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More Than Talk

Reducing the number of sextrafficking victims through community involvement

· sex trafficking

Krista Pavey 

Working as a private investigator for almost a decade, I have spent a good portion of my career searching for missing people. Through my experience, I have gained some knowledge about the world of sex trafficking. I have had instances where I have seen trafficking situations first hand and have volunteered with organizations who provide services for victims. Until we decide to be outraged at the victimology, nothing about the number of sex trafficking victims will ever change. According to the Polaris Project, the main contributing factor to becoming a trafficking victim boils down to vulnerability. Polaris states, “The welfare state, homelessness in youth, those with mental illness, teens addicted to drugs and runaways are the most likely to be victims.” According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, only 0.1 percent of children are abducted by strangers. The focus needs to be on those who are most vulnerable to become victims. As a society, if we are concerned about trafficking, we have to start being concerned about the more vulnerable youth population in our own communities. Reform in the foster care system is paramount. For there to be reform, there have to be more healthy, well adjusted families willing to take in children who are vulnerable. The National Youth Foster Care Institute says, “The FBI estimates sex trafficking in the U.S. involves 100,000 children, and 60% of child sex trafficking victims recovered through FBI raids across the U.S. in 2013 were from foster care or group homes.” This is a staggering statistic. People that have stable family lives, should consider mentoring troubled youth, fostering, and/or volunteering. Let me get personal now. If you want to ask me about trafficking and what is being done, I want you to ask yourself the same question first. My answer is that we all have to do our part. In addition to working to locate and provide assistance to runaway youth, my husband and I made a personal commitment to try to help young people many years ago. My husband taught high school for 20 years and saw firsthand the difference a healthy family unit versus a dysfunctional family unit makes in the success of students. Over the years, we have found it exceptionally rewarding to mentor and even house several teens and college students who just needed family and unconditional love. They needed someone to listen. They needed someone to demonstrate adult skills and how to transition from being teens to adults. They needed someone to show them not only that they were worthy of love and acceptance, but also how to build a life for themselves and gain their independence. They needed help finding a vocation or enrolling in college, to be shown how to rent an apartment, how to access resources, how to budget, how to practice safe sex, and how to get help coping with trauma. If you want to not hear terrible headlines about trafficking, be this person for a struggling child or teen. A recent article in USA Today stated that nearly 15% of trafficking victims are runaways. If the statistics are true, fighting trafficking isn’t just a job for law enforcement to correct, but for communities to correct. What would happen if every person who felt outrage over human trafficking decided to volunteer in some way? What kind of impact would we see? I can only imagine that it would be substantial. The problem is, it takes people doing something besides expressing outrage. It takes people committing to helping other people. It takes people taking time out of their comfortable lives to accompany needy and vulnerable youth on their journey through difficult and often heartbreaking circumstances. If well adjusted members of society do not step up and help these kids, a trafficker will be glad to offer them stability their your place. So, I encourage everyone who feels a sense of outrage to search your soul. Ask yourself what you can do to make a difference. Even if you only make a difference to one child, isn’t it worth it?