About You and Human Trafficking | Truth #1
Did you know it’s National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month?* For the last five years I’ve worked as an educator, speaker and volunteer in this area. At first I felt overwhelmed by the complexity of this global reality. Yet in the end, it isn’t overwhelming.
Why not? Because it’s about real people like you and like me deciding not to look the other way. It’s about practicing small habits of life and heart based on three simple truths. We’ll look at one today.
Truth #1 – When you or I touch the life of just one person who has been trafficked or is at risk of being trafficked, that’s more than enough!
- We’re not called to save the world. We are, however, called to get off our butts!
- Pray. Give. Get interested. Listen and learn. Pass it on!
- Better yet: Take a risk! Make a ruckus! Do something!
- Show just one person that someone remembers them and cares! EVEN IF you don’t always know what to do or what to say.
Every day, in any middle or high school in this country, young women are at risk of being trafficked. Somebody’s daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend. This includes
- the honor roll crowd with big plans to go to college
- the young people who always look happy
- who seem to have a lot of friends, and
- seem to feel good about themselves
But maybe, on the inside, they’re more like the unhappy young woman you see every day. Maybe she lives with you. Or just next door. Maybe she goes to your school where you’re a student or where you work.
Four quick scenarios
#1 – It’s lunchtime at the local high school. You notice her sitting alone in a corner of the cafeteria.
- Go sit with her! Befriend her—even though you think she doesn’t want or need a friend. You’ll never know unless you make the first move.
- Talk to her. Even better, listen to her.
- Remember her name and greet her the next time you see her.
#2 – So now you’ve befriended her. Maybe she talks a lot about her many boyfriends. Do you know who they are? Where and when she meets them? Do you care enough to try to find out?
- Talk to her. Ask questions.
- If you have concerns, talk to someone who can help you think about what to do next.
- Do you know whom you would talk with about this unhappy young woman? What you would say? Do you know why it’s OK to do this–why it’s sometimes OK not to keep ‘secrets’?
#3 – Maybe this young woman acts out a lot and seems to be looking for attention. What kind of attention do you think she’s going to attract?
- Are you willing to go sit with her and talk with her? Maybe she’s looking for help. Maybe she just needs someone to pay attention to her and get to know her.
- Better you than a slightly older, mature, handsome man in his 20s who has cash in his pockets and is looking for a young woman so he can pretend to be her boyfriend and gain her trust so she can ‘fall in love’ with him and believe that he would never do anything at all to harm me! In fact, he wants to marry me and move to another city! How exciting is THAT???
- Do you know how to recognize male or female con artists?—who care nothing about Truth or about this young woman?
#4 – Maybe you already know this young woman does drugs or that she falls asleep in class a lot, or that she seems fearful, hesitant, or dismissive when you want to talk with her. She insists that she knows exactly what she’s doing!
- Hmm. What kind of drugs is she doing? Who’s her supplier? Is it a boyfriend? Is he pimping her out to support his ‘business’?
- With whom can you talk about this? Who will know what needs to be done? Are you ready?
- This young woman is in grave danger, even though her boyfriend-supplier may not be pimping her out. Not yet.
Here’s the bottom line: When you see a young woman who seems to be in distress, lonely, anxious, acting out, or anything else that catches your attention as unusual, GET NOSEY! Nice doesn’t work!
Observing, caring and getting interested could save her life—even though she may tell you to get lost. You’re not there to be her savior or her best friend. You’re there because she needs to know there’s someone in this world who cares about her!
Still not convinced? Try putting yourself in her shoes.
- Maybe you already know personally what it’s like to feel lost and lonely. Or scared and not sure what to do next.
- Maybe you know what it’s like to be found—found by one of God’s courageous sons or daughters.
- Or maybe you’re still waiting for someone to care about you.
- Either way, be the person you’d like someone to be for you.
To be continued….
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 January 2015