Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings, mainly for the purposes of forced labor and sex trafficking. As the world’s fastest growing criminal industry, it affects every nation across the globe. Every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim of modern-day slavery. We talk about sex trafficking a lot in third world countries, but what does it look like right in our own backyard?
Human trafficking is on the rise in the United States. Over 17,500 victims are trafficked in the U.S. annually and approximately 33% are American citizens. The full scope of the problem has yet to be determined, as the crime of human trafficking is often intertwined with drug trafficking and prostitution.
Prostitution of minors is considered trafficking under federal law. The average age of a trafficking victim is 12 years old. Child victims in the U.S. are often runaways, troubled and homeless youth. These children are often viewed as the typical “prostitute”—like this was their choice. What thirteen-year-old criminal mastermind can drive up highway 80 and use her credit card to rent a hotel room and place her ad on the Internet? She can’t…There’s someone else behind it and there’s something else that’s going on.
The statistics can be so overwhelming. It all seems like too much for one person to handle. What kind of difference can a single person possibly make?
The truth is, our small choices matter. And we have to start somewhere. Lots of people making lots of small decisions in their everyday lives can and will lead to huge impact. Edward Everett Hale was a minister and author who was an active voice in the anti-slavery movement during the Civil War. He said,
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
Let’s start small, practical, and realistic. Here are four ways for you to make modest changes in your life and begin to make an impact on modern day slavery. The cool thing is, none of these ideas ask for a simple swipe of a credit card; instead, they encourage education, promotion, and action.
- GET EDUCATED.
A huge problem in the fight for freedom is people not truly understanding the issue. So many believe it’s not happening here and that it could never happen to them or their children. This is not true. It’s so important to educate yourself on what’s going on.
- SPREAD AWARENESS.
Although the issue is coming into the light more and more, we still have a ton of work to do when it comes to exposing the problem. An issue so huge will only be solved when it is in front of everyone’s faces. Doing something as simple as wearing a shirt can help spread awareness about the issue into your grocery stores, your gym, and the gas station. The Parative Project (check out their Kickstarter here!), A21 Campaign, and Sevenly are some of my favorites.
Also, since most of us are on social media several times a day anyway, it is an easy way to raise awareness, show support and encourage conversation about the issue, so post, hashtag, and tweet away!
- DO IT TOGETHER.
Unite with your tribe and make a commitment to work at this together. Not only will it be easier and more fun to stay consistent, but we also know that one person alone cannot solve a problem this huge. Initiate conversation with your friends. Ask each other questions like: Why do we need to expose this problem? How does this impact me? How would the world look differently if slavery was obliterated? In what ways could I change my lifestyle as a consumer in order to demand my products be made fairly? Then take your baby steps together.
- PARTICIPATE IN FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Join us Nov. 7 to raise funds for the Poiema Foundation, a local ministry serving girls and women who have been victimized by sex trafficking. This is a partner competition with 4 divisions (male/male RX, female/female RX, male/male scaled, female/female scaled). We’re so excited to be giving back to this amazing cause.
Let’s work together, taking one step at a time, to make our world one that is free.