How do we create an environment in which child sex trafficking and exploitation can no longer happen undetected? We get rid of the bystander.
Historian Yehuda Bauer once said:
“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”
Surrounding each situation of trafficking, there are bystanders. Yes, some choose to look away, fully aware that they are witnessing exploitation. But some are bystanders because of a lack of real awareness.
In order to end child trafficking and exploitation, we need to empower the members of our communities to not be a bystander.
The employee in the hotel lobby who saw an older man check in with a boy that looked a little too young to be out of school, but thought maybe he was visiting relatives.
The cashier at the truck stop convenience store that sold a bottle of soda to a young girl who looked a little afraid, but thought maybe she was just tired from a long trip.
The taxi driver who picks up a older man and a girl in front of a club and knows before they even get in that he’ll be asked to drive to a motel. She looks a little young, but he sees her smiling so she must be choosing to do this to make money.
There are bystanders like these in every city. By educating themselves with how to recognize and report child trafficking and exploitation, they can be empowered with the understanding they need to not be a bystander, but rather intervene and stand up for the victim.
At Love146, we believe that true awareness is seeing. The man at the check-in desk, the woman at the check-out counter, the taxi driver picking up customers all night long… they all very well may have seen a billboard that said that there are 21 million enslaved in the world, but until they can actually identify trafficking when they see it happening in their lobby, store or backseat, they are simply bystanders.
True awareness is empowering. By connecting the eyes and ears of our community to the information they need to be truly aware of what trafficking looks like, we empower our communities to be free of bystanders.