WACO - The Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition says more than 200 people have been arrested for buying sex in McLennan County in the last two years. This after five stings by the McLennan County Sheriffs Office.
Now Waco nonprofit Jesus Said Love is working to shut down prostitution by slowing the demand. They have created a Stop Demand School -- a class that informs people of the dangers of buying sex. The class covers sexually transmitted diseases and other health issues. But it also informs buyers of problems they might not have anticipated.
"When you show up at a call in Waco... On the other side of that door, there could be an angry woman who wants to rob you at gun point. There could be a 13 year old being held against her will. And now you are involved with child human trafficking," Jesus Said Love Co-CEO Brett Mills said. "The facts are what invite people to think deeper about these issues."
The Stop Demand School had three students last week and the nonprofit wants to get more for their January class. They are working with judges and probation officers to try and make the class a regular part of the punishment for those caught buying sex. Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition founder Susan Peters said it would be a good step for the area.
"They're not going to go out and be repeat buyers so it is very important we get them through the program," Peters said. "It's a supply and demand business. By hitting the demand we are reducing the risk of our young boys and girls to be trafficked."
Jesus Said Love is also building a new headquarters in Waco to help take care of women coming out of the commercial sex industry. The new building, located at 1500 Columbus in Waco will offer women counseling and exercise programs for emotional support as well as job skills training to help them find a new way to support themselves.
"If there is a way to empower women so that, in whatever circumstance, they don't need to sell themselves, I think that is one thing that we need to address." Mills said. "Our vision is stop demand, restore lives."
Mills plans to open the new location on November 15th, but the organization is still looking for $35,000 to help finish the building out.
If you would like to get involved with Jesus Said Love as a donor or volunteer you can contact the organization on their website at jessussaidlove.com