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Human Trafficking Awareness comes to BAHS

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Senior Mellissa Walters shows off a poster made for the event.

Senior Mellissa Walters shows off a poster made for the event.

Ally Martinez

Ally Martinez

Senior Mellissa Walters shows off a poster made for the event.

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Over a course of four weeks a non-profit organization called #ItStopsWithMe educated Mary Fowler’s classes on human trafficking, its ties to sex trafficking, and how to prevent it all from happening.  It showed how students can fight back against this form of exploitation and how to keep themselves safe.

“Unlock freedom exists to educate teens for the purpose of prevention and activism,” said Annie Perkins co-founder and CEO of Unlock Freedom. “We hope to influence the way young people look at issues in our society that are fueling the sex industry, and we challenge them to affect change within their spheres of influence.”

Week one consisted of the facts about human trafficking and the growing rate in the United States.

“We are educating youth about sex trafficking because they have the right to know that it’s a major problem in our country,” Unlock Freedom facilitator, Mandy Malloy said. “Prevention and awareness is key to change, and we believe our youth can stop it and make a difference in their communities

Students seem to agree.

“The thing I liked most about week one was that we were able to learn about what sex trafficking actually was and that the predators take you unwilling. It’s scary to see the facts like that,” senior Brielle Kraus said.

Week two taught about “the fuel” of sex trafficking and why it has become a major problem in the United States.

“It surprised me that pornography was such a huge contributor to sex trafficking. It’s devastating that so many people are being forced to do porn, and no one even knew about it because we ALL assumed it was their own free will and lust for money,” senior Natalie Vang said.

Week three, students were educated on “the formula,” or the victim’s mental and physical state that predators use to target them.

“I’m glad that they showed us the warning signs and safety tips about sexual predators online – now I can feel safe online,” senior Amber Boatman said.

Week four was simply entitled “The Fight” and was centered around ways for students to report sex trafficking, speak out against it, and how to support victims.

“It taught us to not be quiet and to stand up and speak out against it,” senior Melissa Waters said

Teacher Mary Fowler felt it was important to bring “It Stops With Me” to her classes.

“I used to believe human sex trafficking was like the movie ‘Taken,’ but after these sessions, I have learned victims are vulnerable due to abuse, homelessness, or lured in by social media,” Fowler said. “If the current  generation of teenagers can be informed, and through that, be able to watch out for the younger generation, then that can make all the difference.”

 

FACTS ABOUT SEX TRAFFICKING

Week one was entitled, “The Facts.” It educated students on hard to face facts. For example, the average age for Americans to be trafficked is thirteen years old. As a whole, there are more slaves than ever before in history, but the slaves of our day, is concealed under “pimps’ and we wrongly label them as a “prostitute.” The majority of people who are victims of human trafficking, become the victim of sexual exploration. In fact, sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the United States. These victims are unable to get help from this sexual abuse due to fear, manipulation, shame, distrust of law enforcement, and loyalty.

Week two educated students about the fuel of sex trafficking. There can not be an industry without demand, so much like any illegal trafficking, sex trafficking has a huge demand. Unfortunately, pornography is the main reason for people to look into the sex industry. Not a lot of people know this, but the actors on that screen, is not always willing. Many actors are forced into pornography everyday, and clients unknowingly support sex trafficking by buying and watching porn. Porn leads to an escalated demand for sex, which adds to the vicious cycle of trafficking. In America, the sex industry is everywhere. Television glamorizes sex by using sexual appeal in commercials, movies, and music and this desensitizes our society.

Week three covered the formula in which predators target their victims. Fact, most predators search for their victims in common places such as the malls, the movies, local shelters, and they even come to schools. Methods of manipulation includes familial trafficking (family member selling another family member), friend trafficking (when a friend sells another friend) and when boyfriend/girlfriend sells the other. However, there is hope: Here is some online safety tips to keep safe while surfing the web.

  1. Don’t post personal information
  2. Turn off location settings on your cell phone.
  3. Only add or follow people you personally know
  4. Don’t send/post sexually explicit photos
  5. Be very cautious in chat rooms
  6. Always report suspicious activity online at Cybertipline.com, or call (888) 373-7888, or text 233-733

Week four was called “the fight.” It encouraged students to Speak out against Sex Trafficking by reporting  suspicious activity that is seen. The jist? Protect yourself and support those affected by it. It can happen to anyone. Start rising up; Change the world.

#ITSTOPSWITHME

 

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Human Trafficking Awareness comes to BAHS