How Terri Ingraham is working to end child trafficking
Imagine every seat taken at an NFL football stadium. Now imagine each seat, 79,000 total, representing a child in the state of Texas being sold into slavery. Whether they are forced through fraud, force or intimidation, children and teens are being trapped into a web of sex trafficking.
The average age of a victim, just 11-14 years old, should give us pause, especially if you’re a parent. These are children that are tricked, and not surprisingly, only have an average life span of seven years. The health issues are countless, from depression to sterility, PTSD to suicide, the list goes on and on. Even if they escape, the life-long road to recovery is expensive and complicated.
Terri Ingraham, founder of 501c3 beLydia, created the organization to “help women respond to the Gospel by using strategic hospitality to prevent child sex trafficking.”
How could this be going on in our community?
How is it possible that children in our schools are being sold for sex and no one is talking about it? Ingraham found anti-trafficking NGOs doing incredible work in restoration and some organizations working on changing legislation and education, but she found a real lack of support and awareness from the homes and churches in her Community.
“I’m a mom who was absolutely shocked that this is going on in our schools. Kids coerced into leaving lunch to go to a nearby home, where they are raped and then return to school. Why isn’t this information being shared clearly with parents? We can handle the facts but we first need to learn them. Everyone talks about bullying, and rightly so, but this is another way children are being bullied and manipulated.
Kids are taken to a party, drugged and then forced into sexual situations that are illegal, immoral and horrifying. These traffickers film everything and then threaten to share that with the world via social media. And just like that the kids are tricked, without even realizing they have been trafficked.”
beLydia uses hospitality to foster awareness to prevent child sex trafficking through their home, youth and community awareness programs.
- The Home Awareness Program focuses around beLydia’s “Party with a Purpose Kit” so anyone can help be empowered to help prevent trafficking.
- The Youth Program educates students so they understand the threat of trafficking while teaching them skills to keep themselves safe.
- The Community Awareness Program helps to educate larger groups helps set these groups up to be a resource for the vulnerable.
“When the veil is lifted and the community sees what is going on, we know people won’t stand for this. We need the help of the community to make a difference.”