Lately, I’ve been entertaining the idea of becoming a nurse midwife. I’m an English major. The hardest science class I took in college was Geography of the Oceans. But there’s a huge need, especially in other countries, for women to be educated and to have care during pregnancy. I think it would be interesting to try to make myself available to offer help to women who get pregnant as a result of enslavement. Could it be possible?
But the thing is, legislation is a huge part of fighting human trafficking, especially in the U.S. I could become a lawyer and make this stuff happen. There’s an organization called Polaris that has put out a list of 10 trafficking laws every state should have. I could help make those laws. That would be cool.
Still, there are women and children who are being rescued from their captors every day with no shelters to run to. There are not enough resources for recovering victims from such a traumatic experience. There are counselors and therapists needed to help these women deal with drug addiction, over-sexualization, kidnapping, and physical, psychological and sexual abuse. I could do that.
At the beginning of my End Slavery internship, I thought I would begin to figure out which path to pursue – nursing school, law school or social work.
Yet I’m finding that more than anything, I just want people to know that slavery still happens. I don’t think enough people know. If they did, I have to believe this issue would start to shrink and instead of growing. At the end of this school year, I had coffee with an old friend who I hadn’t talked to in a long time. When he heard the name of this organization, End Slavery, he misunderstood it as a mental or societal slavery. “You’re going there to fight the man,” he said, “Our society is enslaved by consumerism. That’s great!” This is an intelligent guy who prides himself on being educated. And he’s clueless.
The students on the campus of my Alma Mater – an institution blazing trails in education – have no idea that in our world, Human Trafficking and Slavery is the 2nd largest crime. They don’t know that in our country, roughly 300,000 people are enslaved and many of these people are American citizens. They have no idea that it’s happening in their towns – in the hotels and restaurants they drive past.
I feel a burning desire to drive my car down the street yelling these facts into a megaphone. “This is what’s happening and here’s what you can do about it!”
One thing this internship has shown me is that just about anyone can use their abilities to fight trafficking. It’s not that I want everyone to become social workers and lawyers. But if the future politicians, doctors, business people, broadcasters, celebrities, artists, teachers, engineers, etc… know what to look for, they could save millions of lives and generations of repetition.
So now I’m left exploring a whole new path. How can we get this information into the hands of 60,000 students? More importantly, how can we get them to pay attention? I am no speech-maker, I don’t know how to lead a movement. I just know that this is something people need to know about.
So career-wise, I keep coming back to education. During college, most people assumed I wanted to be a teacher. I was hesitant, but maybe that’s where I’ll end up.
Slavery is real. It’s everywhere. And it’s growing.
And every single person has the power to do something about it.
To find YOUR niche, please visit www.endslaverytn.org
For info to share with the youth in your life, see http://www.bethejam.org/
It’s a whole lot better to actually prevent someone from being trafficked than it is to rescue them after the fact, and it’s one of the most effective ways we can work in our communities.
Let’s think about the ways people get trafficked and what types of preventative measures might be useful.
In the case of sex slavery, sometimes girls* are recruited by a cute boy who acts like he has a romantic interest in them, a man who serves as a father figure, a girl who acts like a girlfriend or a woman who seems safe. Did you see the movie Taken? Remember the boy at the airport who shared a taxi cab with the two girls when they arrived from America for a European holiday? That boy was a recruiter.
There are cases in which a “girlfriend” invited the victim to her home for a sleepover, then the man who was allegedly her father (but really wasn’t) popped a drug into her drink. She wakes to find herself being raped by a succession of men.
Often kids from abusive homes are befriended by a charmer who poses as a boyfriend. He “loves” this girl and makes her feel special. Over time, he says that if she loves him, she will sell herself for sex to make the money they need to buy a house and live happily ever after. He becomes increasingly violent. He follows tried and true methods for breaking a girl into sex slavery. (There’s actually a manual to tell him how. For real.)
What if these young people—and their parents and teachers—had seen a presentation in school about the tactics and dangers of traffickers? If we simply opened some naïve eyes, how much heartache might be avoided?
