Usually I write a kid-friendly post on Thursdays, but this post is very kid-unfriendly and definitely not recommended for children, although it’s about children, and it might be worth passing along some of the information to your kids (depending on their ages and temperaments) in order to protect them from being stolen.
Stolen is the biography of Katariina Rosenblatt, a lonely, abused adolescent living in Miami Beach who was lured into becoming part of a child sex-trafficking ring by the pretended friendship of a beautiful young woman (who was herself a prostitute and recruiter). It’s not the type of book that attracts me, but it was just recently published by Cec Murphy, whose writing (and person) I value highly, so I bought an audio copy, which Alan and I listened to on our 24-hour road trip down to Florida last month.
Did you know that there are over 20 million people who are bought and sold worldwide as slaves, the majority of whom are victims of commercial sex trafficking? 98% of those are female, and about 2 million children are exploited every year. (This doesn’t even consider non-commercial sexual abuse, which is much greater.)
Porn (most often using forced “labor”) is the fastest growing crime in the world. And, this most heinous crime isn’t just happening elsewhere. Human trafficking generates 9.5 billion in the U.S. alone, and there are some 300,000 children being trafficked in our country. Statistics indicate that 1/3 of all teens who leave home will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours.
“How can this happen?” you may wonder, but as Kat shares her story it becomes obvious: Kids feel lonely. Many children now live in one-parent homes with that parent working very hard to support the family and feeling quite distracted and emotionally fragile themselves. The kids are hungry for attention…for someone to notice them. Recruiters are beautiful, friendly, and satanically clever. They make the kids feel “special,” lovely…wanted. They gain the young person’s trust (sometimes children as young as 8, although the average age in the U.S. is 13-14), shower them with gifts and attention, and then they propose some “fun.” Often, a vicious cycle of loneliness, false friendship, lies, drugs, threats, and violence keep the victims trapped for years. It’s estimated that 90% of these young people are never rescued, and the majority die before they reach 30.
But, Kat is one of the survivors. She recounts her bone-chilling experience of falling into the trap as an adolescent, and her story makes you realize that these unspeakably evil things could happen to any unwary child or young person. The high school friend of your daughter could be a recruiter working for her dad who is a pimp. It happened. It happens! Think about it if you have school-aged kids. Don’t assume their friends are fine and the kids’ parents are goodhearted. Find out for sure before you let them go to slumber parties! The most important take home from the book for me is: Be there for your kids! Listen to them. Pay attention. Be watchful. Don’t take safety and goodness for granted anymore!
However, Kat’s book is not just a horror story blaring an alarm of danger. Kat was eventually able to break free. She now has a PhD and has dedicated her life to helping free those who are being trafficked. So, Stolen is more than a wake up call for us as young people and parents, it’s also an inspiring celebration of survival and a call to help if you can.
If you want help yourself, or if you want to help others, you can connect with Kat’s ministry here: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
“…And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
(2 Corinthians 11:14)