Human trafficking is a form of modern-day bondage and something, I have to admit, I knew very little about.
In December, on a family day trip to nearby Virginia, my family and I visited two historical sites. One of those sites was the Ben Lomond House, which had a well-preserved slave cabin still standing on the property. An object of our ancestry, as well as history books, it was our first time ever stepping foot in one.
We learned quite a bit that day about how our enslaved ancestors celebrated Christmas and New Year’s. The most interesting factoids were that on Christmas, everyone (except the cook) was given the day off. On this day, they were “allowed” to indulge in spirits (liquor), party freely (mostly for the entertainment of their owners), as well as move about freely to other slave quarters and plantations.
My oldest son asked a significant question: “Mommy, are there still slaves?” My answer: “Nope.” And then I thought about it and rephrased. “Well, no, not like it was back then. Not like that in the United States. At least, not that we know of. It happens in a few small places in the world but not like it was here.” I stumbled on my words because I honestly didn’t know how right or wrong I was.
Turns out, I was kinda wrong.
Facts on Human Trafficking
Yesterday’s slavery is today’s human trafficking. An estimated 5.5 million children worldwide are victims of child trafficking. This illegal enterprise generates an estimated $32 billion in profits per year! Did you know that human trafficking existed in the United States? Reportedly, there are thousands of cases reported in every state. States with the highest rates of victims of human trafficking are California, Texas, Florida, and New York. If you think like me, your next question is, what is human trafficking in the U.S.?
Basically, human trafficking involves grueling forced labor with little or no pay, being bought and sold, and forced into prostitution. The definition of human trafficking encompasses labor trafficking which happens in restaurants, bars, hotels, agriculture, and construction. It also encompasses sex trafficking which happens in brothels, strip clubs, escort/massage services, as pimp-controlled prostitution, on the street or on the internet.
The U.S. Fund for UNICEF has launched the End Trafficking project, which raises awareness about child trafficking and mobilizes communities within the U.S. to take purposeful action to help protect children. Want to get involved?
On UNICEF’s site, you can find ways in which you can help end child trafficking. There’s a 1-pager, a toolkit, and educator resources for middle and high school. You can volunteer by joining the UNICEF Action Center or call 888-373-7888 to report potential cases.
We all have a hand in raising our world’s children. And it’s my firm belief that is our responsibility to keep all children safe and help them to have the happy childhood that they deserve. Tell me what you think. Did you know all of this about human trafficking?