Experts say case of 13-year-old runaway is textbook sex trafficking

UPDATE 10:45 p.m. Sunday: 

The 13-year-old runaway from Katy, Texas has been found safe in Mexico, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. 

Deputies said on Twitter late Sunday evening cooperation from authorities in Mexico helped to ensure the girl was found safe. HCSO also thanked the FBI San Antonio Laredo office for their help in the search.

The exact location of where she was found and her condition are unknown at this time.

KATY, Texas - Experts say the case of a 13-year-old girl who ran away to Mexico to meet a man she met online appears to be a classic case of sex trafficking.

KHOU 11 News first reported the missing persons case Saturday night.

Her mother said she dropped the 8th grader off at Thornton Middle School on Friday. The mother received a call from the school that afternoon saying her daughter had missed several classes. 

The parents later learned their 13-year-old convinced a woman at the bus station to buy her a ticket to Mexico. 

The couple believed their daughter was on her way to meet a man in Mexico with whom she had been corresponding online. 

The alleged relationship continued even after the girl’s parents took away her phone and reported the man to police.

Debi Tengler is Chief Relations Officer with Arrow Child & Family ministries, which rehabilitates minors recovering from sex trafficking. 

She believes this girl was being targeted by professionals.

“Immediately, it had signs of trafficking 101,” she said. “Often times it can be a Romeo relationship or a daddy relationship, where they become the caretaker or protector, the one who values and appreciates that child, building a sense of security in them and often times brainwashing them against their healthy, biological family.” 

Tengler recommends parents pay close attention to children’s social media accounts. Adults should be suspicious when a child is secretive about their conversations. 

She also suggests families get professional help or counseling if they believe a child is at risk.

“[Children] are very vulnerable. We all need to have eyes to see, become aware of their tactics, and take measures to protect and help them.” she said.

MORE:

Parents: 13-year-old ran away to Mexico to see man she met online

Selling Girls | Sex traffickers are targeting American children

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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