Our new prevention program goes further than protecting girls. It is also about addressing demand and pimp culture among male teens. Nine weeks ago four alleged ring leaders and 10 others were arrested on trafficking charges. They are accused of running an underage prostitution network that transported five girls around Colorado including the cities of Denver, Boulder, Glenwood Springs, and even Grand Junction. Some of the men are barely out of high school with ages ranging from 18 to early 20’s. Most of them attended Denver metro schools as did their victims. The indictment listed 70 charges against the 14 suspects (Denver Post). Our response was to aggressively finish our new prevention project for schools and outreaches to at-risk teens. This resulted in our first high school assembly co-hosted by Adams City High School and the Friends First mentoring program. Over 300 teens from all over the Denver metro were bussed in. The mixed media program teaches students and educators how to recognize and respond to teen trafficking. The assembly proved to have a strong impact on the kids, teachers, and volunteers. Our next assembly is Tuesday near Grand Junction.
Thousands of US minors are victims of trafficking each year. The FBI has rescued over 1,500 kids through their Innocence Lost initiatives in the last few years alone. They believe they are just scratching the surface. Unfortunately, those numbers are solid indicators that child trafficking and sexual exploitation is an enormous problem in the US.