Linda Smith- Fighting for Young Victims

Linda Smith- Fighting for Young Victims

By Cleo Lampos

The upcoming workshop on America’s Prostituted Children led by Linda Smith caught my eye. On January 17, 2014, Smith will be at the Covenant Fine Arts Center at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan talking about a subject that most people avoid. I bought her book, Renting Lacey, and read it in a day. A whole world that I only suspected became real by reading her nonfiction narrative. Who can believe that here in the United States over 2oo,ooo girls between the ages of twelve and seventeen are involved in the prostitution industry? And the main reason for their involvement in such a lifestyle? The breakdown and chaos in their parent’s homes that lead the girls to run away. With no way to support themselves on their own and on the streets, predators just have to be patient if they want to win these runaways over. My heart broke reading this book.

The difficulties faced by runaway or homeless children is not new. By 1860, New York City counted over 30,000 children living on their streets. The future for many of the homeless girls centered on the illegal sex trade prevalent in the city boundaries. Their lives were cut short whether these girls lived in the cold, starving themselves, or if they joined with a madam. The reason they fell victim to the streets is the same one that catapults today’s girls into sex exploitation. Families filled with conflict, violence or dysfunctionality. When Charles Loring Brace and his workers found girls who were still able to make the transition, they were placed on orphan trains and sent out West to families and churches who believed that nature can nurture, and that everyone deserves a second chance.

Guess the reading of Renting Lacey made me realize how little has changed in over one hundred and fifty years. We still live in a broken world that needs the healing of the body, soul and spirit: one girl at a time. A salute goes out to Linda Smith as she traverses this country informing audiences of the invisible victims and how they can help.

Cleo Lampos is the author of A Mother’s Song, an historical fiction novel which deals with the orphan train experience from 1855 to 1930.  The issue of homeless/street children is one that needs to be addressed today as well as from an historical vantage.

  • ISBN-10: 1602902003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602902008

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