Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Declared by the U.S. Congress in 2007, the day designated for this issue occurs annually on January 11 and falls during Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
This is a day set aside for special recognition of trafficking. Awareness of trafficking is necessary because it’s the first step in addressing and eradicating this problem. You can’t fix what you don’t know; recognizing and understanding a problem are needed in order to resolve it. Awareness is needed because too often we think that the scourge of trafficking, including sex trafficking, is something that happens in other countries, other states, other cities, other communities or other families. The truth is that it is happening right here in our country, and it’s not always perpetuated by a faceless “bad guy.” Many children become victims of sex trafficking at the hands of their own family members – sometimes by their own parents. Or sex trafficking of a child can start while that child is alone in their own home, a supposedly safe place, while that child is online. Sex trafficking is happening right here, right now, sometimes in the everyday places of our lives.
Prevention – something else this period of special recognition for human trafficking in January is about – is another part of the process of addressing and eradicating sex trafficking. Prevention is making sure children don’t fall prey to traffickers in the first place. It’s helping children and their parents and other people who supervise and care for them (teachers, church leaders, health care workers, law enforcement officials, and others) be aware of how sex trafficking happens so they can take action. When awareness occurs, prevention can happen. Prevention is avoiding sex trafficking by knowing how to respond in effective ways and having the tools to do that. In these ways, the evil sex trafficking industry is slowly dismantled.
How does awareness and prevention, among other responses and interventions to this widespread and pervasive issue, happen in the first place? That’s where we, Shared Hope International, come in. In existence for the past 25 years, Shared Hope has built up the expertise and experience to tackle sex trafficking. The sex trafficking industry is well-established and complex, so addressing it can’t be done overnight or with a silver-bullet intervention like a rescue of a trafficked victim in a foreign country. Tackling this industry isn’t a marathon but a sprint.
Shared Hope does awareness and prevention and a whole lot more. Our broad, three-fold response is described using the above methods and others:
Prevent: Through training, awareness and collaboration, we seek to inspire creative prevention strategies.
Restore: Our strategic guidance and funding helps local organizations expand shelter and services for survivors.
Bring justice: Our justice initiatives accelerate legislative and policy solutions to combat injustice and protect victims.
If you aren’t already part of Shared Hope – supporting our mission financially, using our resources, carrying out advocacy or connecting with us some other way – we invite you to join us in the fight against sex trafficking. We can all be aware of and prevent sex trafficking today, during January and every day.