Recently, the horrific realities of human trafficking have been discussed more prevalently on social media. It’s amazing to see this coming to light, and I love that people want to do something about it!
But it can be hard to figure out what to do. Human trafficking is such a huge issue. Between 2012 and 2016, there were over 24,000 identified cases of sex trafficking in the United States (source 1). That doesn’t even include the cases in the rest of the world, labor trafficking, or sex trafficking that wasn’t caught.
With thousands upon thousands of victims, how can we possibly make a dent?
Start right here
Human trafficking doesn’t start in a dark alley, or a sleazy motel, or in the slums of a crumbling city. Yes, those are all places that human trafficking can and does happen, but it also happens right where you are.
It can happen in that nice hotel and conference center in your town. It can happen in a home a few blocks away. It can happen in a local daycare (source 2) or dentist’s office (source 3).
If human trafficking starts right here, the response also needs to start right here.
Three practical steps
That’s all very well and good to say. Now let’s talk about three things you can do to actually make a difference.
1. Reach out to the vulnerable population
Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, but there are some risk factors that make it easier for someone to be exploited. Here are some of the major ones:
There’s a wide range of things on that list—including many things that apply to people you know.
Instead of trying to take the huge, unmanageable task of combating human trafficking head on, you can help prevent people from getting trapped in it in the first place. You can do this by helping them to eliminate or manage the risk factors that make them vulnerable.
You can’t necessarily reach out to everyone on that list, but you can reach out to someone.
Some practical ideas to get you started:
2. Support the children and youth of the community
When people are being trafficked, it’s because someone is benefiting from it. Sex trafficking wouldn’t be a problem if people didn’t visit prostitutes or watch porn (both of which are largely fueled by human trafficking) (source 4). Labor trafficking wouldn’t exist if everyone was honest and hardworking so they didn’t exploit other people.
You can’t change everyone’s hearts. In fact, you can’t change anyone’s heart.
But you can make a difference. The people who do those things didn’t just pop into existence. They were children once.
If we want the next generation of adults to respect human life and dignity, we can’t wait until they’re adults to start instilling those values in them. We have to start now. Parents have the biggest role in this, of course, but teachers, summer camp counselors, Sunday School teachers, youth group volunteers, and other leadership can also have a big impact.
Anyone can agree with that and get involved in youth leadership, which is fantastic. But for Christians, we take it a step farther. Ultimately, if we want kids to grow up to value other people, we need to help them see others the way God does. We can’t focus their hearts to love people instead of exploiting them. But God can do just that. Our role is to point kids toward Jesus.
So yes, helping out with the church’s children’s ministry is one of the many ways to fight human trafficking.
3. Help victims find their way out
Though human trafficking can look like imprisoning people so they physically can’t leave, it can also involve manipulating people so they won’t leave. Maybe they don’t know where to go, or don’t think anyone wants to help them. Their abusers might be using drugs to coerce them comply. Perhaps they’re afraid to leave for their own safety, or because of blackmail. They might not even realize that there’s another way to live.
There are many organizations out there that are equipped to help victims of human trafficking, but if people don’t reach out for help, there isn’t much that those organizations can do.
Victims of human trafficking are in many different situations. Some might have full access to the internet, while others might be highly restricted. Some might be allowed to travel freely, while others might only be allowed to leave with someone escorting them. By presenting the information about how to seek help in several different forms, we can help people in many different situations find help.
Here are a few ways you can help get the word out:
We can’t change the world—but change starts with us.
We can’t expect human trafficking to disappear overnight just because people are more aware of it now. But we can make it happen less. We can reach out to the victims and the vulnerable, helping and supporting them. We can’t stop the great evil that has plagued the world for thousands of years, but we can make a difference in the lives of the people impacted by it right in our hometowns or online spheres of influence.
Things are on the right trend as far as awareness for the issue. Now we need to act quickly, reaching out to those who need help.
The fight starts here.
The fight starts now.
The fight starts with us.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Source 1: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/04/sex-trafficking
Source 2: https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-human-trafficking-20180907-story.html
Source 3: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/02/26/walnut-creek-arrest-reveals-secret-world-of-child-sex-trafficking-girls-as-young-as-9-allegedly-being-bought-and-sold-in-the-bay-area/
Source 4: https://blog.theexodusroad.com/porn-and-human-trafficking-the-facts-you-need-to-know
Hi, I'm Rachel. I write adventure stories, but I can't let my characters have all the adventures.