Voice of Hope urges Lubbock to take a stand against human trafficking
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A Lubbock organization reminds South Plains residents that human trafficking happens more frequently, and closer to home, than they realize.
This comes after a Lubbock man, 22-year-old Dimitrise Lyghts, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a child on Tuesday. He could possibly spend the rest of his life in prison for this crime.
RELATED STORY: Lubbock man pleads guilty to child sex trafficking
As the community educator for Voice of Hope, Leslie Timmons considered this plea agreement a victory.
"It's a very typical case and we're happy with the outcome," Timmons said. "It has all the elements of grooming, of manipulation and brainwashing…using Backpage to traffic the girls."
This case happened in June 2016, and even though Backpage has had to shut down its adult section since then, Timmons said that does not mean the problem is gone.
"We know there's something right behind it that's going to take the place of whatever website has been taken down," she said, "so it's important that we be vigilant and continue to combat sex trafficking here on the South Plains."
In 2016 alone, Timmons said they assisted on 418 sexual assault cases. 55 of those were sex trafficking cases.
The average age of these victims, Timmons said, is from 12 to 14 years old. She said they are typically targeted through social media.
"When they find that vulnerability, they really concentrate on that and try to befriend the girl or boy," she said. "They try to make that connection so they will gain the trust, and once the trafficker has gained the trust of the kids, they can really get them to do anything."
Timmons reports that 100,000 to 300,000 kids are at risk of sex traffic recruiting nationwide. In order to combat this, she believes communities need to unite.
"We have to address the demand because if there's no demand, there won't be any supply," Timmons said, "and we have to address that as well…that it's not okay to buy anybody for any reason. A human being shouldn't be for sale. It is modern day slavery."
There are several ways to help out with the fight against human trafficking locally. Coming up next month is Voice of Hope's annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march, which raises money to fight sexual assault and sex trafficking locally.
It takes place April 22 at the South Plains Mall. You can register day of or online: http://www.voiceofhopelubbock.org/walk-a-mile.html
You can also call a sexual assault and sex trafficking hotline any time at (806) 763-7273.
Copyright 2017 KCBD. All rights reserved.