• November 19, 2019

MEDICAL MATTERS: Modern-day Wild Wild West - Odessa American: Health

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MEDICAL MATTERS: Modern-day Wild Wild West

Dr. Sari Nabulsi, MD, MBA, FAAP, is senior Vice President CMO/CMIO at Medical Center Health System

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Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2019 8:45 am

The World Wide Web is the modern-day equivalent to the Wild Wild West. There are bad actors out there who will leverage your child's desire for privacy to groom them for exploitation while using otherwise legitimate apps. Do not give them this space or opportunity! Monitor lovingly & unapologetically!

One of the most emerging problem we are encountering nowadays is human trafficking. There 25 million people who are enslaved every year. In Texas, there are currently 313,000 people who are victims of human trafficking. Of those, there are 234,000 who are victim of labor trafficking and 79,000 minors and youth who are victims of sex trafficking. Traffickers exploit approximately $660 million form victim of labor trafficking. Minors and youth sex trafficking cost the State of Texas $6.6 billion.

If those numbers does not shock, you need to know that every day there are 400 to 500 posts a day in West Texas advertising sexual acts on websites such as Backpage.com. Part of the problem is those traffickers came from various backgrounds that it is difficult to pinpoint them. Most traffickers are often charismatic, charming and easy to talk to. About 67 percent of those who purchase services from victims are college-educated white men, 66 percent have children and 52 percent are married. The worst is: there are many apps that can facilitate trafficking, the worst is snapchat. Other apps like Apps like Kik, Whisper, Partyline and Periscope, ask.fm, omegle, yellow, whisper, hot or not, burn book, wishbone, are used to talk with friends. They are also used by pimps to build relationships. Periscope and Partyline are even more dangerous because they have GPS tracker on it. Like the old school, party lines back in the day where everyone could just pick up the phone and hear conversations going on, and it's a videotape app where you could see videos among others which is really dangerous for live time sexting and things of that nature. Be aware that some apps can be disguised as a calculator, called calculator%.

Target ages are 12-14 years old. The traffickers hang around malls, churches, school and community centers. Vulnerable population including runaways and children in foster care, victims of physical and sexual abuse, immigrants, impoverished people, hungry, poor or in debt and drug addicts or alcoholic, but can affect anyone at any time.

There are local and state agencies who are willing to help. The national antitrafficking number is (888)373-7888 or text help to 233733.

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