BOSTICK REPORT-The emails started early Thursday morning. The first one came from a mom whose daughter played on my daughter’s soccer team last season. By that evening, I had heard from nearly a dozen parents – mostly moms – about the kidnapping attempt.
Last Wednesday, a Caucasian man in his mid-30s approached a babysitter while she was walking with her two charges near the intersection of Lincoln and Manchester Boulevards here in Westchester. The suspect proceeded to punch the babysitter in the face, tell her that he was kidnapping one of the kids, and run off carrying said child. Fortunately, an employee of T2 Tacos witnessed the incident and foiled the kidnapping attempt.
But our community has clearly been scared. The emails I received the next day, from people who didn’t know each other, illustrated an urgency to take action.
That action resulted, barely 24 hours after the attempted kidnapping, in an NBC news crew gathered at the site of the incident to hear from the crowd of parents. We were fortunate to have our councilman, Mike Bonin, there to share our pain. All this was possible because of strong leadership in our local parents and I’d like to acknowledge Jenny Hoontz specifically for organizing. Well done.
Many of us on the Westside live with a false sense of security. Most of us struggle, but we aren’t mired in an environment steeped in poverty culture, so we face the mundane and often ridiculed “plague of property crime”. Our schools are relatively stable, our neighbors relatively employed, our housing prices relatively rising, and our lives are relatively secure.
Sadly, hundreds of underage girls are kidnapped each year and forced into what is a robust world of sexual slavery that operates within the shadows of Los Angeles. Our city has the unfortunate distinction of being the hub of a Western triangle of sex trafficking between LA, Las Vegas, and Sacramento. It’s estimated that on any given night, there are roughly 10,000 girls and women held in a vast underground network of brothels just here in LA.
Most of the girls come from a broken home, many in the foster care system, and nearly all are lured into the trap of sexual slavery through gifts from an adult. Once captured, they are drugged, starved, and imprisoned throughout the county. Activists lament that this type of trafficking has become more lucrative than drugs.
We experienced a near miss here in Westchester. The fact that a hero stepped up and thwarted the kidnapper is a blessing, both in saving that kid from the clutches of evil and in the potential for our community to take action beyond our front doors.
Most likely, if you’re reading this and you have kids, your son or daughter doesn’t fit this profile and that makes it easy for you not to notice the everyday catastrophe unfolding around us. Now you have no excuse.
Let’s not waste this tragedy for it is one that happens on a daily basis all around us. Beyond the heightened sense of vigilance you’re probably experiencing, look into how you can do more to fight this global tragedy.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has been working for years to combat LA’s tragic problem with sexual slavery. He, along with fellow Supervisor Don Knabe, have initiated the creation of a plan – to be published later this year – that will hopefully provide us with a platform to act.
In the interim, hold your kids close to you and remember that this was a near miss, but thousand of little kids disappear each year, most never to again feel the love they need. Think about that for a moment and see if you can mobilize. Our community, the one that is greater Los Angeles, needs parents actively fighting to stop this human tragedy.
Contact the office of Mark Ridley-Thomas via phone at (213) 974-2222 or email: [email protected]. Express your support for his efforts to stymie human trafficking in Los Angeles and urge him to double down his efforts. Then volunteer your time. Challenge him to put you to work.
If there’s one good thing that could come out of this scare here in Westchester, it’s a mobilized parent community willing to take action on the thousands of days where it didn’t almost happen to them.
Because it is happening everyday, just not to you.
(Odysseus Bostick is a Los Angeles teacher and former candidate for the Los Angeles City Council. He writes The Bostick Report for CityWatch.)
Vol 12 Issue 19
Pub: Mar 4, 2014