A topic that most people probably go through their day without paying much attention to is that of human trafficking. Many individuals do not think that human trafficking will ever affect them nor their families. However, the reality is that such a tragic event could happen to anyone regardless of age, race, or gender, it could occur at any given place or time, and the perpetrator could be absolutely anyone.
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Human trafficking has become a prominent problem in the United States, more specifically one of the states that most struggles with this problem is Texas. Some statistics stated on the official website for the attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, states that there is about 25 million people enslaved worldwide, 234,000 who are victims of labor trafficking in Texas, and 79,000 victims of sex trafficking of minors (Human Trafficking ). Although Texas has brought attention to the problem, there has not been a concrete solution to put a stop to it. One of the best solutions that could help drastically decrease human trafficking is educating children and adults over the signs of human trafficking because by doing so we can help spread awareness and prevent such event from occurring.
The problem we are facing here in Texas is that it is one of the three states in which human trafficking seems to be the most prevalent, given that it is one of the biggest states and because of its proximity to the Mexican border. As statistics show, there is a staggering number of people who have fallen victim to human trafficking. Michelle Lillie, a blogger and contributor to the Human Trafficking Search, wrote about these problems Texas faces, stating that for the most part in the media, human trafficking in Texas is portrayed as Mexican forced laborers trafficked through the borders. However, there is more to this claim. Some of the most vulnerable populations for human trafficking include runaways, which in Houston, TX, there is an estimated 6,000 runaway minors with an estimated 1 in 3 being lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of running away from home (Lillie). In other words, it is different types of people who are being trafficked, for either labor or sex trafficking. Texas is facing human trafficking on a broader scale, thus why there needs to be a solution to this problem. The solution for this problem is one that would effectively work for both adults and children, given that both groups could be potential targets for trafficking.
The solution I propose is that there should be more emphasis on educating people of all ages over the red flags of human trafficking. This would help people not be afraid of speaking up or being doubtful in getting help if they suspect someone could potentially be a victim of human trafficking. Educating individuals would also help them lookout for themselves and teach them how to prevent getting into an unwanted situation. We could start by educating children at school about the dangers of human trafficking and how it can happen to anyone, anywhere, and that the predator could be anybody, even someone close to them. They could do this by bringing up the topic to kids a couple of times throughout the school year instead of roughly going through it in an assembly once in the year. Parents should also be involved and also be educated about the dangers of sex trafficking because some might not be aware of how often it occurs or some of the signs, which could be helpful if they are unsure of reporting suspicious activity. Schools could host events to educate adults, which would help to get the community involved.
It is a good idea to get schools involved because as Yvonne Williams, writer for Human Trafficking Research, mentions that statistics show that about 90% of sex abuse occurs to a minor by someone they know and trust (Williams). If a student is suffering from such abuse by someone close to them then it is more than likely that they do not have support from home, meaning they might not have a place to turn to. If we spread awareness in schools about human trafficking then students could know that they have the school to trust, such as the staff, and the school could also provide them with resources for help. One reason that this is possibly the best solution to such a problem is because if we start to educate children at an earlier age, meaning in elementary school, then we could increase awareness early on and it would be easier to get parents involved in contrast if this were to be done in high school. One person who knows how significant it is to educate children early on is Dr. Kimberly McGrath, a founder of Citrus Helping Adolescents Negatively affected by Commercial Exploitation or CHANCE program for short. The program aims in being able to aid victims of human trafficking.
When talking about the subject, Dr. McGrath points out that traffickers spend a substantial amount of time grooming their younger victims, given that it is easier for those victims to believe they are in relationships. Dr. McGrath believes that it is a good idea to start teaching kids about human trafficking in elementary school given that the average age of entry for sex trade is from 12 to 13 years old. She points out that it would be too late if we start to implement human trafficking into education in middle school to high school (Cordner). As Dr. McGrath points out, younger children are more gullible and are the most targeted, thus why we should start to educate them over the signs of human trafficking because it would not only benefit them in learning, but their parents as well. Another reason that this is the best solution is because as seen by various statistics, some of the most vulnerable populations for human trafficking include: runaways, children in foster care, immigrants, victims of physical and sexual abuse, and drug addicts. Given that some of these groups do not have resources to turn to and might not be educated over the topic of human trafficking in general, then it is a good idea to have a platform to educate them. Schools serve as a resource for the community, so hosting events will not only benefit students but communities as well.
Someone who highlights the importance of schools in human trafficking education is Jene?© Littrell, an administrator of safe and supportive schools for the San Mateo County Office of Education in California. Littrell points out that the integration of human trafficking education in schools should not be a onetime thing, such as an assembly, it needs to be an approach in which the whole school is involved, including the community (Pannoni). The end point that Littrell wants to make is that schools are a powerful tool when it comes to educating over human trafficking and not only do they bring benefits do children, but the community that gets involved as well. With a complex solution come questions that need answers. Should schools inforce a program over education on human trafficking? Well schools should indeed do more to inforce human trafficking education, however it does not need to be a class that should be taken every day but it should not be something that is skimmed over by one assembly. Or what about the question: How will you get parents to agree to educate their children over human trafficking when some of them refuse to talk about it because the topic is related to sex? In that case parents need to look at the bigger picture and decide if they want to educate their children early on over something that they will eventually have to know about, or regret not teaching them if a tragedy occurs because they did not want to educate their children. Taking everything into account, education over human trafficking could potentially be the best solution to the major problem that we face, especially in the state of Texas. Education could be the key to spread awareness and teach people over the red flags of human trafficking, for both children and adults. By doing so this could potentially save other victims already in human trafficking or prevent someone from becoming a victim. Adding to that, using schools for education over human trafficking can not only benefit the children, but also the community because they can be used to educate those who have no resources or help to turn to.
Cordner, Sascha. Human Trafficking Experts: Educate Kids About Dangers When They’re Really Young. WLRN, www.wlrn.org/post/human-trafficking-experts-educate-kids-about-dangers-when-theyre-really-young
Human Trafficking. Seal of The Attorney General of Texas, www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/human-trafficking. Lillie, Michelle. Top 3 States for Human Trafficking ? Human Trafficking Search. Human Trafficking Search, 22 Aug. 2017, humantraffickingsearch.org/top-3-states-for-human-trafficking/
Pannoni, Alexandra. How to Teach Teens About Human Trafficking. U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/high-schools/blogs/high-school-notes/articles/2017-02-21/3-ways-high-schools-can-educate-teens-on-human-trafficking.
Williams , Yvonne. The Educator’s Role in Talking to/Teaching Children about Human Trafficking Human Trafficking Search. Human Trafficking Search, 22 Aug. 2017, humantraffickingsearch.org/the-educators-role-in-talking-toteaching-children-about-human-trafficking/
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