All my life my mother had always told me, “Look both ways before crossing the street. Don’t eat too much candy; it will rot your teeth.” And of course, the infamous, “Don’t talk to strangers.” But every mom says that, right? Not every parent. I never knew that having a mother and father who cared so much about me was so rare. Right here in the U.S., Mothers are selling their own children- their own flesh and blood- in order to make a couple bucks. Fathers are sexually abusing their daughters who later grow up to lead a life of prostitution. Recently becoming an intern for Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now has instantly opened my eyes to the immensity of Human Trafficking. I have always been aware of the situation, but I never knew the true enormity of it.
A couple Sundays ago I had my first day at my new internship. I was excited to be able to get off work and attend, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. We watched a movie called Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. Nefarious is one of the first hard-hitting documentaries on Human Trafficking. Listening to stories told by real victims made it ten times more real for me. I have heard of Human Trafficking; I know what the legal definition is, but to hear the statistics of how many young girls actually sold like a piece of property was astonishing. Girls between the ages of 11-14 are kidnapped, falsely recruited or sold by their own family every day; it’s a business, and that’s sad. It is true that a young girl could be sold over and over again, valuing higher than most material items. It is true, unfortunately, that a young girl is most likely easier to manipulate than a women in her twenties.
Although there are sadder situations where family is involved, there are some preventable situations. Some girls are simply uneducated about it; they are unaware of how easy it could happen. They do not know the signs of manipulation by a so-called “boyfriend,” forcing them into prostitution. They do not know how to get out of an abusive relationship or family and ask for help. They are solely being taken advantage of, because they feel they cannot get out. This can be prevented.
One word. Awareness. By continually teaching the upcoming generations, we can help them avoid these situations. And sadly, if they are in these situations, we can help them realize that there is hope for a better life. Human trafficking is happening all around us and people choose to ignore it, pushing it aside like it won’t happen to them. But in reality, it can happen so easily. No one needs to be treated like property. No one should be sold. Educate your children.