My dream is to create a presentation to do just that, and bring it to schools, youth clubs, inner city and immigrant service providers and the like. It would take so little, to do so much good.
This project is very do-able, very affordable, and can be very effective. Like the idea of a slave-free community? Me too. Let’s make it happen!
Here‘s what you can do:
- Act in a short drama portraying the tactics of traffickers
- Direct this drama or write the script.
- Use your musical skills to write and/or perform a song that will stay in kids’ minds after the presentation, causing them to think twice if they encounter red flags.
- Once polished, video the presentation so we can distribute it more broadly.
- Take leadership. Organize and oversee this project.
- Donate toward the cause, to "work of Derri Smith for prevention."
Contact us here
* Boys and men are trafficked too. Because 80% of victims are female, I choose to use the feminine nouns and pronouns for victims.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JCvdwmK4y8] Of the 27 million slaves in the world today about half are children. According to research by the University of Pennsylvania, at least 100,000 AMERICAN children PER YEAR are used for pornography or prostitution. And here’s a simple statistic that never fails to pierce my heart: Two children are trafficked into sexual exploitation every minute Traffickers typically use recruiters. That might be a 16 year old boy who acts like he has a romantic interest in a girl. Or a girl around the same age as the targeted victim , or a woman. Someone who seems safe and who acts like they are the ones who will provide what the child is longing for: love, protection, affirmation and attention. Recruiters invest time cultivating a child’s trust until the day comes when the child is in a position to be handed over to a trafficker. Then everyone’s true motivations are revealed. So who’s vulnerable?
- Runaways 1/3 are lured into sexual exploitation within 48 hours of leaving home! 90% eventually end up in commercial sex trade. We need to warn young people and parents about the tactics and dangers of trafficking!
- Children on the fringes. These may be kids from abusive homes or those neglected by harried immigrant parents working two jobs to make ends meet. Or it may just be the chubby child who doesn’t quite fit in.
Traffickers are less likely to recruit from neighborhoods with social power. It’s riskier and a wide spread search is more likely. But I talked to a woman a few months ago who lived in an expensive, exclusive neighborhood and was trafficked by boy in her high school. I’ve read of traffickers targeting girls in rural Minnesota simply because they are sweet and wholesome, and sweet wholesome virgins bring the highest prices. Traffickers are driven by profit, so sometimes they will take increased risks. In our most recent local case, 16 and 17 year old girls from a rural high school were the victims. Anyone, of any race, in any locale and with any socio-economic status can become a trafficker’s prey. Traffickers will recruit from malls, schools, bowling alleys, skating rinks, playgrounds, theatres– anywhere children can be found.
- Human Trafficking, or modern day slavery, is the #2, and fastest growing, crime on the planet; a $32-billion-a-year business.
- Today there are 27 million people enslaved, more than at any other time in history.
- Slavery has been outlawed in every country but still occurs everywhere.
- The average price of a slave is 90 dollars, making modern slaves disposable people.
- The USA, along with Japan and Australia, are at the top of the list of wealthier receiving countries for foreign victims.
- Eighty percent of victims are female and fifty percent are children.
- Every minute two more children are forced into slavery; 1 million children are forced to work in the sex industry daily. At least 100,000 American children alone are used in pornography and prostitution each year.
- It is estimated that 200,000- 400,000 people are in bondage at any given time in the USA.
- Every year the slave population in the US grows upwards of 17,000.
- Suburbs, rural areas and small towns, and normal residential neighborhoods, are increasingly popular for this progressively computer based business.
What does that mean for us?
Buying differently: Select fair trade chocolate, freely made cars, clothing, jewelry and household goods. (See Free2Work.org)
Getting educated: Learn more about the issue including red flags for identifying the victims that may be hidden in plain sight. Start with notforsale.info and sign up for our newsletter at notforsaletn.org . We’ll send you a list of recommended books and links to video clips.
Taking Action: There’s a place for everyone in taking effective action to end slavery and aid its victims. Join the Abolitonist Movement today! Let us know you’re ready, by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.