I was so caught up in the Super Bowl win on Monday, that I forgot that it was National Missing Persons Day on February 3rd and that February is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. And it makes sense, if you think about it, since the Super Bowl itself helps spike the sex traffickers numbers. It isn’t the really the biggest sex trafficking magnet in the US, that’s sort of an idea that got out of hand, and I read this really interesting article about how that came to be at Reuters. But, sex trafficking is still a thing, a big, bad, uncontrollable thing that warrants more talking about, and scares the bejesus out of me.
The thing to remember is that sex traffickers work every, single, day, and they go where the demand is highest. So when a bunch of old, white men with loads of money show up at the Super Bowl, then there is the demand to have sex with children, sex traffic victims, and sex workers. Not saying it’s only old, white, men who perpetrate this system, but who else can afford $10,000 Super Bowl tickets, airfare, and lodging? I’ve heard bad things about large sporting events in general, and about old, rich, white men, in general.
But what we have to consider here is also the people who are taking the victims. Sure, it’s simple supply and demand, and we know who is demanding, so who is supplying? Well, that’s not an easy answer. The predators can be men or women, but they are likely family members, friends, or adults in the community who have access to the victims. Again, I found something on the internet you might want to read from The Joint-Efforts Project called Human Trafficking for Dummies. It’s a convienant PDF with quick facts. In it, they claim that women are usually the predators in the human trafficking world.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline breaks it down a bit more. The predators have access to the kind of people who are the most vulnerable. Think men and women who own fake massage businesses. Crew leaders on farms, who have first hand knowledge of the people who are easily exploited. People in the transportation business. Humans are an easy “good” to sell and transport, if you know what you are doing. The information below is straight from the National Human Trafficking Hotline website.
It’s not just sexual human trafficking either, it’s also exploited labor.
And worst yet, there are some of us who think that it isn’t happening where we live. I mean, sure I live in Atlanta, and we host several large events, and I know that like most big cities with large international airports, we are a hot spot for human trafficking, but what about someone who lives in Nebraska or Iowa? Well, check out this map from the National Human Trafficking Hotline:
Yeah, this is happening everywhere. So it’s something we all need to be aware of, especially if you have children, know children, work with children, care about children. And of course it isn’t just children. It’s also young adults, males and females, and many times it is runaways or foreigners who came here looking for better job opportunities.
It’s important to note that there is so much unknown about human trafficking, because it’s such an easily guarded, secret organization. Victims are often unable to escape, or too afraid to go to the police. They don’t have a way to contact their loved ones. They don’t speak English. There are so many reasons and ways that people do not get the help they need.
It’s also important to note that not all missing persons are missing because of human trafficking. Some missing persons could be victims of domestic violence, which is a whole other post. Kidnapping by parents or other estranged family members. That sort of thing is why we even have a National Missing Persons Day, but human trafficking accounts for the large portion of missing people. I’m adding some links below of sites you can find more information at, if you are so inclined. And I think we could all stand to be a little more inclined.
National Missing and Unidentified Persons System–Here you can search for people who might be missing in your area.
Klaas Kids–Website to learn more about Megan’s Law (see below) and protecting your children online and off.
I’m not sure why, but I felt called to share all this with you today. Maybe one of two of you had no idea, or will click a couple of the links. Maybe my mom friends will benefit from Klaas Kids, or maybe you have a family member who is lost. And if you know more sites, or have more info to share, please share it in the comments. I’m always up for learning more, finding better places to research, and for helping people. Always helping people.
I know I am “tender hearted” that’s what my mom always called it, but as an adult I can call it empathetic. And I used to be very sensitive about this. I used to force myself not to cry, not to look upset when I saw a child who needed help, or a woman standing alone in the rain at the bus stop. But something has changed in me over the last few years. Maybe because I am a mom now. Maybe because I have watched too much happen to the more vulnerable in our community. But we have to take stands when we see that a stand needs taken now. We have to help those who can’t help themselves. And I think it starts with admitting what is happening, seeing the world through a different, more informed set of eyes, and being willing to talk about how to help. Even if the help is out of your reach, you can still share and discuss, make people aware of the problems. Maybe it will reach to someone who can help in a different way.
Until then, as the kids say, “Stay Woke, y’all” or is it “Get woke!” Or “Be woke AF.” I don’t know, but you get what I’m slinging.