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The following program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, a ministry program dedicated to bringing light into the darkness of human trafficking. It's time to light the way to freedom. This is Lantern Rescue. We tell the stories, we talk about rescues, and we empower you to do something about it.
William Wilberforce once said, let it not be said I was silent when they needed me. This is Lantern Rescue. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, and today we really do have another treat for you. We have Whitney and Ray with us, and with, you know, we usually are talking about sex trafficking around the world, but it's certainly just as big or maybe a bigger issue here in the United States, and so that's what we're going to talk about today, right, Whitney?
That's right. Yeah, you know, I know our audience is really accustomed to hearing some of those stories that are international because so much of our work does happen internationally, but we also have a domestic group that also works with the stateside even to really counter that human trafficking that's going on, and so we're really excited to take the opportunity and inform our listeners about what's going on domestically because, again, I know it's something that we don't often get to touch on, but we've got an awesome person here to kind of chat through what that looks like domestically and some of the things that he sees on the stateside of things. Wonderful, wonderful, and I'm assuming that's Ray.
Yes, that's me. So, Ray, please give us some insight. Okay, well, I guess we'll just kind of start from the beginning a little bit. I guess probably about four years ago we started having conversations about how do we have some level of effect on the growing, I guess, crisis in the United States as it pertains to crimes against children, and really not fully understanding how to navigate that. We knew that that responsibility falls at the feet of local law enforcement, so we began a journey to see how we could partner and help our local law enforcement agencies affect this growing epidemic of child exploitation, particularly as it pertains to internet crimes against children. And so that's kind of how we got involved in this in the beginning. At first when I started this, our main effort and focus was going to be on the sexual abuse and rape and the really hands-on offending of children in local jurisdiction, understanding that the biggest hurdles that local law enforcement agencies have to overcome is the lack of funding and the lack of manpower.
And they're just underfunded and under manpower to affect all of these, really the growing crime in general, really as it pertains to crimes against children, specifically in the wake of the COVID pandemic. So when we started this effort, I was able to partner with a local law enforcement agency, became a sworn agent for that law enforcement agency. Our vision was that we would be able to provide manpower and resources at no cost to the host agency so that our focus and efforts could be specifically on crimes against children. So I had a relationship with a local law enforcement agency, and we sat down, kind of discussed what that would need to look like.
And so we made a deal, for lack of a better way to say it. And so initially I started helping them investigate crimes, especially with child neglect, child abuse, anything basically dealing with children is where my efforts were focused. And when I had first began this work, I was aware of ICAC to a degree, but I really knew, and ICAC stands for Internet Crimes Against Children.
And I really didn't understand that to the level that I do today. And so when I started to get exposed to that, I realized that, wow, that is a part of the fight that is just so undermanned because of, for several reasons. One of those reasons is the caseload. The caseload is just mind numbing. In the state of North Carolina, last year we had around 18,000 cases of reported internet crimes against children.
And what that is, is that is the exploitation of children online, whether it be trading pornographic images or videos to the exploitation of those children, whether it be through solicitation, through grooming, which ultimately in a lot of cases leads to a hands-on offending. And so that's where I saw the greatest demand. And the reason for that is because of the large, just the hundreds of man-hours a lot of times it takes just to work one case and the tools and resources needed to do that are so expensive and a lot of the smaller agencies just do not have the money to do it and the manpower. There's a manpower shortage across the United States period in every industry and law enforcement is not immune to that. And so that's when our efforts said, okay, let's see if we can affect that by being able to raise money to have the forensic tools that the officers need, but not only from a resource standpoint for equipment, also we needed to be able to provide those agencies with investigators that can come alongside them and help enhance their abilities by having another set of boots on the ground to focus on these crimes against children. So that's really where our effort has began and what has led us up to where we are today. So Ray, can you kind of, for our listeners, give us an example of what you're seeing out there right now?
Yeah, sure. So I think one thing that is important is to kind of give our listeners a proper lens to view this, what we refer to as human trafficking or sex trafficking as it pertains to the United States. A lot of people just have a presupposition that when they hear the word sex trafficking that, you know, a child is abducted off of a school bus and is held in a cage somewhere or something like that.
