Two years ago, when Brazoria County saw multiple people charged with trafficking underage girls for sex, area residents responded with a mix of denial, victim-blaming and demand for information and action.
Community forums saw big audiences and programs were presented in area schools for children to help identify potential traffickers and their victims among their classmates. Parents learned more about another way their children were imperiled by technology than they ever cared to consider.
A year later, after dropped jaws had returned to their normal position, attendance at community trafficking forums could be best described as a smattering. The experts on hand to share information outnumbered the number of everyday residents to share that information with. It’s as though people thought since they hadn’t seen a headline in a while, the problem had just evaporated.
It did not. It’s still here, it’s still hidden and there still are too many parents in denial that their child could be at risk or already a victim.
Perhaps last week’s forum organized by Refuge for Women of the Texas Gulf Coast just happened at the right time, days after a headline about the sentencing in a trafficking case linked to Manvel High School. We’d prefer to think the awareness campaigns about the issue are finally starting to connect and people wanted to learn more about how to protect our teenagers and young adults.
“We have to raise awareness, then comes prevention, then comes rescue, then comes after care,” Vicki Kirby, development director of the local Refuge for Women, told the audience last week at Lake Jackson Civic Center.
Brazoria County remains at the awareness stage, but Thursday’s turnout shows some progress on that front. To continue that progress, everyone from the forum needs to help share what they learned with the deniers and victim-blamers so the community can do more to prevent the problem from spreading.
Dream Center’s mission shown in school bash
Brazoria County Dream Center’s idea to collect items so local children have what they need for the start of the school year wasn’t a new one. Countless churches, nonprofits and caring businesses do the same every summer, giving needy families a valuable boost that can improve their lives for the long term.
What the Dream Center has done for more than a decade with its Back 2 School Bash goes well beyond those routine drives, however, and merits applause year after year.
Terri Willis and the nonprofit’s bevy of volunteers work throughout the year to gather more than pencils, notepads and backpacks. They collect hundreds of pairs of shoes and distributes shopping carts of food that will provide meals for families for the whole first week of school, perhaps longer. Children also get gym packs stuffed with personal care items.
When families left the Dream Center property Friday and Saturday in Clute, there were few things they would still need to provide a foundation for their children’s success when school starts this month. The center had them covered from soap for the head to shoes for the feet.
A round of applause to the folks at the Dream Center for what they do at back-to-school time, and continued clapping for every other organization that does its part to support local families of limited means by giving our youngest residents the tools to succeed.
Video game decision shows misdirected aim
In the week after a gunman walked into an El Paso Walmart and shot almost four dozen people — almost half of them dying and most with Hispanic surnames — Walmart has been victimized again by rumors nationwide of other planned attacks.
It didn’t help that a man in Missouri thought it a good idea to walk into a Walmart carrying a loaded rifle and wearing body armor Tuesday. He wanted to see if the retail giant would live up to its vocal support of gun rights. He faces charges of making a terroristic threat.
It also didn’t help that a gun control advocate in Florida went up to the gun counter at his local Walmart and, according to police, asked the clerk, “Can you sell me anything that would kill 200 people?” The clerk answered, “That isn’t funny.” The man left and, after police tracked him down hours later, said he just wanted to make a point.
What neither of the men intended to do in a Walmart that day was buy a video game. They wouldn’t get an impulse to do so either because Walmart, in response to its mass shooting, decided to remove advertising signage for video games. It also will not show ads for violent entertainment offerings on its television displays.
It will, however, continue to sell weapons that can kill 200 people.
Walmart is a big boy and can decide for itself what it wants to sell. But something strikes us as misguided to react to a violent act by removing items that repeated studies have failed to prove cause people to commit violent acts. It makes as much sense as removing pretzels and peanuts to keep people from drinking too much, but still selling wine and beer.
Video games are a convenient scapegoat, but it defies logic for the same people to argue shootings are a people problem not a gun problem, and also argue a game controller is a deadly weapon.