Foster Care| Abandonment |Homelessness| Sex Trafficking| Realtor Estate
A human trafficking victim, not a prostitute! We are not able to choose the family, or circumstances in which we are born; that is divinely ordained. Kamera Stone certainly wish she were born in a loving family that gave her all the life skills she needed to face the challenges of this world, but that was not her reality.
How it Started
Kamera Stone was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to drug addict parents. At the age of four (4) Kamera along with her four (4) siblings were removed from their parent’s custody. Kamera and one (1) of her sibling went into foster care, while her other three (3) siblings were taken by different family members; all her siblings did not have the same biological fathers. Kamera was adopted sometime after being in the State’s custody, and thought life took a turn for the better. To her dismay, three (3) years after the adoption, her adoptive parents relinquished their parental rights. Somewhere between the age of nine (9) and twelve (12) she was again a ward of the state. Kamera was shuffled around to approximately fifty (50) different foster homes in different cities. Prior to age eighteen (18) she decided to search for her biological family, and was successful. She felt she was developing a relationship with her mother and decided she wanted to live with her.
Vulnerability of Homelessness
Kamera planned to get into trouble with the intention of being removed from foster care, hoping her mother would be her “knight in shining armor” and rescue her, and they would live happily ever after. Prior to her eighteenth (18th) birthday she got the courage to put her plan in action. She stole and spent a fifty (50) dollar gift card from the store in which she worked, and got caught as planned. Her plan of being removed from foster care and sent to her mother fell through. Instead she was taken to jail by her case worker, on her eighteenth (18th) birthday. Her bail was one hundred (100) dollars, however, her mother refused to pay bail. After leaving jail, Kamera took a grey hound bus to Oklahoma City to live with her mother, but again faced rejection when two (2) weeks later she was told she had to leave. While staying with her mother she met a young man and they started communicating. She told him she had nowhere to go, and her mother wanted her to leave. He said that she could stay with him and in that conversation stated that he “takes escorts where they need to go.” To that Kamera responded “are you a cab driver?” Being naive to the world she was about to enter. He said “no, I pimp hoes.” This was new information for her, as she did not know that he was a pimp. The vulnerability of homelessness worked against her as she had nowhere to go and moved in with him.
The young man took this as an opportunity to exploit her and she was no longer able to go back to her job. Kamera was terrified to report him to the police; fearful that he may hurt her, and desperate since she had nowhere else to go. She stayed with him for a few months dancing in clubs etc., but summoned the courage to leave when another victim she danced with in a club told her that she had a friend in Texas that could “help her get on her feet.”
Victims Recruit Victims
Kamera went to Texas only to be re-victimized. The man in Texas was also a pimp; more atrocious than the one she left. She ended up dancing among other things while the pimp took all the money. She was physically and emotionally distressed with no support system, and no way of getting out of this horrific brutal situation. Trapped in this horrendous situation because of her dependency, and having nowhere to go. After spending about a month in Texas, the same “friend” from the club told Kamera she was now in Florida and Kamera joined her. When she came to Florida, it was a replay of the same situation; however, it got more dreadful. The new pimp took the girls to different states for prostitution. As a result Kamera now has two (2) misdemeanors and one (1) felony charge for prostitution; a felony and misdemeanor in Florida, and a misdemeanor in Las Vegas. Kamera knew she had to get out of this monstrous world and break the vicious cycle, but needed help as she did not have the financial and other resources to do it on her own.
A Way Out
One of her clients, a married “sugar daddy” helped her to get ‘on her feet’. He paid for her car, apartment, and a certification course; a “john” gave her a way out of sex trafficking, and ultimately saved her life. She now tries her best to help those she can by sharing her story. Life is not perfect; however, she is optimistic about what the future holds. Like most victims she is afraid to speak openly about her journey fearful of being “victim shamed” and re-traumatized. Most people ask “why couldn’t you just run away? Or state that trafficked victims are prostitutes. The reality is most people cannot relate to something they have not themselves experience. Most people fail to see that the chains of human trafficking are often mental and not physical, hence the inclusion of “force, fraud, or coercion” in the definition. It is also a reality that physical chains are more easily broken than mental chains; it is difficult to escape yourself; victims spend a lifetime healing from this trauma.
Love and Affection
Kamera believes that the lack of love and affection received by foster children results in their gravitation towards older man to play the “daddy role.” They lack a familial support system, and this lack of social support results in them being victimized by traffickers who know what to say to manipulate them; by playing on their emotions. This desire for love and support has resulted in a huge number of trafficked victims coming from the foster care system. According to the National Foster Youth Institute, “60% of all child sex trafficking victims have histories in the child welfare system? Children without families to make them feel loved and cared for are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by sex traffickers. Foster children in large cities like New York and Los Angeles are at the most risk of being targeted”.1 Statics shows that “in 2012, Los Angeles County, California reported that of the 72 commercially sexually exploited girls in their Succeed Through Achievement and Resilience (STAR) Court Program, 56 were child-welfare involved,”2 whereas “in 2007, New York City identified 2,250 child victims of trafficking. Seventy-five percent of those experienced some contact with the child welfare system, mostly in the context of abuse and neglect proceedings.”3 Traffickers are aware of the vulnerability and risk factors faced by children in the foster care system and “will sometimes send one of their girls into group homes to lure other girls to leave. Many girls who end up leaving foster care are trafficked into prostitution where they are routinely subject to physical abuse and violence.”4 What can we as a society do to influence change? What does Kamera believe could have made a difference?
What Could Have Made a Difference?
