National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

By Kate Cousins, Cascade Twp. Branch

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month. This is a hard subject. It is heavy and uncomfortable, but as a community it is important we cultivate a space where we can talk about these issues. As we address this uncomfortable topic we are making a protective circle for victims and survivors to come forward, get help, and heal.

100,000 - 300,000 U.S. kids at risk of trafficking
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

1/3 teens lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home
National Runaway Hotline

15 (average number of times a trafficked minor sold per day)
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

These are not isolated events, and it does a disservice to the people who are susceptible to trafficking if we do not educate ourselves on how to recognize human trafficking. According to the Human Trafficking Work Group of Grand Rapids:

Sex trafficking happens throughout Grand Rapids:

· Through social media

· Through online ads or escort services

· On the street

· At truck stops

· Hotels

· Motels

· Residential brothels

· Strip clubs

· Phone sex operators

· Massage parlors

· Pornography

Victims can be:

· Any race

· Affluent or poor

· U.S. citizens

· Foreign nationals

· Women

· Men

· Children

· LGBTQ individuals

Not talking about human trafficking is easy. It is something we wish we could abolish from the world with a magic wand, but that isn’t how we end it. We all have to become allies to the victims and survivors. If you are interested in learning more, here are some helpful links and a booklist to get you started.
Human Trafficking Work Group (grandrapidsmi.gov)
warinternational.org
Human Trafficking | ICE

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