Not just a billboard: Molested at 12. Sold by Dad. Raped 8 times a day.


May 31, 2019

By Gracie Bonds Staples

There’s a parable about a villager who one day spots a drowning baby and pulls it from a river. The next day, he sees two more and snatches them from the same swift waters. The following day, four babies are caught in the turbulent current. And then eight, then more, and more.

Deborah Richardson, executive director of the International Human Trafficking Institute, retold the story recently to make a point. It’s time, she said, we addressed the root cause of sex trafficking — demand.For far too long, our advocacy and law enforcement efforts have focused on the arrest and prosecution of traffickers, while those who were driving the market demand of exploited children were ignored.

Richardson hopes a new digital billboard campaign her agency launched May 21 will finally do the trick.Having seen those billboards, I don’t see how it couldn’t.

“The Truth in Trafficking,” which will run through June 16, is the brainchild of Legend ad agency CEO Michael Dunn.The billboards, he said, were designed to get into the predator’s mind, deconstruct his motivations and destroy his justifications. He doesn’t see his behavior as destructive but rather transactional. He has blinded himself to the truth, the horrors he creates, the irreparable damage he does to these innocent children who have absolutely no choice — and never have.

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