HOUSTON — On the heels of a sex trafficking rescue involving a North Texas teen, a Houston organization is upping its education for event workers and law enforcement.
A 15-year-old girl went missing in April while attending a Dallas Mavericks game.
The father of that girl is threatening to sue the Dallas Mavericks and American Airlines Center, claiming they could have prevented the situation.
“She was gone, missing a total of 11 days,” said the family’s attorney, Zeke Fortenberry.
The attorney said the man seen leaving the game with the girl on surveillance video got into the game with a fake ticket. He said Dallas police did little to help.
The Houston-based Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative got involved, and using facial-recognition technology, found the teen in Oklahoma City.
A representative from the organization along with members of No Trafficking Zone met with NRG officials at NRG Park Thursday to discuss ways workers and law enforcement can intervene and identify cases of sex trafficking.
“While we can’t stop all of it, the amount that we can stop saves lives,” said Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation board member Dr. James Dixon. “What we’ve done here is train the employees so they’ve now become eyes and ears.”
“When a child walks into a Mavericks game, goes to the restroom and then is gone missing, that child will never be the same,” said Arrow Child and Family Ministries Relations Director Debbi Tengler.
Tengler said certain clues can help those on the outside identify victims, but she also says there are things parents can do to possibly prevent it from happening in the first place.
She said parents should know everything their children see, send and receive through their technological devices.
“Canopy.us is a technology actually developed right here out of Houston, Texas, that allows you to load it onto any technology they have. There is a fee involved with it, but it will not allow commercially sexually explicit material to come in or to go out,” Tengler said.
She said sex trafficking begins at a child’s home and most of the parents have no idea.
“Predators are coming into our children’s bedrooms without even getting onto the property,” Tengler said.
Arrow Child and Family Ministries provides foster care placement for child victims of sex trafficking, matching them with qualified and trained families. If you would like to recommend someone to the program or would like to be a foster parent, you can find that information on its website, www.arrow.org