Yesterday the team met up with Jerry Peyton, founder and executive director of our new affiliate organization Sold No More to film an interview section for the documentary. After setting up the camera equipment and testing the sound we proceeded with the interview, Sold No More is a Tucson based non-profit organization whose mission is to end trafficking in Tucson. The interview covered the origins or Sold No More, their mission statement, as well as what they have done to end trafficking in Tucson already and what they plan to do in the future.
Jerry Peyton started the organization when he experienced tragedy in his own family when his 14 year old daughter became sex trafficked after running away. After this incident, his daughter insisted that Jerry look into the problem and what they could do to help other young women like her. Jerry, being a man of ministry and service wasted no time doing all the research he needed, starting up the organization, and creating a game plan.
When the organization first started out they wanted to create a shelter for trafficked children in Tucson. One of the largest issues in regards to Child Sex Trafficking is that aside from incarceration, there isn’t a place to hold the victims safely due to their high flight risk nature. Jerry wanted to create a safe and secure place for the victims, where they could rest, recuperate, and get back on their feet. However, when he initially spoke to law enforcement, they told him that Child Trafficking was not a problem in Tucson, only in Phoenix. When Jerry brought up the fact that teenagers were being arrested for prostitution, despite the fact that minors cannot legally consent to sex, it opened the eyes of the law enforcement and initiated a revolution of awareness.
Sold No More from that moment on, focused their efforts primarily on education; initially creating a training for law enforcement so they could become more aware of the problem and know how to handle it. But Sold No More didn’t stop there, they began training parents, medical professionals, and community leaders until they finally made their way to the best place to reach the children at risk for being trafficked, schools.
In the beginning there was hesitation both from administration and teachers; they were concerned about the fact that someone wanted to come in and talk to these 12-13 year olds about sex trafficking. However, after the first school, the discomfort and concern disappeared. “We haven’t had any trouble (with going into schools) since then.” Said Jerry Peyton during the interview. “The truth is, that with the rise of the internet, the trafficking is happening right in homes and children need to be aware of the dangers; it’s not on the street anymore.”
This disturbing revelation just reinforced the notion that the training needed to be brought to the children themselves. Jerry revealed that after he began doing trainings, he started getting children who would approach them after the presentation coming forward about being trafficked. Some of them had known what was going on prior to the training and just needed a safe space to talk about it and others had no idea they were being trafficked until they were trained on what sex trafficking really was. However, regardless of the situation of the children, the training empowered them to become truly aware of the threats and how it affected their everyday lives.
Sold No More follows the national recommendation for combating sex trafficking in the United States, practicing the 3 Ps; prosecution, protection, and prevention. The first P, prosecution, involves the investigation and arrest of both the traffickers and the buyers. Prosecution of the traffickers is difficult due to the fact that they are aware of how the system works and will stall the proceedings in any way they can to increase the chance that witnesses will flee or flee themselves. However, Arizona law enforcement, with training from organizations like Sold No More, are cracking down on these traffickers and prosecuting more and more.
The second P, protection, involves first the identification of victims and then providing those victims with the services that they need to get out of the cycle surrounding trafficking and get back on their feet. As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest barriers is creating a place that is equipped to deal with the high flight risk of the victims long enough for them to recover and re-enter society. So, part of this facet of the plan is to create shelters that can handle the victims’ needs.
The final P, prevention, is what Sold No More primarily focuses on and involves the education of the general public and raising awareness of the problem. As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power and the more people who know, the harder it is for traffickers to hide in the shadows. The more educated our parents and general adults are, the better they can recognize a situation that is potentially a sex trafficking situation and the more likely they are to know who to report it to. Furthermore, the more children who are educated about sex trafficking, the more likely they will be to recognize dangerous situations, red flags, and potential predators. In addition to general sex trafficking education, Sold No More also talks to kids about preventative measures they can take with internet safety to avoid potential dangers.
We (Vets 4 Child Rescue) are very excited to have gotten this interview with Jerry Peyton and Sold No More and are very excited to work with them in the future. We have discussed the possibility of Craig “The Sawman” Sawyer getting involved with some of the training programs in schools so we can extend the reach of both our organizations and support each other in our endeavors including Sold No More’s Walk 4 Freedom event to raise money for their Power over Predators program that is designed to prevent trafficking and support the youth of the community.
Moving forward with the documentary, we are looking to do more interviews with other non-profits dedicated to eradicating child trafficking, more professionals who have done research on trafficking in the United States, and survivors. It is coming along very nicely and we are excited to educate as many people as we can through this documentary and do our part in ending child trafficking!