Virtual Reality offered to fight ugly reality of human trafficking
AUSTIN,Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Advocates for victims of human trafficking traveled from across the state for this rally at the state Capitol.
Robert Sanborn, one of the organizers, urged those at the rally to ask lawmakers for more funding to combat criminal organizations that continue prey on the children of Texas.
"I get tired of hearing people saying, we really can’t do anything about this, this may be the world's oldest profession, the fact of the matter is we're doing a lot at our state legislative level but we need to do more. We need to stop trafficking now,” said Sanborn.
Houston Democrat Senfronia Thompson told those at the rally she will not give up the fight. She did indicate proposed legislation should not simply target victims.
"So I want to shift the shoe over to the buyers, I want them to feel the pressure, I want them to feel the embarrassment and I want them to feel the jails and I want them to feel the prisons,” said Thompson.
The focus is not just on the predators. State lawmakers Tuesday were also given a chance to better understand the victims of Human Trafficking. It involved taking a step into Virtual Reality. A demonstration took place in the Capitol Extension. State Rep. Tony Tinderholt was one of the first to put on the VR head gear.
"You know its eye opening to see the triggers to make children potentially want to do this, things you'd never think of,” said Tinderholt.
The Arlington Republican wants other lawmakers to put on the head gear
"I'm absolutely going to talk about this upstairs,” said Tinderholt.
The computer program follows the murder investigation of a teenager who was lured into prostitution. It’s designed to show how easy it is to fall into the trap, according to developer Billy Cain.
"The idea is to show people how this happens over time, this isn't like a panel van drives up this is slow manipulation of a person, we try to do something that is extremely common and that is someone meets someone on line, that person on line convinces the girl, for example, he is in love with her, starts teaching her, talking her into start sneaking out, then all of a sudden, your parents are not treating you right, come with me, and this starts a slow slide to potentially being victimized,” said Cain,
Cain hopes his system will convince lawmakers to fund some type of statewide education & prevention program in schools. There could be money for something like that based on what Senator Joan Huffman said earlier at the rally.
"I just came from the Finance committee, in the Senate's Budget, get this, there's $89-million for Human Trafficking prevention, investigation, prosecution, that’s up $64 million from last session,” said Sen. Huffman.
Cain's VR program currently costs about $10,000 per system- which includes hardware and software.
He says one school is already using it near Dallas and another educational group in San Diego is going to use it.