• Kleinert Foundation

Weekly Reader October 25, 2019

By: Hannah Rabalais, Program Officer

1. Jada Pinkett Smith in Dallas Raising Awareness About Human Trafficking

By: NBC 5 News, Laura Harris

"Texas ranks second in the U.S. for the highest number of trafficking victims and it's a crisis that isn't getting enough attention, according to New Friends New Life, a Dallas-based nonprofit.

That was the theme of this year's New Friends, New Life luncheon. The non-profit has been working tirelessly to end human trafficking. Four-hundred teenagers in the Dallas area are trafficked each and every day. A statistic that stunned the luncheon audience of nearly 1,000, but a statistic guest speaker of which Jada Pinkett Smith is very familiar.

"There are a lot of young girls that don’t make it. I know some," Pinkett Smith said as she fought back tears. "This is an epidemic in our country."

NBC 5's Laura Harris moderated the discussion with the actress, producer, director, activist and humanitarian, who has been a long-time advocate for sex trafficking survivors. She's helped shed a light on the issue here in the U.S., specifically through a 2014 documentary that looks at child sex trafficking in Atlanta."

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2. Neighbors Serving in the Wake of Dallas Tornado

By: Dallas Doing Good, Jan Osborn

"In response to Sunday night’s tornados, neighborhoods and communities around the Dallas area are coming together to distribute food and supplies, and lend a few extra hands. On Tuesday a team from Prestoncrest Church of Christ partnered with Dallas City Councilman Adam McGough and staff (District 10), US Congressman Colin Allred and staff (District 32), along with other neighbors and volunteer groups, to serve in the hard-hit, northeast Dallas neighborhood of Hamilton Park.

The work involved clearing and cleaning trees, branches, and debris, trash on streets, helping to find resources for those without power, particularly the elderly. "Dallas represents lots of backgrounds and differences, but we’re at our best when we come together, to love and serve our neighbors,” said Gary Cochran, minister of Singles and Urban Missions at Prestoncrest."

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3. North Texas Residents, Community Take Action to Combat Human Trafficking

By: Kim Roberts, The Texan

"Successfully fighting human trafficking isn’t a job law enforcement can do alone. In fact, because many victims are afraid to talk to law enforcement officers, the help of community groups who specialize in assisting victims of human trafficking is essential.  

In 2016, the Fort Worth Police Department formed the Tarrant County 5Stones Task Force to work more closely with community groups and share resources, events, and efforts, said program coordinator Felicia Grantham.  

They’ve definitely seen the benefits.  

Rebekah Charleston, executive director of Valiant Hearts, knows first-hand what it is like to be a victim of human trafficking. She grew up in the quiet community of Keller in a “very normal family.” 

Human trafficking includes “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age,” according to the United States Code."

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5.The dark side of Dallas: Bus tour reveals hidden stories behind human trafficking

By: Byron Harris, MSN

"Matt Osborne, a former CIA operative, stands with a mic at the front of a small bus, which will cruise around Dallas County. He is telling stories about some of the biggest trafficking busts in Dallas on a tour hosted by nonprofit New Friends New Life

He shares information gathered from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Dallas police and the Office of Homeland Security records. 

About 20 men and women are on the bus tour to learn about the sexual abuse area teenagers experience. 

Authorities struggled to prove that a pimp sold the 15-year-old girl. 

Traffickers use lookouts and limit contact with customers and the girls. The teenager, in this case, claimed she didn’t know the pimp, despite text messages proving otherwise, Osborne tells the bus passengers. 

Then she told investigators that the pimp was actually her boyfriend. 

“She was afraid,” Osborne says. 

That fear was shown in the text messages. 

“When are you gonna post another ad that I’m available?” she asked the man before asking when she could take a nap. 

“You take a nap when I tell you can,” he replied, the texts show. 

The man did not face sex trafficking charges, but he was convicted of possessing child pornography. 

“What got him was his phone,” Osborne says. “He had semi-nude picture of the girl on his phone.” 

Text messages on the phone also showed details of the meeting at NorthPark and the coercive nature of the relationship between the girl and the man. 

He was sentenced to five years in prison."

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6. What a Houston teen’s suicide teaches us about sex trafficking

By: Michael Hogue, Dallas Morning News

"Though the attribution is disputed, the writer C.S. Lewis is said to have quipped: “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” It may be closer to the mark to say humans are primarily neither one nor the other. Each of us is a complex, interconnected system of body, soul, mind, will and spirit. That’s why, as the medical community has recognized for years, emotional trauma like grief, neglect or PTSD can manifest with physical symptoms like hypertension, sleeplessness, or weight gain. The converse is also true: physical trauma can have lasting effects on a soul.

Such seems to be the case with a Houston teen named Leticia Serrano, who was abducted two years ago and sold to sex traffickers. According to her parents, she was kidnapped, drugged and abused by multiple men. The ordeal lasted several days, and then she was rescued. Recycled is more like it. Her trafficker used her and then abandoned her in a local park like such much human litter. After that, Serrano did her best to live like a normal teenager, but the experience haunted her. Her parents said she couldn’t live with the pain. Last week, she took her own life.

Serrano’s case highlights an important truth in our state’s ongoing fight against the scourge of sex trafficking: Our response must go further than laws and policies. The work doesn’t end with the physical rescue. In fact, that’s really just the beginning."

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7. Laura Bush welcomes Myanmar leaders in tour of Bonton Farms

By: Dallas Morning News

"The scholars came from a range of professional jobs, from fledgling nonprofits for street youth, to a voting advocacy group to the United Nations World Food Programme. One Myanmar man was even born in a border clinic that the first lady once visited as she championed the Myanmar people.

Daron Babcock, the founder and executive director of Bonton Farms, told the group his own story of hard luck, redemption and why he came to live in the Bonton neighborhood, a white man in a black community.

“We are all better when our neighbors are successful,” Babcock said.

Babcock arrived in 2011 and by 2014 had started the farm in what was once a food desert with high incidences of diabetes. Today, the farm has grown into a 40-acre operation that employs nearly three dozen people. An attached restaurant opened last year and they sell their own brand of honey.

“You don’t have to change the world,” Babcock told the group. “You have to change a percentage of the world and they become the change agents.”

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