And those incidents do occur, but they are so rare that that's not where our effort is focused. What we deal with was, first of all, you have to understand that the law describes the sex trafficking of a child is a minor under the age of 18 that trades a sex act, a sexual act, for anything of value. So that meets the legal definition of trafficking. And so really where our fight happens is where we focus most of our efforts is on the exploitation of these children. And that's where the internet crimes against children, the ITAC cases, the vast majority of those are literally focused on the exploitation of children, where children are putting their cells out there and images out there and being solicited for these sexual, these images and videos that are sexual in nature. And then they're being, those images are being exploited, and therefore those children are being exploited. And that's where the real fight is today in the US is really on the exploitation of children.
And that can manifest itself into sexual offenses with hands on offenders. Yeah. So can you can you tell us about an example of one of those? Wow.
Yeah, there's a, I have quite a few examples. But one that that really, I guess, probably one of the cases that is near and dear to my heart was I have a case where I have a minor child, very young, that was being, she's a step granddaughter to a man. And the child was, for lack of a better word, she was doing sexual things on social media apps with some of her friends.
Okay. Grandpa finds out about this. And she is a step granddaughter who has since been moved away. He doesn't really have access to her, but he was able to befriend her on social media. And then he started to, what we call in the work in this lot of work called catfishing, set up profiles to make that child believe that he was somebody that he was not. And he was having her do sexual acts on the internet. And he was she was sending those to him thinking he was someone else. And he was recording those and exploiting her and which is a very common case. But where this one kind of took a turn for me was he has a biological granddaughter that is the same age. And that biological granddaughter does not have a phone and is not on social media, but he had access to her. So it through our investigation, the investigation started as a child exploitation. But through our investigation, we realized that though he had not hands on offended his step granddaughter, who he was exploiting and was actively sexually molesting his biological granddaughter, who was just a pure victim in this process, as was his step granddaughter, but I mean, she didn't even have a social media presence or anything. And we see that a lot. It's I believe the statistic now is that about 86% of offenders that have been charged with the sexual exploitation of a minor when they are interviewed, approximately 86% of them confess to actually hands on offending either that child or a different child that they may have access to.
Wow. That's horrifying, isn't it? And unfortunately, what we're seeing also is that the vast majority and I hate saying this, but I think our listeners need to know this, especially our listeners that are parents, that when it pertains to the images, and the exploitation of our children, the vast majority of our victims are the instigators. So they're the ones that are putting these images out there, and they're in our predators are preying on those children and taking advantage of those children and exploiting them because these kids think it's somebody that it's not because of the social media. The overwhelming use of social media among our young people, these predators are preying on them through those social media apps that these children are unaware that that this person is some 40 year old male in a house somewhere a state over. So you would you I'm sorry, Ray, you'd use the term cat fishing, which, you know, I'm sure you guys are really familiar with that. But I, you know, I gotta admit, I'm familiar with it from a standpoint of if I go out to the lake, but I don't know what you're with what that means as far as you know what he was doing. Yeah, so cat fishing is a term that's used to really identify where somebody will set up a fake profile and portray themselves as somebody or something that they're just not.
For example, this individual is a 60 6061 year old male. And he was had set up social media accounts portraying himself as a 13 or 14 year old football player from a local high school. These victims more than likely would not even entertain a 60 year old man wanting a picture or video of that child, but they would entertain a what they believe to be a age appropriate person that they develop a online social relationship with and they're getting their needs met through that relationship. And these predators will spend a tremendous amount of time and energy and effort to understand what makes these kids tick. What do they like? What are they into? And they use that information to groom them to solicit these type of images and videos from them. And that's what we refer to as catfish.
Wow, we have to go to a break. But I know that's really helpful. And I'm sure all our listeners can see more how we can pray how we can parent better, you know, what what we're up against. And of course, we'll be right back with a whole lot more with Whitney and Ray with today's Lanter Rescue. Lanter Rescue is a USA based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Lanter specializes in sending former US Special Operation law enforcement and intelligence personnel to partner with host nations and assist them in creating specialized units to combat ongoing security problems, such as genocide, terrorism, and human trafficking.
As a nonprofit charity, they offer services free of charge to their host nations. Human trafficking has grown into the second largest criminal activity in the world reaching an estimated $150 billion in annual activity. Lanter Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Lanter operates through a trained international network in order to rescue women and children from sex and labor slavery, and facilitates holistic aftercare services.
They're gearing up for operations right now and you can go to lanterrescue.org to see how you can support them financially. Welcome back to Lanter Rescue. And today we're talking about domestic sex trafficking. And boy, we're learning a whole lot from Ray and Whitney about kind of where that where that is sitting domestically.
