A pimp knows how to groom a girl to get her ready for the life, how to take a girl from her square world and into the life. A square world is a “normal” world, not the life. “Groom” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a verb that means “to get into readiness for a specific object.” The object that pimps groom toward is prostitution and a life of making him/her money. This is a life of slavery and abuse.
We need to take a good, hard look at the grooming process if we’d like to prevent sex trafficking. We need to look at who is being targeted and how we can help. If we are willing to open our eyes, be bold enough to ask hard questions, and willing to share our life with the most vulnerable, maybe we can prevent sex trafficking before it begins. If we can be wise, we can have a good prevention game. A game way better and more life-giving than that of the pimps!
Prevention work is not always easy and not always measurable. It is the work of being unrelentingly alert and kind. It is knowing, hearing, and acting on our impulses to help women and girls in our community avoid troubles. This is hard at times as teenagers tend to flip adults an “I don’t give a care” attitude, but if we can see through all the pain, continuing to speak a kind word, we CAN prevent sex trafficking. We need people who are willing to encourage youth.
We can groom for kindness and positive change taking the page out of the pimp’s book, using it for good and not evil. Much of what looks like grooming can also be healthy relationship behavior, the difference being intention. What do you intend for the person you are being nice to? Is it to harm them? To use them? Or to encourage them? One kind word to someone who only hears negativity can go a long way; it can make a change. Everyone wants someone to like them and be kind, treating them like they matter.
According to Savannah J. Sanders’ book “Sex Trafficking Prevention: A Trauma-Informed Approach For Parents And Professionals””, “Children who bond with at least one caring adult are more likely to overcome the lasting effects of adversity.”I can be that one adult. You can be that one adult. It really is about caring for those who are uncared for. Now that we’ve looked at ACEsand poverty, we can look for those who might be experiencing these symptoms and be kind to them. We can seek out the same girls as the pimps, instilling in them worth. It Kind words are more effective coming from all sorts of different voices in the community, too. We can use words -actions to love on at-risk kids.
I will spend the next few days looking at risk factors for grooming, who grooms, what grooming looks like, and what happens when grooming is over. These are important things to examine if you would like to make a difference. We can spot these girls before the pimps and stop the grooming process before it happens. This will take practice; we will need to exercise our kindness muscles and use them. We might not be good at encouraging now, but we can be, and if we want to prevent sex trafficking then it is imperative.
Being kind to children who are difficult is something we need to practice in our community. Often times these children are acting out of their abuse, neglect, and troubled home lives. They are having a rough time in life at home and school. Someone who sticks with them through thick and thin, though good attitudes and bad, can make an impact on their life. They have plenty of people who use negative words to them like punk, jerk, idiot or the adult version of those words. All we need to do is be kind to them. Show them that there is a different way.
This doesn’t mean we don’t have rules or boundaries with them, it is that We get to model healthy boundaries and rules, abiding by them so the children we are influencing will too. Accountability is part of being kind; we all need limits to help keep us in check. We need to model this for the children in our community. We need to be able to say that these behaviors are unacceptable, but still accept the child himself. Practice and patience, grace and accountability are what will prevent grooming and trafficking.
For the evils of grooming to continue in our community, people must keep their mouths shut, not share the kindness they feel. Instead, let us speak because we care. Let us speak because we love. Let us speak so that we can give these children another option in life. I am different now than I was raised because of good men and women who showed me a different way in life through their words and actions.
If you are a parent, find the kids at school who don’t have self-esteem and encourage your kids to be kind to them. Kind and sincere words from a peer go a long way. We can encourage our kids to be kind to those who are on the outside. This might cost a bit of popularity, but the payoff for the one on the receiving end is huge. We can encourage and set the expectations for our kids to be kind. That means we have to model it. A kid that doesn’t care about popular but trade that in for kindness will be loved and that is deeper than popularity.
We can groom for love and health in our community. We can do this. You never know the impact that you might have. Is it easy? Nope. Is it time consuming? Sometimes. Is it worth every minute? Absolutely. Showing love and health in our community is life giving. Our entire community reaps the benefits of your kindness and you will too. We can out-groom the pimps with love. We can prevent sex trafficking.
#TeamMitchellBoys is raising awareness this month and also fund for Peoria Home. Peoria Home is just one place where we can put our deepening understanding to practice.
Sex Trafficking Prevention: A Trauma-Informed Approach For Parents And Professionals. By Savannah J. Sanders. Page 112