blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff
By: Meagan Roland
As I prepare to go to NYC for the GYC human rights in the USA program, I have been thinking about the 27 million slaves currently in the world today, many of them being children. The forced labor and sexual exploitation of children, otherwise known as child trafficking, has become an epidemic that has captured many children as slaves. This is not just happening to children in foreign countries such as Cambodia or Bosnia, it is also happening right here in every part of the United States including New York City. When you were a child you probably didn’t have to worry about being forced into labor to pay off your family’s debt, or being sold into the sex trade by your own parents. While these things seem crazy and rare, they are all too real for millions of children around the world, and that is absolutely unacceptable.
One reason the trafficking industry has gotten to be so big is because so many people do not realize, or choose to ignore that it is happening. For a long time I myself didn’t know it was happening either. I didn’t have a clue what child trafficking was, but when I did find out I most definitely did not choose to ignore it. These children need our help, not for us to pretend that the nightmares they are living aren’t real. An example of our ignorance as a whole is shown in a film called “Sex and Money”, produced by Gregory Alan Althoff. In this film a group of people traveled all over the United States to find out more about trafficking in the U.S. When they were in New York they interviewed random people on the street to get an idea of what the general public knew about human trafficking. Their answers can be viewed here, in the beginning of the movie trailer.  This is a perfect example of why this problem is so heavily ignored.
While many people choose to ignore that child trafficking exists, there are many others that are standing up against it and raising awareness all over the world. I know this because I am one of those people. I am part of the International Justice Mission, which is a group that has chapters at college campuses all over the United States that work to raise awareness of human trafficking in their communities and also around the country and even the rest of the world. There are many groups and organizations that have the same goal, and as a result more and more people are discovering what child trafficking is.
Children that become victims of child trafficking are forced to do things that most of us couldn’t even imagine. Our society spends so much time paying attention to reality shows, social media, and other sources of entertainment that we ignore horrible things that are happening around the world that could be stopped or prevented. As a society we need to open our eyes and be aware of what is happening around us, believe it or not you can help save lives that way. There are signs of child trafficking that you can be aware of and look out for no matter where you live. Some of these are: if a child says they are just visiting and cannot tell you where they are staying, if they have an inconsistence in their story, if they are constantly nervous or paranoid, or if they appear malnourished and lack health care. These could all be signs that the child is being trafficked, but there are also many more to look for. You can find out more about what to look for here.  By simply reading this page and being aware of the people around you, you could help save a child’s life.