get picked up by a trafficker within the first 36 hours.

Anyone Can Become A Victim

Despite the statistics, the truth is that anyone can fall victim to this heinous crime.  The traffickers are going after the “well kept” girls from a higher social class since they will bring more money.

The shopping malls are a perfect hunting place for traffickers.  The charming “Romeo pimp” selects his victim carefully.  He targets someone with seemingly low self-esteem, chats her up, gets her phone number, starts giving her presents, takes her out to dinner, becomes her “boy-friend” and her lover.

When the girl becomes attached and thinks she has fallen in love, the scenario changes drastically.  Gone is the charming guy and his demeanor is now replaced by more coercive actions and often drugs. Sometimes threats and violent beatings, along with threats to hurt her family members.

Blackmail Is Common

Blackmailing the victim, through pornographic images, is not uncommon.  Many of the traffickers today are gang members, known for their brutality.  They realize the money to be made is stronger than Gang Territory and they sometimes cooperate with rival gangs to keep their widespread trafficking services optimized.

Meanwhile their victims are being abused, drugged up, starved and truly a sex slave for their traffickers.  The traffickers find they can make more money in selling sex than they could in selling weapons and drugs.  Why?  Because they must replace the commodity of a weapon or a drug, while the sex slave is a reusable commodity they can sell over and over until she, or he, is no longer viable.

The life span of a trafficked victim is about seven years.

Social Media

Other than personal contacts, social media has become a significant threat.  Approximately 85% of initial contact is through social media.  It is too easy to locate kids online and find information on them through their other social media links.

Another factor is pornography.  It plays a big role in “normalizing” sexual practices and is an uncontrollable platform that younger and younger kids have access to.  What is the answer?

Being aware of the situation and monitoring the children’s activities on internet. That is not an easy task since kids are gullible, naive, curious and their hormones are racing.  Then the Traffickers can also use Force, Fraud or Coercion to further engage them into a short, horrific, life of being literally a slave.

Awareness Is an Important Key to Prevention

So, what is the solution?  We need to get as many people as possible tuned in with Awareness of what is truly going on and the threats to our youth.  The magnitude of the problem is much bigger than most people realize.

It is more important to try to prevent someone from being trafficked than trying to rehabilitate one from having been trafficked.  It is much easier to work on prevention than to try to repair a broken person.  No one comes out of a sex slavery situation without suffering emotional damage for the rest of their lives.

As you read this article you may come up with other ideas and scenarios that could be used to focus on an individual’s personal capabilities, no matter what the age, to lessen the chances of being enslaved in this horrendous industry.  Those comments and ideas can be shared with organizations such as ours.

Awareness Is Prevention, is a Nevada registered 501 (c) 3 organization entering our sixth year of operation.  We are continuously working on improving our methods of spreading Awareness, but we need help from the community as well as from corporate sponsors to continue our Mission and Vision. (AIPNV.ORG)

Guest Blog Writer:

Lena Walther
Co-Founder, AIP