We live in our American bubble, being all we see is our happy, everyday life. The reality of what goes on in our country, our states, our small towns would burst that bubble, shatter any idea of reality if you/we could see what’s going on in front of our eyes; human trafficking.
I went to a workshop the other day, the topic? Commercial exploitation of children, aka human trafficking, which is modern-day slavery, and a current epidemic.
Did you know, cause I didn’t, that the U.S. is the number one country for human trafficking? I was floored, insulted, dumbfounded and pissed when I learned that statistic. And California is the number one state! When I walked into the class, I thought that China was the capital of the epidemic. Wrong. It’s right here, in our backyard.
Here are some statistics:
- There has been more than an 800% increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking in the last 5 years.
- More than 6,000 children have been recovered by the FBI since 2003.
- The average life expectancy of a child enslaved is only seven years.
- There are 750 thousand predators online.
- 1 out of 3 youth on the street (runaways or kicked out) are at high risk of being approached by a trafficker within 48 hours.
- The foster system is nationally recognized as a pipeline for commercial sexual exploitation of children.
What can we do about this horrific problem?
Let’s start by knowing some of the signs (it is recommended we look for a combination of warning signs) of a potential victim:
- Inappropriate attire for situation or weather.
- Sudden change in behavior, clothing, possessions.
- Running away.
- Tattoos or branding.
- Gang involvement.
- Malnourished or ravenous appetite.
- Controlling friend or boyfriend.
- Burns, scars, unexplainable bruises.
- Motel room cards, gift cards, large amounts of cash.
- Seems drugged or disoriented.
- Fearful, anxious, startles easily, withdrawn, depressed, cries frequently.
- Won’t (can’t) talk to you or look at you, inconsistent stories, scripted answers.
- Frequent travels to other cities.
- Uses common sex industry terms.
Now, what do we do about it?
Educate yourself about the problem. Look into your local community college Foster & Kinship Programs for free classes. Go to sites such as http://www.polarisproject.org
Advocate for victim policy and protection. Write to your congressman and demand harsher penalties for perpetrators of sex crimes (the people who buy and those who sell.)
Watch for signs, and call for help if you think you spot a child who is being held by a perpetrator. Do not try to rescue the child, leave that to the police.
Stop buying products that exploit or objectify children, that also means no sexy, provocative or revealing clothing for your children.
To see images of missing children (a missing child may be in your neighborhood-know what they look like), visit the website http://www.missingkids.com
Help prevent victimization. Build healthy relationships with your children and foster children. Listen to what they say with their words and their body language.
Spread the word, build awareness, and share articles such as this one.
Hotline numbers and websites
National Human Trafficking Hotline 888-373-7888 http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children CyberTipline 800-843-5678 800-THE-LOST http://www.cybertipline.com
There are more people in slavery now than any other time in history! Together we can save these children and put a stop to this epidemic. Do you have any other tips on how to put an end to modern-day slavery? If so, please share. We’d love to hear from you.