2018-03-08 / Front Page

Sex trafficking presentation offers details about unknown

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — The Michigan State Police recently offered a presentation about sex trafficking at Bendle High School.

Trooper Steve Kramer, community service trooper and recruiter for the Michigan State Police, told students the word ‘pimp’ doesn’t mean cool, saying he’d seen teenagers and younger dress up as a pimp for Halloween.

Kramer showed the students a picture of rapper Snoop Dogg standing next to two women the rapper had on leashes. He asked the students if they would have a problem with it if they saw their mother and grandmother on leashes and asked why it was OK for someone else’s relatives to be treated that way.

Kramer and Trooper Amy Belanger, a fellow community service trooper and recruiter for the Michigan State Police, showed students the documentary “Chosen.” Kramer said the documentary was not dramatized or made for TV.

In one story on the documentary, a young lady was invited to a party after school in the eighth grade. There, she met an older man she thought was cute. As the two individuals grew closer, the man bought her a dress and made her feel like a “princess” or “queen.”

Then, he started saying he was going to lose his house and car. The young lady said she would help him. He took her to a strip club at age 13, where she felt uncomfortable. When she left the room, he got very upset.

Shortly afterwards, a group of men in their 40s and 50s raped her in a car and it was videotaped. She was told if she did not do what her traffickers wanted her to do, the videotape would be shown to her family, friends and church youth group. The traffickers also threatened to get her 10-year-old sister and beat up her family if she did not do what they wanted.

Kramer told students perception refers to how someone sees something, and one perception is that people who are being trafficked choose to do so.

“They have terrible living conditions and barely get to eat,” he said. “Nobody would choose this lifestyle.”

Belanger and Kramer showed the students a progression of what an individual being trafficked looked like before and after. The victim had black eyes in some of the after pictures. The young woman, who was 16 in the before picture, appeared to be in her 50s after a 1½ year period and had lost teeth, possibly from having them punched out or due to using methamphetamine, which is known as meth mouth.

Belanger described a situation in which she was asked to model at a man’s home studio as a younger person and said she could have ended up being trafficked if she did not have the relationship she had with her parents.

According to statistics given at the presentation, 35 percent of those trafficked are sold into it by their own family, 90 percent of all children trafficked for sexual purposes in the United States are from the United States and the average life span of a trafficked child is 7 years.

Kramer said 25 percent of all sex trafficking victims are males, who could get blackmailed after sending inappropriate pictures to who they believe are females.

The troopers said the youngest victim of sex trafficking they had heard of was 4 months old.

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