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Sexual Trafficking: Do You Know Lacy? Printer friendly format

By Crispin Ketelhut

Associate Director of the VIRTUS Programs

We recently presented at a conference in Florida on the topics of pornography and sexual trafficking. Priorsad girl crying to the presentation, one of the participants informed us that the presentation would be much more effective with video excerpts of the subject contentto "spice things up." We certainly are not going to provide those types of photos/videos for you, but we will provide a snapshot of the reality of the sex trafficking of minors in the United States that has been provided to us by experts in the field. 

Below are some facts, figures and a video link to illustrate why the subject of sexual trafficking of minors is important for us here within the VIRTUS® Programs, and why we are incorporating the subject into our ongoing training content.

  • Did you know that 100,000 American children are exploited for sexual trafficking each year? This conservative number is from the Department of Justice, whereas various non-profit organizations denote there are as many as 300,000. Sexual Trafficking of human persons is a problem right here in America.1

  • Were you aware that the exploitation of American children is fueled by the purchasing and consumption of pornography? This is because victims of sex trafficking become part of the pool of videos and images circulated online.2

  • What about the fact that the average age a child is first exploited through "prostitution" or sexual trafficking is 13?3 The next time you see a female (or male) on the street corner, or hear about one and are tempted to think about the person as a prostitute, I urge you to reflect upon these numbers. And I invite you to ponder where she came frombecause data is showing that these girls started out as trafficking victims when they were kids. And many of them are still kids. 

  • Did you know that traffickers recruit from schools, malls, parks, protective shelters and social media websites? It can be as easy as picking out a child who has her head down in the mall, or sending a "friend" request or message via social media, such as Facebook.4

  • How about the fact that victims come from all demographics? Lacy was a member of a church youth group when she met her trafficker. I encourage you to take the next 4 minutes and 32 seconds from your day to view this YouTube video by clicking on the following link: Do you know Lacy?5

You might actually know this girl or someone like her. Lacy is not a strangershe could be a student in your parish or school. She could be a youth that you could help if you can identify some of the warning signs and were equipped to communicate your concerns. Girls like Lacy need you to step up and be heroes, to protect them from harm and abuse happening right here in our communities.

You can see that this is a grave matter that directly affects us in our roles as protectors of children and youth from sexual abuse. One of the first action items we can do to prevent the sexual trafficking of children is to inform ourselves more about the problem and dispel our own myths about this horrifying reality. Another goal we can achieve is to make sure that we are not glorifying the problem or exacerbating it. Over time, the VIRTUS Programs will be providing more information about those warning signs and what you can do. Thank you for being a part of the solution.




1. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking online publication. Retrieved from the internet on October 15, 2013:

2. U.S. Department of Justice. The National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction: A Report to Congress. Retrieved from the internet on June 10, 2014: 

3. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Human Sex Trafficking. Retrieved from the internet on June 10, 2014: 

4. Detective Bill Woolf, Investigator on the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force and Consultant to the VIRTUS Programs. Interview conducted in Washington, D.C., on March 11, 2014. 

5. Shared Hope International. Do you know Lacy? Online Video. Retrieved from the Internet on June 9, 2014:




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What is your opinion?
Were you previously aware of the answers to any of the five questions asked in the article regarding sex trafficking??
Yes, I knew all five, give me more!
Well, I knew more than one answer at least!
No, I wasn’t aware! It was shocking, but I want to learn more.
Nope, none, and I do not want to know any more on this subject.

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