Human trafficking is an overwhelming social issue of our day. When I speak to churches and groups in the community and they discover that human trafficking exists in the US, in their city, down the street from their house, or potentially to their daughter; they are dumbstruck. It is safer to believe that human trafficking is a social issue in Thailand or Cambodia, and that the International Justice Mission has got it covered. What happens when it hits closer to home?
This realization hit me hard, too. The fact that youth in my city, or even my church, are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation left me with a pang in my heart. The temptation was to find another issue to care about that seemed less daunting. But after reading Somebody’s Daughter (by Julian Sher), I became acutely aware that I could not simply sit back and watch this unfold.
Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) is an issue that we all contribute to and are affected by in some way. This tragedy is birthed out of social inequality and individualism gone wild. Youth who are at greatest risk for exploitation suffer the effects of poverty—and not simply material poverty. The exploitation of our youth arises, in part, when parents are not connected to children in a way that keeps them safe from harmful predators. In upper and middle class families, that parent child divide happens when the parent is too busy to meaningfully engage in their child’s life. For families with fewer financial resources the reasons for lack of parental involvement are different, but the outcomes are the same. Bottom line, parents and guardians must protect children. I’ll write more about other contributing issues in later entries.
So where does this leave you and me? Maybe you live in a rural town like me, or perhaps you are safely nestled in a suburban community with a busy schedule. How can we be part of the solution? In my next entries on the NWYM Peace with Justice blog, I want to expand on both societal causes and ways to engage. Today I encourage you to get informed. If you are a book reader, check out Somebody’s Daughter. If you’d rather look at websites, two trusted ones include: http://www.polarisproject.org/ or if you live in the Portland area check out Multnomah County’s web page http://web.multco.us/dcj-juvenile/csec. I encourage you to fight the temptation of justice paralysis. Do what you can where you can.
Contributed by Cara Copeland, Newberg Friends