“My dark-skinned friends and I were sold for less. These aren’t just ideas about relative worth in society or perceived racial disparities – these are cold, hard numbers that taught us that white children were literally worth more than children of color. Trafficking exemplifies the continued racism and oppression that exists in modern-day America.” Due to the disproportionate number of children of color who are trafficked each year, human trafficking is a racial justice issue. It is time that we begin to have a comprehensive conversation about this matter in order to identify the root causes and be proactive about dismantling systems that perpetuate this crime.
A report from a Love146 social worker: Survivors of child trafficking live in lots of different settings, and I go where they go. One of my youth is living in a group home that only offers a certain generic shampoo, and as a black girl it leaves her curly hair dry and brittle. Imagine having a bad hair day – everyday – while you’re trying to do some really really hard emotional work, like recover from sexual assault and trafficking. Love146 makes sure needs are met so youth can focus on the huge task of reclaiming their lives. Sure, sometimes that has high price tags, but last week, just $8 got her some ethnically appropriate shampoo. And it was a big deal.
The documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” has appeared in the midst of a resurgence of interest in Mr. Rogers, fueled by a growing hunger for kindness in a world that has become increasingly angry and cynical. If you know anything about Mr. Rogers, you know his main theme was about the neighborhood — and about who the neighbor is. It’s a value that the children in our care remind us of on a regular basis.
No time for breakfast. Meet a new youth coming into our care. Go over safety planning. On to next appointment. Grab a salad. Meet with another youth who was the victim of a traumatic assault. Try not to cry. Remind myself that with the right support we know they can have wonderful lives.
“My father, now 89 years old with Alzheimer’s Disease, can’t recall my name. But my memories of him from my early years are more vivid today than ever— including what he taught me by example about being a father, and how I see a similar approach in how Love146 cares for children.”
We were thrilled when we noticed a spike in the number of people who viewed one of our videos. Until we looked deeper and discovered how the video had been hijacked as clickbait to attract precisely the audience we fight against — which only makes the problem worse.
A recent report from from the UK has everyone talking. On the surface, the news is disheartening. The number of British national children referred through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) has gone up by an astonishing 66 percent since 2016. In fact, the new numbers don’t point to an actual surge, but a noticeable change in practice of frontline staff who have received better NRM training and are now able to identify these children.
Resilience generally means the ability to bounce back or recover from trauma or difficulties. In the physical sense, resilience is the ability of a material to resume its shape, after being deformed. For the children in our care at the Love146 safe homes in the Philippines, resilience means more than that.
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.
Whenever we were with the children in public places, people would ask, “Who are all these children? Are they siblings?” I would say, they are cousins or they are playmates, or just ignored the question. Now I have determined that Love146 children will be called “scholars” instead of “clients” as they would be called in all the other safe homes or shelters in the Philippines. The children’s eyes lit up when they heard the word “scholar.” And as I explained why “scholar” is an appropriate term for them, I thought I saw great self-worth dawning upon their faces.