My first experience with this phrase is deeply etched in my mind: A young girl shared that she had met a group of people — people she thought were her friends. When things began to change, she wasn’t aware what was happening until it was too late. She said, “If only I’d known then what I know now.” These “friends” became her traffickers. They identified her vulnerability and need for connection, and they skillfully exploited it.
In my first year as a staff assistant working at the U.S. Department of Education, I attended a lot of meetings. Six years removed there are few that I remember, but one lingers in my mind. Looking across the table at the people who had gathered, I remember saying something to the effect of: “Wait, are you telling me there are potentially trafficked kids in our schools?”