And I know I've learned a lot. But Whitney, getting back to the whole parenting thing, this is just critical, isn't it? It is.
It is. You know, unfortunately, Robbie, our kids are growing up in a different world than we did, right? And so, access to anything is at their fingertips. And unfortunately, so much of those social media and, well, media in general, is teaching our kids that they develop their self-worth by what others think of them, right? And so to, you know, as a parent, the idea that your child would be sending inappropriate pictures is probably enough to make every person listening right now cringe.
The idea of your sweet child being the one to do that seems like it would never happen. But the pressure is on. The pressure is on for these kids, for our youth. And, you know, we know that the enemy at hand is, you know, a spiritual one, right? But we also have the physical enemies that are working and operating in that playground of self-doubt. And that's what we see here. That's where you're seeing this trafficking and exploitation excel, is in this area of self-doubt for our children.
They think that their worth is solely developed in the opinions of others. And what we have seen media-wise is, you know, we can see the cultivation of everything sexual, whether it be in a commercial, whether it be in a movie, whether it be in the advertisements they're receiving on their Instagram. I mean, it is like, in order to find that worth and value, you have to throw it all out there and nothing is hidden.
And that's what's being sold to our 10-year-olds, our 8-year-olds, our 13-year-olds. And that is why the presence of a parent is so incredibly important. To remind them, hey, you know what?
I don't know if anybody told you today, but, you know, I love you and I love you because you are strong and you are courageous, you know? And start building out that character of your child because they need that affirmation to know that they are so much more than what their bodies are. And I just, I think that, as coming from a parent perspective, I think that is something we could all be better at.
So, it's so easy to overlook those sweet moments of consideration, right? But they, our kids need that because the world is against them in training them to think that their worth is found in how they, um, what they're willing to show of themselves physically. You know, especially our females, but our young boys are being sold the same lie and they're also being sold the fact that a woman's worth is developed in how she looks and what she's willing to reveal. So, we got to talk to our little boys and girls too about both sides of it, what that worth looks like and who they are really in Christ more than anything.
Darrell Bock Oh, really. And really, you know, unfortunately, we don't tell people, you know, the things that we really admire about them in general is when it comes to their character. And so, our children all the more, right? They hear, no this, don't do that. They hear all that stuff, but they don't hear, you know, how wonderful they portrayed Christ when they did this or, you know, how neat it was when they did that and to find ways to reflect for them how they look like Jesus.
I taught a Sunday school class one time and I had the kids all put a sign on their back and had the other kids write on their back how they thought that child looked like Jesus to them. You know what that was? Well, would you believe that when we did a reunion about three years later and people ask, what was your favorite class for the whole two years? I taught it.
Everybody still had their paper. Why? Because we never hear about the good things about us.
And so, I couldn't agree with you more, Whitney. This is just critical. And of course, those groomers are going to tell them how beautiful they are and what they got going on and whatever else that they need to hear. Just like Ray said, they're getting their needs met by somebody that isn't going to tell them they're bad. He's obviously looking for, you know, ways to show them that they're good so that they'll give them more, right? That's right. And Ray can probably attest to that even further. Yes, Ray, I'm sure that you, that's exactly what they're doing, right? Well, that becomes the exploitation component, right?
So, that's part of that grooming process. And, you know, from kind of to, I guess, connect with what Whitney was saying is, you know, from a parenting standpoint, it starts with that parent understanding the truth. That they can share that with their children because when it comes to self-worth and self-value, we compare ourselves to so many different things and so many different people. When the truth is this, that the very God that spoke this world into existence and created all things that are beautiful, that God created me in His image. There's nothing more valuable than that. That's what separates us from every other creation that God created. We were created in His image. And if I understand that as a parent, and can articulate that and express that to my children, they will grow up understanding that their value comes to their identity in Christ.
And that's the truth. That's, you know, going back to what you said earlier about how do we fight this and how do we combat this? It starts there. What we're doing on the, from an enforcement standpoint, and the reason why we even exist as an organization, not only domestically, but internationally, is because we're cleaning up the mess. When it starts with the truth of, hey, this is who we are.
And that's why I feel so passionate about the work that Landon's doing. Because though we are affecting this, both domestically and internationally, at the tactical level, we have but one common goal. And that is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. And if we do not make that front and center, all the other efforts we're doing is just offering temporal reprieve from suffering. That's it. Because the only one that can truly set the captives free is Christ. And it's important that we understand that message.
