Russ Tuttle’s Ordinary To Extraordinary

Russ Tuttle’s Ordinary To Extraordinary

Foreword from Pooh

Recently I came across an alarming post on Facebook. There was this lady who is holding a child and begging for money on the streets. The child looked around 3. When the person who posted the image asked for the child’s name, this lady scattered. It was an eye-opening post for me. There was a possibility that the child was not hers or the child was kidnapped. Either way, a child was missing from their parents. It got me thinking, what would happen to the child if the lady is ever found. Will the child be able to make it back to the birth parents miraculously? Will the child be another victim that has ended up on the streets? Will the child become a beggar who could have had a wonderful life instead? Would the child be thrust into an even more dangerous situation because of this picture? WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THE CHILD?

I’ve also read up on many articles about girl child’s that end up on streets. They are forced to become call girls or prostitutes. Some of them are sold abroad for profits. I have always wanted to help so I have been searching for methods to contribute towards axing this entire issue. That is when Po introduced me to Russ’ website for stopping child sex trafficking. He operates out of the US and has branches in India too. He goes to schools and gives presentations which could help any child in staying safe. If we can educate people about these kinds of acts, then we can prevent them from happening. That prompted Po and me to interview Russ as our person of the month. We are hoping that many more people will talk to him and more schools will approach him. Someday, if we all work together as a society we will be able to prevent child sex trafficking all together. Preventing these acts from taking place, in the beginning, is the only way to stop them.


Full Name – Russ Tuttle

Education – BA

Day Job – Fully engaged in this non-profit

Position – Founder of “The Stop Trafficking Project”. Also director of BeAlert and founding member of Kansas City Street Hope.

Your project is amazing! How did you get started and what made you create this organization?

It’s been a process over many years. I grew up in India and understand slavery from that third world perspective. The similarities of slavery in that context and sex trafficking of kids (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking = DMST) astounded me. I knew I had to do something. Most people want to “rescue victims”. Restoring those who have been victimized is important. But, we can’t build enough homes to house them all. We can’t arrest our way out of this growing demand driven business. Knowing it would be important for me to stay within my skill set I decided to start a non-profit that would educate and empower students and adults alike while addressing the issue of demand.

How was it in the starting? What are the challenges that you faced when creating this ?

I took two years to simply do research and network with other abolitionists and everyone I could find. Making sure I had clarity of mission was clear due to vision leak. There are so many needs to address in combating DMST. I knew if our vision was too broad it would fail before even having a chance to get started.

Knowing that students are targets because demand for sex with kids is a real thing; knowing that there are people willing to recruit kids (especially via social media); knowing that pornography is the engine driving sex trafficking (porn is feeding the addiction of, mostly men, wanting sex with younger and younger kids); knowing that socially acceptable addictions make this issue increasingly difficult to talk about; knowing that law enforcement, health care professionals, counselors, legislators, faith community leaders, business owners, and the general public all lacked information needed to understand this reality; knowing that it would be tough to convince schools this message must be in front of their community and students; and knowing that funds are nearly impossible to raise when not starting a home for victims, well all these things were overwhelming challenges to get started.

So, I worked part time jobs to pay bills and did tons of presentations for free while doing my best to build a network that could not only help to educate and empower but also provide assistance to victims as we became aware of their situations.

Were your family and friends supportive when you first came up with the idea? Do you get involved in your projects now?

Like most people they knew it was a problem in “exotic countries over there” or “at the southern border” but very few understood the reality that this impacts American kids protected by American law living in communities all over America. Good people can’t do anything about this crisis until they know it exists and then become educated and empowered to do something productive.

Who is your inspiration in everyday life?

I’ve had many great mentors over the years but when students respond to our presentations by being educated and empowered that encourages me to keep going despite all the challenges. Victim survivors inspire me to do this work.

How is it working on two countries on the opposite side of the planet? How do you manage an organization which spans across two continents?

It’s actually very easy because we simply network and partner with organizations on the ground in India. I lead all our efforts in the USA. Everything we do is based on trusted relationship. If there’s no trust then I don’t partner!

How much time do you spend and what kind of support do you get from the community?

There are far too many 100 hour weeks. This is certainly not an 8-5 M-F job! We don’t spend limited resources on brick and mortar. So, I home office or coffee shop office! The downside is that the job simply never ends because the needs are massive. I have to learn to say “no” to many things. I almost said “no” to filling out this form. But gave myself a time limit and will stick to that.

What are your plans for increasing TSTP’s reach, because we need more educational programs like the Only12?

The big dream is to reach every student every year in MO and KS. This will require significant resources that go beyond just money. Networking with schools, the faith community, law enforcement, health care professionals, counselors, business leaders, and the general population is crucial. However, funds are needed to pay the quality of people I need to make this happen. We currently rely on volunteers only.

Can you tell us a little about your team and their roles?

Everyone is a volunteer. A local news team interviewed me in October 2018 and figured I had a staff of 25-40 people that are full time. In reality, it’s just me and a few volunteers. What makes it work is a massive network of trusted relationships that have been built over the years.

Are you where you thought you would be five years ago? What plans do you have for the next five years?

I’m very “type A” so nothing happens fast enough! But, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made with literally no resources to start with. Plans for the next five years are to grow in influence and make a huge dent in keeping students safer throughout MO, KS and anywhere else we have opportunity to make an impact.

Can you give us tips in providing a secure environment for children around us? How can we help you achieve the goal of stopping child sex trafficking? What kind of help do you need from us?

The biggest thing we push is to address the role of social media in exploiting vulnerabilities in students. Identifying those vulnerabilities at the youngest age possible is crucial to keeping them safer from predators. In a recent school assembly a young girl approached trusted adults telling them about challenges she’s encountered using various social media apps. Her discussion led to the school personnel reaching out to law enforcement, an arrest was made the very next day, and other kids in the same school were emboldened to come forward with their own stories of being exploited. This sexual predator is currently in jail on $1.3 million bond. It’s stories like those that keep me going.

Spread the word that this is a real challenge and point people to good organizations doing good work and get them to donate money to help them achieve their goals.

We thank you from the bottom of our heart for taking the time from your busy schedule to give us an interview.

The problem with Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking is very real. The problem of DMST is everywhere. We all need to make a combined effort to prevent this. Everyone should take it upon themselves to raise awareness about DMST. Every child should feel safe and should get an opportunity to have a proper childhood.

We commend Russ for reaching out to students, parents, and organizations. Thank you so much, Russ, for taking time out of your busy schedule to reach out to us. We hope your work reached even more people. We wish that you expand your work across continents and success in your future endeavors. We are very thrilled to have you with us and we hope that you succeed in your mission.

We wish you all the best!

Pooh & Po.

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