I found this article about human trafficking within the United States. It mentions Marla Gene Owen, a fourteen-year-old runaway from California who was profiled on Charley. She got involved in prostitution pretty much instantly and was eventually taken out of state. It was very sad. But her father was dedicated to finding her and he never stopped looking. Marla finally came home on her own, but by then she had a drug problem and she continued to run away from home and get in trouble with the law. She now 19 years old and estranged from her father. The article provides a good summary of how ordinary teenage girls get sucked into that kind of life:
Turner said Marla met the profile for victims of human trafficking perfectly. She was shy, quiet, not likely to question those she perceived as being in charge and had fragile self-esteem.
The girls often don’t get, or don’t think they get, enough attention and affection at home, the detective said.
The pimps are almost always well into their 20s, and often in their 40s while the average age of most victims who fall prey is 12, Turner said.
The pimps also put victims through a program of sorts, one well-documented and glorified in movies and books, that includes a period of charm training and gifts as well as abuse and molestation, Turner explained.
(Good god, that profile sounds like ME as I was ten years ago.)
Ellen Hopkins’s novel Tricks, about five teens from different parts of the country who all become prostitutes for different reasons, features one character from a wealthy family who fits that profile to a T — except she was a little older, fifteen. She wasn’t close to her parents or her sister, and she and her mother really didn’t get along. She met a pimp who suckered her into running away with him and within weeks he’d gotten her addicted to heroin and soon had her turning tricks and doing child porn in Vegas.
I would like to share stories like this with people who wonder why the cops bother to look for teen runaways.