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Friday, October 17, 2014

"Made in the USA" (Alisa Jordheim)

TITLE: Made in the U.S.A.: The Sex Trafficking of America's Children
AUTHOR: Alisa Jordheim
PUBLISHER: Oviedo, FL: HigherLife Publishing, 2014, (288 pages).

The problem is not overseas. The problem is very much closer to home. In fact, it is right at our backyard! If we do not see the vulnerability of children to sex exploitation, traffickers will anyway. This is the underlying concern that leads to a passionate fight against a global epidemic: Sex Trafficking, Exploitation, and Child Abuse. From Asia to Europe, Africa to the Americas, the problem is the same that cuts across racial, ethnic, gender, and all classes. Right from chapter 1, readers will be shocked by the African, East European, Asian children coerced into the sex trade at a very early age. Gradually, the problem moves closer to home where young girls are lured into the sex industry as pimps and traffickers use their expert hunting skills to rein in the vulnerable. Jordheim does not mince her words. In fact, page after page, the message screams out that the problem is right at our door step, so much so that according to one, the only way to miss out is not to look for it. According to Founder and Executive Director of Justice Society, Alisa Jordheim, there has been lots of attention given to overseas concerns, but little toward domestic areas. She writes with this in mind, beginning with descriptions of the sex trafficking problem far away, and then drawing readers to recognize the problem close by. She highlights the problem in a highly sexualized culture that blurs the line between adults and children, and makes commercializing sex seems ok. She blasts the rise of pornography, the sexually explicit materials in public, loose language, that these simply grooms the local culture to become very similar to what is happening elsewhere. In fact, Jordheim maintains that the problem at home is no smaller than the problem far far away.

The author puts together five compelling true stories to show us how innocent young children are pimped, deceived, and tricked. The first story deals with the "Loverboy Syndrome" where young girls with low self-esteem, who are lonely, homeless, conflicts at home, insecurity, or desperate, become manipulated by cunning pimps and "boyfriends" who would then establish some emotional ties. Once the bonding had been made, the "loverboy" pimp becomes the master to which the girls would slave for.  The story of Lindsey Nunn in Atlanta shows us how a pimp uses psychological manipulation to enslave girls. The second story is about "familial trafficking" where loved ones are the actual culprits involved in selling sex. Sold by their family in exchange for cash, food, debt, or drugs, it can be complicated and difficult for authorities to enforce laws. The story of Oregon's K.D. Roche is sad evidence of  how the sweet innocence of a nine-year-old girl being robbed by her uncle. Worse, the uncle even managed to transmit sexual favours through Internet chat rooms. The third story reminds us that sex trafficking also includes males. About 10 to 50 percent of sexual exploitation happens to young boys. Luke Robert Miller's story tells us that it is not just adult males but adult females who take sexual advantage of boys. The fourth story reveals the tactics perpetrators use to recruit young children into the sex trade. A key point is that a majority of such cases are victims who actually knew the traffickers personally. We see peers recruiting peers. We see the young bringing in the young. According to one expert, the "top five recruitment sites are malls, bus-stops, parks, playgrounds, and schools." Increasingly popular is social media and the Internet in which traffickers post anonymously and are not easily tracked by law enforcers. The story of Samantha is a sad case of how a promising young life is gradually destroyed by drugs, prostitution, and sexual violence. The fifth story is about kidnapping and how young kids can be taken forcefully against their will.

Thankfully, Jordheim supplies some practical tips to make a difference. It takes a community to will themselves to do something about it. Stories include how the McAfee Institute' social media investigation course had trained people to counter sex traffickers on social media; how the Girl Scouts created a website to increase awareness (www.teensontrafficking.org); and how everyday people can be passionate about the issue. Jordheim teaches us how to read the signs of trouble. She lists down the steps to take when we come across sex trafficking matters, from basic 911 calls to resources centers nationwide. Just being educated on what are the agencies and resources out there is already a very useful step forward. Readers can learn about the different terms and lingo used by pimps and sex trade workers. Learning to detect the underlying stress and trauma faced by helpless victims may very well save a young life from further exploitation.

This is a difficult book to read, emotionally that is. If it is hard to stomach the stories in it, what about the actual victims and assaults the young people had to endure? Jordheim's book is a wake up call to all of us that pornography and a sexualized culture breed a more dangerous industry: Child sex trafficking. It is nearer than many of us think.

Resource: Justice Society (link)

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of SpeakEasy and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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