TULSA, Okla. — It’s become a trending topic on social media in 2020.
Rumors are circulating online about elaborate sex-trafficking rings dedicated to abusing children.
These online rumors are shared thousands of times by those who have good intentions, but these stories can distract from the very real issue.
The latest rumor alleges the furniture website Wayfair is a front for a high-dollar child trafficking organization.
“With that particular conspiracy theory is what I call it; there was really no validity to it, but it gives us an opportunity to be able to talk about the real issue that it really does happen. It's not, it does happen online, but it's not to that scope the way they were addressing it on the Wayfair. So that it gives us an opportunity to really talk about what's really happening, and give people an opportunity to know what we're doing and what other reputable organizations are doing,” said Jason Weis, co-founder of The Demand Project.
Weis and his wife, Kristin, founded The Demand Project in Tulsa.
The organizations mission is to prevent and prosecute sex-trafficking cases as well as rescue and restore sex-trafficking victims.
Mount Arukah is the organizations latest project set to open in just a few weeks in August. The group has been working to open the campus for nearly three years.
Mount Arukah will be a safe place for survivors to rebuild their lives.
“What we're going to do through Mount Arukah, the campus, and the journey to freedom program is going to add 60 plus additional beds to the right around 400 beds in the United States. The 400 is both minors and adults. So, there's less than that for kids. So, what we're about to embark on is huge,“ said Kristin.
Each child at the 60-bed campus will receive specifically tailored therapies in a safe environment free of charge.
So, how are children typically trafficked? Where do predators find them?
“It's on social media. That's where I see it the most on the on the big platforms like the TikToks, the Instagrams, the Facebooks and Snapchats. That's where I see it the most,” Jason said.
Jason is a member of law enforcement and sees these cases first-hand while on the job.
The reality is that the sexual exploitation, rape and trafficking of underage children doesn’t need conspiracy theories to make it exist.
The Weis’ know all too well that it’s something that happens all over the world, in all 50 states, and right here in Tulsa.
"If you're guard is down and you don't understand what the threat is, like if the child doesn't understand what the threat is because they haven't been talked to about it. It can happen anywhere anytime with anyone,” Kristin said.
Kristin sits on the Public Private Advisory Council to end Human Trafficking for the Trump Administration.
The council is set to release a report on human trafficking in the next few months to help address issues here in the U.S.
If you’d like to help The Demand Project with it's mission or learn more about the prevention of sex-trafficking, click here.
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