Change.org sent me a disturbing email, claiming thousands of children would be brought to Dallas as sex slaves during the Super Bowl. I had to dig deeper. (More)

The Tuesday Digging Deeper Morning Feature surveys an ongoing news topic through multiple sources to invite in-depth conversation. Please check back over the coming days for additional comments. Today’s Digging Deeper explores reports that the Super Bowl is venue for sex slavery.

From Change.org’s website:

The trafficking of children for sale at the Super Bowl is well documented. Texas Attorney General [Greg] Abbott is taking a stand and has prepared a task force to identify and respond to traffickers who plan to sell children at the Super Bowl. However, it is not enough to expect law enforcement and victim advocates to bear the entire burden of responding to this issue, which is expected to include many victims. In support of the efforts of the task force, we are requesting the Super Bowl Host Committee embrace a proactive approach with community members by endorsing the “I’m Not buying It” campaign, which would raise awareness and deter the buying of children during the Super Bowl.

Apparently the Super Bowl Host Committee isn’t interested. I guess I can understand why they wouldn’t want to get involved in efforts to publicize this problem, but their job is to organize the event. That includes helping coordinate vehicle traffic. Shouldn’t it also include helping to reduce human trafficking?

On the other hand, is Change.org exaggerating when they say “thousands” of children will be trafficked in the Dallas area during the Super Bowl? No one has numbers, and we should recall the response when claims that domestic violence peaked on Super Bowl Sunday were proved untrue. Claiming “thousands” if actual statistics ultimately show fewer is the kind of public relations mistake that results in an important issue being dismissed as “left-wing hysteria.”

Apparently awareness of the problem is reaching local media. From the Dallas Examiner:

It’s estimated between 100 and 300 thousand U.S. children are trafficked within our own borders each year. Katie Pedigo, director of New Friends New Life, a Dallas area organization that helps sex workers escape the industry, told NBCDFW, she estimates 15,000 prostitutes will be brought into North Texas for this year’s Super Bowl. She also estimates  approximately 10%, some 1500 women and girls brought in from out of town, will be abandoned here, left to fend for themselves once the festivities have ended.

The problem has become so obvious that one pro footballer has made it a special cause. From the same article:

Dallas Cowboy, three time pro-bowler Jay Ratliff has joined the fight against the tragedy of child human trafficking. He has endorsed Traffick911, a Dallas-Fort Worth based organization, in it’s mission to raise awareness and stop child human trafficking. Mr. Ratliff has filmed a public service announcement for their ‘I’m not buying it campaign (watch here).

Nor does the publicity end at single voices that might be doubted.  From the Dallas Morning News:

Dallas police and federal officials Wednesday briefed U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Mayor Tom Leppert on efforts to crack down on an expected spike in sex trafficking surrounding Super Bowl XLV.”We know as a result of the Super Bowls held in other parts of the country that this is an occasion where the criminal element in our society will bring in people who are basically subject to involuntary servitude,” Cornyn said at a news conference after the private briefing at Jack Evans Police Headquarters.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the FBI have already pledged resources to combat human trafficking, and Abbott described the Super Bowl as one of the biggest draws for prostitution.

Estimates of how many prostitutes may flood North Texas in the coming weeks have varied widely, and Dallas police officials caution that there is no reliable way to quantify the increase surrounding the big game.

Two things seem evident to me from my research: human trafficking at the Super Bowl and other major sporting events is not new. The other thing is no one seems to have numbers, only wild guesses. And there’s a big difference between voluntary prostitution, and human trafficking. And in anybody’s book, turning children into sex slaves is the most repugnant crime of all. Indeed, the Texas Attorney general claims that children pressed into sexual slavery have an average life expectancy of 7 years. See change.org for that quote.

Regardless of what the Super Bowl Host Committee decides to do, there is no question the Dallas area is gearing up, preparing law enforcement and locals alike to do what they can.

KRGV reports that:

Assistant US attorney Terry Leonard says his prosecutors are taking more cases to court because more people are reporting trafficking.

The Department of Homeland Security including ICE will launch a new effort to get the word out about human trafficking. Tomorrow a public service announcement will begin airing. Its called the DHS Blue Campaign. The government will also use the Superbowl this year to educate people about human trafficking.

While the numbers seem fuzzy, everyone seems fairly certain about what is going to happen during the Super Bowl. And this year, no one is going to be quiet about it, except possibly the Host Committee.

I know everyone here disapproves of human trafficking, but I wonder how you feel about the Host Committee remaining mum on the subject.

Do they have a responsibility to condemn trafficking and prostitution?

Will their silence make any difference?

Did you know this was going on? Or has this publicity made your more aware?

Do you think this problem is being exaggerated because of the publicity that naturally surrounds a Super Bowl?

Any ideas on what we can do to put a stop to this horror?

I knew human trafficking existed, but I admit that I am shaken by estimates of 100 to 300 thousand children being involved in this country. If it’s that big, why don’t we know more and why don’t we do more? Even one child is one child too many.