“End trafficking now” is common rhetoric that we hear a lot from anti-human trafficking advocates and organizations. More often than not, people who want to contribute and make a difference have no idea what that really means, or how they can help achieving that. It’s important to understand the sources and causes of trafficking and the many approaches to the issue.
It’s also important to understand that we can all make a difference. Something seemingly insignificant such as sharing a post on social media can have an impact on trafficking. Here are a few ways to get involved in combating human trafficking in your everyday life.
Be Informed and Know The Sign
Get familiarized on your definitions and statistics. Watch and discuss films about human trafficking. Learn how modern slavery exists today, watch documentary about sex trafficking, or discover how forced labor can affect global supply chains. Read reports from the Department of State, UN, as well as set up web alerts to receive current human trafficking news.
It’s also important to challenge common myths of trafficking with facts. For example, labor trafficking happens far more than sex trafficking. Another example is, contrary to popular idea, trafficking doesn’t have to involve movement. The terms “human trafficking” and “human smuggling” are often used interchangeably, even though there’s clear distinction between the two.
Learn the red flags and indicators of trafficking, Take a training. OnWatch is a great place to start. Traffickers prey on those who are vulnerable, so it’s crucial to learn how to recognize traffickers’ recruitment tactics, and who to turn to for help in potentially dangerous situations. Host community conversations with parent teacher associations, law enforcement, schools, and community members regarding safeguarding children in your community.
Become a mentor to someone in need. Traffickers often target people who are going through a difficult time or who lack strong support systems. As a mentor, you can be involved in new and positive experiences in that person’s life during a formative time, and potentially saving them from being the targets of traffickers.
Side notes, you’re always learning, no matter how much researches you’ve done, how many reports you’ve read.
Spread The Word
Demand fuels exploitation, in order to stop the demand, you can share your knowledge with others and spread the words on human trafficking. Educate your friends and family and share campaigns to help them get familiarized with the issue, as well as what they can do to get involved. Some examples are HHS Look Beneath The Surface, DHS Blue Campaign, as well as other awareness resources. The DHS Blue Campaign, for example, works with federal, state, and local governments including law enforcement and non-governmental and other private organizations to combat human trafficking.
Oh, and don’t forget National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888. It’s important people are aware of it, so they can report and potentially help a victim right away.
Read about it online is one thing, but getting involved in person helps to truly understand trafficking. Volunteering locally, working on an internship or fellowship help.
To understand the landscape of trafficking, you can gain experience and knowledge through volunteering, internships or fellowships. Start from your own community, learn more about how you can get involved at home and then nationally, as well as abroad.
If you’re a college student, you can reach out to professor about learning more about human trafficking as part of a course or independent study. Partner with fraternities/sororities and other student groups on making human trafficking training mandatory is another good way to make a difference on campus. You can also join or establish a university club to raise awareness about human trafficking, or write a research papers on topics concerning human trafficking.
If you’re social media savvy, use your talent! It can be an effective way to garner attention and raise awareness of the issue. Posting on Facebook and Instagram, tweet about the issue. Also, don’t forget the hashtags! For example, #endtrafficking and #abolishslavery.
Another way to take action is to hold your local representatives responsible. Ask how they are addressing human trafficking. Let them know of community needs. Meet with and write to local, state, and federal elected officials.
It’s important for us to acknowledge that there’s so much that we don’t know about, and that we all have a lot more to learn about trafficking and ways to combat it. But it’s equally important to understand that while we won’t end trafficking overnight, working to better understand the issue, and taking the aforementioned actions - can go a long way in making an impact and working toward sustainable change. Let’s start today to #endtrafficking.