Darrell Bock No, absolutely. Absolutely. As we can illustrate, you know, ways that our children actually do reflect God, you know, because they are made in his image. You couldn't reinforce that any better.
And especially the fact that Jesus chose to die for them. It's a definite value statement, right? So— Ray Cross That's the gospel, the good news, right?
Darrell Bock Exactly, exactly. So, Ray, I understand there's this new term called sextortion, which I honestly have not heard. Can you speak to that for us? Ray Cross Wow, yeah, I'm glad you brought that up, because that is something that we are seeing starting to trend, especially with our young people across the United States. And this is something that our listeners and our parents really need to be aware of.
And this is why it's so important that we as parents stay engaged in the social media activities that our children are doing online. Sextortion, it's been around, but it has really—we've seen a large uptick in it recently. And basically what I'm referring to when I use that term, the term sextortion, it's really where a—and young boys tend to be large targets of this, even though females are as well. But we're seeing this a lot with young boys, where they will be solicited by a female.
One of the cases that I worked on sextortion, one of my recent cases, was about a 15-year-old boy that was solicited by a—I'm not sure how old she was, maybe 18 to early 20s. She was solicited. She had made a—started a online relationship with him, convinced him to—they were exchanging sexual videos. They were having virtual sex, for lack of a better way to say it. She had then convinced him to perform some sex acts on video, on live chat. And she was able to—and I'm not sure the right word for this—but she was able to integrate in images of another young boy doing this same thing. And then once she had that, she captured that video and then extorted him financially, saying, hey, I'm going to put this out across all of your social media platforms if you don't give me X amount of money. And so surprisingly enough, that turned out not to be the 20-year-old girl he thought it was, hence back to our catfishing term. And we're seeing this across the board with young boys and young girls alike, where these girls, not only are they being solicited—young boys and girls—they're being solicited to give images over the internet, to perform sexual acts on social media platforms, and then they're being extorted financially to prevent those images from being broadcast across all their friends' lists. And it's led to a lot of suicides in young people, and all types of issues that, once again, just another way that these children are being exploited.
But parents need to be keenly engaged in the social media activity of their children. Darrell Bock Not just the girls, right? Yeah, that's the shocking one, and I'm so glad you brought that up.
That was a boy, right? And so, it's both sides of the aisle there. Dr. Gerry Breshears 100 percent.
And the sextortion is—we're seeing a lot of young males that are involved in that. Darrell Bock Oh, my goodness. Well, I know we're kind of running short. Ray, can you kind of share with us what separates Lantern, from your view, from some of the other agencies out there in this battle?
Dr. Gerry Breshears Sure. I think that one of the big things that separates our effort is this, is using, you know, historically having the international model that all of the services and resources that Lantern provides internationally, we provide at no cost to the host nation. I think that we agreed very early on in this, that we were going to provide this, you know, continue that same model domestically. So, our intent is to be able to provide local law enforcement, DSS, PPS offices, Attorney General's offices, partner with everyone that's involved in the—in crimes against our children. We wanted to be able to provide them the tools and resources, whether it be the digital forensic tools, the equipment to be able to do—because this is a digital fight, and those tools are extremely expensive. And the maintaining licensing and certifications are extremely expensive. And a lot of the smaller agencies just do not have those tools to effectively fight this fight.
But tools are one thing. Where we separate ourselves from the pack is that we are also providing investigators to come alongside these agencies to help them with additional manpower to be able to actively engage in this fight. So, not only are we partnering with a local agency and saying, hey, we're going to provide you with hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment that you would not be able to afford, but not only that, we're going to provide you with an investigator that will aid your agency in being able to operate that equipment and to conduct these investigations. And that—we provide that at no cost to the host agency simply because our efforts can then become laser-focused on crimes against children. We're more than willing to use our equipment and resources to affect other crimes should the need come.
However, nothing will ever be prioritized over the crime against the child as long as we have a partnership with that agency. Darrell Bock Wow, you can see there's much to pray about and to really share this podcast, this broadcast with friends, right? I mean, we need to get this word out. And so, as God puts it on your heart, somebody to share that with today, man, share it because, wow, wouldn't it be nice to know that some child got protected before it was too late? And I'm so grateful for all of those who pray for Landon who participate financially with us again. As God puts that on your heart, it's lanternrescue.org. Thank you so much, Whitney. Thank you so much, Ray, for all you guys are doing. God bless you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-25 14:25:52 / 2023-02-25 14:36:08 / 10