Human trafficking is a part of the seedy underbelly of our society that most of us would rather not have a conversation about. It’s hard to conceive of hundreds of thousands of people, most of them children and women, being either kidnapped or manipulated into psychological enslavement. So we turn our attention to more pleasant topics.
That’s exactly the behavior traffickers count on from us to keep their activities hidden and their operations running smoothly.
Even the lowest estimates suggest that something like 100,000 kids are taken into human trafficking every year in the U.S. alone. It’s hard to get accurate statistics, of course, because labor and sex trafficking are both rooted in fraud and illegal activities at every level. But Nita Belles believes that number is far too low. Nita is the executive director of In Our Backyard, a non-profit organization linking arms with others across the country in the fight against human trafficking.
She’ll be with us on our radio program tomorrow to talk about the problem of human trafficking and to help us recognize the signs that someone – including our children or our children’s friends – are being manipulated by an individual or group for a nefarious purpose.
A small percentage of people enter human trafficking through kidnapping. Much more often, particularly here in western culture, traffickers befriend their target. They’ll say and do nice things for the person. They woo them, draw them in, and gain their trust.
Not surprisingly, children and young girls are especially susceptible to such psychological grooming. Before they even recognize they’ve handed over their power and ability to choose, they’re trapped in some form of labor or sex trafficking.
Knowing what to watch for and how to respond is crucially important for us to know. Intervening personally could be dangerous for you and for the person you suspect is being victimized. Traffickers often keep a very close eye on the people they’ve enslaved. Instead, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
This program isn’t graphic, but it’s still not suitable for younger children, so please use your discretion and occupy your kids elsewhere, or else listen later online or download the program. Our conversation with Nita, titled “Understanding the Scope of Human Trafficking,” will be enlightening, disturbing, and frustrating all at once. Human trafficking is an egregious assault against humanity, but it’s an important topic to talk about nonetheless.
Nita’s book, In Our Backyard, is available in our online bookstore.
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