What is it that Justin Strom, Calvin Winbush, Alan Townsend, and Adrian Nicholas all have in common? They are all Social Media Pimps, and not the kind that can “pimp-out” your company online to the public. No, these are real pimps that have mastered the use of technology and exploiting teens on the streets and online.
How Prevalent is This Issue?
This is by far not a domestic incident. Human trafficking has been going on for years. A news story of 17-year-old Chimoy explains how she is not a victim herself. She, in fact, is the pimp. Child pimps in Indonesia are not uncommon. In fact, the National Commission for Child Protection has identified 21 child pimps. Instead of having a paid sexual encounter, Chimoy recruited a friend, and started the business from the ground up. She brought in over $3,000 a month, an incredible amount in such a poor country.
How Do They Entice Young Teens?
The leader of the gang, 27-year-old Justin Strom, and countless other Social Media pimps exist. They entice young teens, male and female, everyday into a world of prostitution. There is not a child that hasn’t heard the horror stories of prostitution. Teens learn about the dangers of predators from their friends, school authority figures, and even television. Yet, they still walk into the open trap.
Social media and technology have opened the doors for human sex trafficking through sites such as myRedBook, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, and Craigslist. They find young girls and tell them exactly what it is they want or need to hear. There is no one social class, ethnic group, or body structure they target. They seek teens that want attention or are in need of cash.
Teens wanting attention
Many troubled teens are seeking attention and affection. It’s easy for a pimp to find them on social networking sites. They look for the teens posting sexy or nude pictures, and those who promote their “bad habits” such as smoking or arrest records.
Teens in dire financial situations
Some teens, unfortunately, may know exactly what an internet pimp is asking for. They are looking for cash either because they are a runaway or their parents is not around. Once a pimp finds a target, they will compliment her on her looks and tell her how much money she can make on her own as a model. They may even have a female accomplice to make the teen more comfortable.
Social media pimps don’t always hide who they are. Many pimps have the letter P after their name, as an indication of being a pimp. However, they know their victims and will do or say whatever it takes to get their victims to meet them on their turfs.
The pimps are friendly and charming at first. They get them to believe they love them and will do anything for them. They become their boyfriends and want to do nothing more but educate them and take care of them at home; they will attend to their every need.
What Happens Next?
Once the pimps have the teen, the “take care of you attitude” soon vanishes. As reported in this CNN news story, “Nina” believed her online boyfriend, Justin, loved her. She needed and wanted him. She soon learned what his love was all about.
It was sex, lies, and drugs from there on out. Teens travel to hotels, cars, or meet at the pimp’s home where paying customers await.
Why Aren’t Our Teens Coming Home?
So why aren’t the teens just walking away and going back to their homes? Threats of violence and sedation with drugs and alcohol are the most common. However, many teens have no place to go. Or, they may feel so ashamed and have no idea how to talk and explain everything to their parents.
Some of the juvenile victims were threatened with violence and given drugs and alcohol to keep them sedated. They are forced into submission by repeated sexual assaults, convinced that if they go to the police, that instead of being seen as the victim, they will be arrested, Pimps threaten to out the victim to their community. There are ways to stop and prevent these acts, take a look at this Institute of Medicine PSA…
All children are a target, from every social spectrum. So parents need to become alert and recognize the warning signs. The FBI has an excellent Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety and it’s taught that ignorance is not an excuse. As children have access to social media, so do the adults. There are free courses available at the library teaching parents how to set up these accounts and how to monitor their child’s activity online. For more information on human sex trafficking, visit the Polaris Project’s National Human Trafficking Resource Center.