Lured into Teenage Prostitution

"Tyamba maintained the honor roll. She was an excellent student," Ingrid recalls of her 18-year-old daughter. "She ended the sixth grade, and some things started changing. Tyamba ran away, and it took a turn for the worse."

"I don't remember how I really got to New York, but I met a guy. He seemed pretty decent, so that night, he took me to an underground strip club. The next thing you know, he hit me. He told me I had to strip [and] have sex for money. I was scared, so I just did what he told me to do," recalls Tyamba, who was 13 at the time. "When I said, ‘I'm going to run away,' the pimp and his friends, they chased me down the block and they took me to a building, and they beat me. I tried to get away, but they grabbed me and said, ‘You're not going anywhere.'"

"I was devastated, not knowing where she was," says Ingrid, wiping away tears. 


Tyamba was missing for 11 months. "I was told by police it would be unsafe, but I had to act to bring my child home," Ingrid remembers. "I had made the right phone call and word was passed on to the person who had held my daughter captive. I said, ‘Her mother is here, and I want my daughter.' I was giving up all hope sitting in my car in the dark at a train stop in New York, and then finally my car door opened, and it was Tyamba."

"What did it mean to you when that car door opened?" Dr. Phil asks Ingrid.

"It meant that my prayers had been answered and that I was being given a second chance to complete the task of motherhood," she says.

"Tell me what happened the first time you actually had sex for money," Dr. Phil says to Tyamba.

Tyamba says she had been living in New York for three months. "I ended up on a phone chat line, and I met a person," she explains. "I went with him to his house because he said he needed to get something, and as I walked in, I noticed he had a couple of females in there. When it was time that I felt like I was ready to go, he wouldn't let me leave. He slapped me and said, ‘You can't go anywhere.' When I asked why, he said, ‘Because you can't.'"

"At that point, he controlled you and forced you to start having sex with strange men," Dr. Phil says.

Tyamba says that this man took her to underground strip clubs.


Ingrid says that when her daughter returned to her, she sought professional help. "We did attend counseling sessions until Tyamba was cleared and no longer needed those services," Ingrid says. "Part of the therapy that we continue is to tell about our story. I was very passionate about the fact that if she was going to be a strong woman and not harbor these negative feelings and not have a chance to express them, that speaking in the right forum would be a positive experience for her."

"You realize your life was at risk, right?" Dr. Phil asks Tyamba.

"Yes," she replies.

Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International, an organization that raises awareness about modern day sex slavery and fights against sex trafficking, says the traffickers know exactly how to target vulnerable children.


"This is something that is growing rapidly, true?" Dr. Phil asks Linda.

"I found that basically the child is 12 to 14 when she goes into it, but worse than that, she could be anybody's child," Linda says. "Even though the factor of vulnerability is often sexual abuse or foster care, bleed out or runaway, the real factor is she's a little girl and she's easy to woo. What we found is that the age factor is really, really major. I hate to say this, but I think it could be anybody's child." She notes that she is working on a case of a 12-year-old girl who was kidnapped walking home from school. This girl has been arrested multiple times, but her buyer and pimp have never been arrested.

"I am just outraged buy this," Dr. Phil says. "Who are the buyers?"

"The open market allows the sale of children in the United States, and they're everybody's husband, father," she says. "We've investigated America and pretty well not found any of the buyers arrested. There's no push back. I've come to the conclusion, after three years, if there weren't a buyer, there would not have been a seller, and if you hang just a few guys " pretty high level guys that we're discovering are using kids " the rest of them are going to be like the crows that won't go to the corn when they see the dead ones hanging over it, and I think we have to do that." 

Dr. Lois Lee is the Founder and President of Children of the Night, an organization that has rescued more than 10,000 children from the ravages of prostitution.


"We have a problem right here in America, with American children who are forced to prostitute to eat and have a place to sleep," Lois says. "The children are most often throw-away children. They have no one to care for them, and they have no place to go. I'm committed to my children. They need and they deserve our help."

Children of the Night monitors a 24-hour hotline. "We help [children] achieve a GED or a high school diploma, and we place five children a year in college. About 60 percent of the children that we work with make it off the streets and go on to more successful lives. Some of the children that I've helped are in PhD programs. They're vice presidents of companies. They own their own businesses," Lois says. "In order to fully operate Children of the Night, we need $2 million dollars a year. It's very, very tough. Some years we fall short."