No one knows exactly how many people trafficking affects — some say 20.9 million, others say 29.8 million — and frankly, no one will ever know for sure. But behind every disputable estimate is a real person that cannot be dismissed, and their stories are what fuels me and my co-workers at Love146.
My name is Elaine Kim and I work with Love146, an international non-profit fighting to end child trafficking and exploitation. As someone who spends their day talking to people all over the country about trafficking, I get asked all the time: “What can I do?”
It’s not a difficult question to answer… it’s more about how many times someone is willing to ask. Trafficking is a complex injustice and there’s no blanket solution that will get rid of it once and for all. The end of child trafficking and exploitation will come from people asking that same question over and over again.
So what can you do? The answer for right now is that you can get involved with advocating for legislation that protects children and fights vulnerabilities.
The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2013 (learn more about it here) is a critical piece of legislation that works to ensure that child victims of human trafficking are being properly identified and receiving the services they need. It’s currently being considered by committees in both the House and Senate, and we can show our government that we want it to become a law.
Runaways from group homes, children in foster care, homeless teens… victims and children at risk of trafficking in the United States often come into contact with child welfare systems. For example, a 2007 study conducted in New York State, showed that more than 85% of identified commercially sexually exploited children in New York had prior involvement with child welfare systems.
Vulnerable children are already coming into the system and if The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2013 became law, child welfare systems would be equipped to use existing resources to serve youth better. It would establish training programs so child welfare agencies can better detect and respond to youth who have been sexually trafficked or exploited.
Here’s where you come in.
We’ve partnered with Polaris Project to make it easy for you to tell your local representative that you want The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2013 (or H.R. 1732 and S. 1823) to become law.
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And after you’ve done that, make sure you ask yourself: “What’s next?”