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HH HOMEGROWN HEROES Hidden in plain sight is one of America’s saddest and greatest tragedies — a heartbreaking crisis that most people in the United States would say isn’t happening in their backyard. The numbers say otherwise. Every two minutes a child is being prepared for sexual exploitation, according to a best estimate made by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). That and other statistics like it on the number of children involved in sex trafficking across the world are staggering. But the numbers are a far cry from the actual devastating reality that young people face because of the demand in the United States and around the world for sexually exploited children.

U.S.-based websites and apps that bolster the trafficking of women and children are

quietly part of the multi-billion dollar industry. In the age we live in, where nearly seventy percent of children between 11 and 14 years old have smart phones, grooming children for prostitution and pornography is easier than ever. It’s an impossible situation with a beaten, intimidated population of victims who are afraid to come forward, many of whom have been groomed by predators initially claiming to have their best interest in mind. In the end, these victims become slaves. Fortunately, where most Americans turn a blind eye and pretend it’s a problem

JASON WEIS

Selfless Spirit Striving to educate, equip and empower Green Country and the rest of the nation on how to better help children stay safe from predators is the DEMAND PROJECT’S plan to prevent sex trafficking. BY ROB HARMON || PHOTOS BY MARC RAINS

52 JULY 2018

happening somewhere else, one Tulsa couple has decided enough is enough, regardless of the seemingly insurmountable numbers. Jason and Kristen Weis, founders of the Demand Project in Tulsa, were living in Colorado at the time when they made the decision to stop acting as if sexual trafficking was someone else’s problem. Jason says that if he were to use one word to describe what caused him to devote so much time and energy to the cause, it would be the word rage. “There was one night where in the news they had a story about a father who sexually assaulted his own daughter,” says Weis, “a toddler about 2 years old. When I heard that he had videotaped it and put it on the Internet for thousands of people to watch, that was the fistclenching rage moment for me. That’s what really prompted everything after that point.” The Demand Project’s mission is to eradicate sexual exploitation, specifically those victimized as children. Preventing sex trafficking, lewd proposals to children and child pornography is where much of the project’s energy and efforts are targeted. Prosecution is another aspect of the project’s roles in the Tulsa area, where Weis is a detective with Jenks law enforcement. Participating in rescue and restoration efforts are also additional facets of the Demand Project’s impact across the country. With the help of a growing number of willing donors and volunteers, resources are being used by

July 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 7)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...

July 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 7)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...