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This Saturday marks a day that has gone by for me, sad to say, largely unnoticed since its inception. Since 2012, January 11 has been Presidentially-designated as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
It came to my attention after our church did a "reverse offering" one week. Each family was given a small envelope with a few dollars and encouraged to use it to make a difference. Only 2 caveats: 1) don't give it back to the church, and 2) don't keep it.
After some thought and prayer, my hubby suggested we use it to help with the war against human trafficking. It seemed a pittance, but then I decided to add my voice....
As homeschoolers, we often feel our children are safe and secure. I mean, we're with them almost 24/7, right? Especially when they're little. And even as teens, we often know where they're going and who they're with. But if our children's safety is the only thing we consider, well, that's really so very shortsighted of us.
Human trafficking breaks the very heart of God. And as such, should break our hearts, too.
What IS human trafficking?
Generally speaking, human trafficking is defined as "... the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. ... Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation." source
Human trafficking around the globe often looks very different from what it does in the US.
- unsuspecting parents are targeted every day and offered money for their children, feeding them false promises of achievement and opportunity;
- there are places where parents view their children, especially daughters, as commodities, areas in which child rape is not only accepted but considered “normal;”
- people in desperate situations are targeted with enticements of love or false opportunity and ending up trapped in slavery.
Here in the States, the picture looks more like this:
Victims of human trafficking in America are the children and teenagers being used in the production of homemade pornography...terrified to be discovered and yet desperate to be found.
They are the children roaming the streets...vulnerable to “love” because they’ve never known it, and...vulnerable to “opportunity” because they believe they’ll never have it.
[They are]...the naive and unsuspecting adolescent online, preyed upon by internet “loverboys” and stolen right out of their own home.
Learn the facts, and take a look at the numbers...
Why should homeschoolers spread awareness of human trafficking?
Because we can. Home educators have both the privilege and luxury of choosing what to study and, often, how and where to be involved throughout their day. Especially while in high school, volunteerism is a wonderful addition to an educational program, preparing teens to operate in an adult world and manage themselves a bit more professionally.
However, nobody wants to feel like they're wasting their time - teens included. Informing them about this tragedy, and inspiring them to work towards ending it, can be life-changing on so many levels.
An Action Guide - 9 ways homeschool families can get involved
1 Pray that God would provide people, resources, and opportunities to save enslaved young people at home and abroad. Pray for their safety and their salvation. Pray that God would show you and your family how you can best serve Him by being involved in the fight.
2 Raise awareness at home, with a small group of families, or in your co-op by presenting this short curriculum by AnniePerkinsMinistries. "Project #itstopswithme" is a 4-lesson program that develops awareness and encourages young people to get their activism on!
3 If he or she is really passionate about the cause, your teen (or a retired homeschool mom) could consider finding a job in an organization that works toward ending trafficking. This site lists a few organizations, and even provides tips on landing a job!
4 The US State Department has a great resource, 15 ways to help fight human trafficking, with ideas for everyone from students to attorneys and in-between.
5 Do a fundraiser in your community or co-op and purchase a Survivor's Kit, containing a month's supply of food, clothing, bedding, and personal hygiene products for women who were saved from human traffickers.
6 Buy some jewelry from The Starfish Project. (See their Gift Guide here.) Starfish Project is a social enterprise that cares for women coming out of exploitation in Asia. They employ over 140 women and served thousands through their Community Outreach Services.
8 Donate to the cause I posted about on my Facebook page. (Yes, I'm willing to do a shameless plug for the cause!)
9 Check out some of these websites for more inspiration and practical ways to help end human trafficking.
- The United Way Center on Human Trafficking and Slavery
- The US Department of Health and Human Services - Office on Trafficking in Persons
- Catholic Relief Services
- EndSlaveryNow.org - Learn. Connect. Act.
Whatever you do...please do something. And if you know of another resource, or have another idea, or have experience with this, feel free to share in the comments to inspire and educate us all...
Would you like a printable copy of this Action Guide?
Download a pdf version of the guide above so you can talk and pray about it as a family and decide what YOU will do! Thanks so much for getting involved.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40