There are four (4) items listed below that Kamera believes could have made a difference. They are:
1) Stay in Foster Care Until Age 21: Kamera believes that if she had know better she would have signed herself back into foster care until she was 21. Although that would not have provided her the love, affection, and feeling of belonging she desired, she would have had a place to live.
2) Job Training: The foster care system should help children with job training and job search. Although foster children are enrolled in schools, they do not necessarily get the skills they need to obtain a descent job.
3) Foster ‘Parents’: Provide parenting skills to foster parents. Kamera express that “foster parents don’t parent you, they live with you.”
4) Life Skills: Provide life skills training for foster children. Kamera states that she was ill prepared for the world. She was not taught basic life skills, and did not know how to begin life on her own. Like most other foster children this results in a sense of dependency, which causes them to be easily controlled by others, often times, older men who are pimps.
Instead of reflecting on what life could have been if she were born in a home with loving parents, Kamera focuses on how she can use her adversaries for her betterment, and to enhance the life of others.
Kamera is a realtor by profession and provides excellent customer service to her clients. Not focusing on where she is, but where she is heading Kamera is optimistic about what the future has in store for her and her son. Amidst her life’s rocky journey, Kamera considers herself lucky to be a part of the one percent (1%). She has life! She is physically free!
WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Human Trafficking, also known as Modern Day Slavery is the largest slave trade in the history of mankind. It is defined as using force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for the purpose of forced labor, debt bondage, commercial sex,5 or organ and tissue extraction. There are more than forty (40) million victims worldwide; woman and children accounts for the vast majority. Human trafficking does not discriminate. It affects men, women, boys and girls of all races and socio-economic status; however, the primary victims are black girls,6 Hispanic girls, then all others. What is even more disturbing is the majority of sex trafficking victims are children.7 It seems unimaginable that a child as young as three (3) months old was being sold into sex trafficking,8 but these heinous acts happen. There are some really cruel people in this world. Human trafficking awareness advocates should not only “speak about it, but be about it.” This is the ethos of M J Scarlett Foundation, Inc.
M J SCARLETT FOUNDATION, INC.
M J Scarlett Foundation, Inc focuses on human trafficking prevention and awareness education. We cannot take the chance of rescuing less than percent (1%), while ninety nine percent (99%) of human trafficking victims remain enslaved. By taking a therapeutic jurisprudence approach of attacking the root cause of human trafficking, together as a society we can eliminate the vulnerabilities that plagues especially those in the foster care system such as: poverty; being in the wrong place at the wrong time; lack of education; lack of job opportunities; unstable family situation, such as those in the welfare system; lack of support which results in the desire for love and affection and many others. Let us educate our children because prevention and awareness education SAVES LIVES!
Please visit us on https://www.mjscarlettfoundationinc.org/ for more information about human trafficking awareness.
Tamara Dawes, J.S.D. Candidate 2021
Founder/President of M J Scarlett Foundation, Inc.
An Anti-human Trafficking Organization
"You may choose to look the other way, but you can't say you didn't know." William Wilberforce
1. National Foster Youth Institute, Sex Trafficking: Sex and Human Trafficking in the U.S. Disproportionately Affects Foster Youth https://www.nfyi.org/issues/sex-trafficking/ [http://citylimits.org/2015/01/23/why-traffickers-prey-on-foster-care-kids/ ] (last visited June 29, 2020).
2. Dawn Post, Human Traffickers Prey on Foster-Care Kids, CITY LIMITS, January 23, 2015 https://citylimits.org/2015/01/23/why-traffickers-prey-on-foster-care-kids/ (last visited June 30, 2020).
3. Dawn Post, Human Traffickers Prey on Foster-Care Kids, CITY LIMITS, January 23, 2015 https://citylimits.org/2015/01/23/why-traffickers-prey-on-foster-care-kids/ (last visited June 30, 2020).
4. National Foster Youth Institute, Sex Trafficking: Sex and Human Trafficking in the U.S. Disproportionately Affects Foster Youth https://www.nfyi.org/issues/sex-trafficking/ [http://citylimits.org/2015/01/23/why-traffickers-prey-on-foster-care-kids/ ] (last visited June 29, 2020).
5. Department of Homeland Security, Blue Campaign, One Voice. One Mission. End Human Trafficking. https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/what-human-trafficking#:~:text=Human%20trafficking%20involves%20the%20use,labor%20or%20commercial%20sex%20act.&text=Traffickers%20use%20force%2C%20fraud%2C%20or,labor%20or%20commercial%20sexual%20exploitation. (last visited July 3, 2020).
6. Annette Emery et al., Human Trafficking: Black Girls Are Still Enslaved, CTAASC 2012 http://demoiselle2femme.org/wp-content/uploads/Human-Trafficking-Black-Girls-are-Still-Enslaved.pdf (last visited July 3, 2020).
[More than half (62 percent) of confirmed sex trafficking suspects are African American. - U.S. Department of Justice] 5
7. DoSomething.org, 11 Facts About Human Trafficking, number 7 as cited from “2018 Federal Human Trafficking Report.” The Human Trafficking Institute. Accessed July 31, 2019.
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-human-trafficking (last visited July 3, 2020).
[In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the US were sex trafficking cases involving only children]
8. Fox 2 Detroit, FBI: 3 Months Old Saved in Sex Trafficking Ring Was Being Sold For $600.00, October 19, 2017. https://www.fox2detroit.com/news/fbi-3-month-old-saved-in-sex-trafficking-ring-was-being-sold-for-600 (last visited July 3, 2020).