As Sound of Freedom booms across the nation, a spotlight shines on child trafficking. Perhaps we hear a call to fight this sadistic crime. Yet standing against such a large-scale and horrific problem, we can feel powerless or unimportant. What impact can we really have?
The truth is our capacity for impact is great. There are many options for us to take action right here, right now, and they range from simple to soul-baring.
Easy and Impactful Action
One easy way to fight child trafficking is to support anti-trafficking organizations, such as Operation Underground Railroad. My sister’s father-in-law likes to say that ministry needs two things: people to do the work and people to pay for it. “I’m the guy who pays for it!” he says.
Programs that fight child trafficking need people to fund the work just as much as they need people doing the work itself. Even if we can’t dive in and rescue abused children ourselves (à la Sound of Freedom), we can offer financial support to those who do. It goes a long way!
Another simple way to fight child trafficking is to be your neighborhood watchdog. Which kids walk home alone after school? Who has a working single parent? It’s easy enough to watch out the window to ensure the special needs child gets home safely. We can spare two minutes to count the elementary schoolers disembarking from the bus stop and be sure nobody is missing. I do my best to keep an eye on my local kids when I don’t see a parent nearby. I hope they’ll never need me to run out there or call the cops. But if they do, I’ll be ready.
Intermediate and Invested Action
Learn to identify predators. Most people in the medical or educational field get specialized seminars on the warning signs of child predators and symptoms of child abuse. Many programs, such as the Catholic-based program VIRTUS, are available to any adult, not just professional mandated reporters. If you’re interested in fighting child trafficking, these courses are a great starting point. You’ll gain education and awareness of what to watch for, when to intervene, and how and when to report concerns to authorities.
Also, volunteering to supervise kids’ activities in your community is almost always an option. Local schools, churches, and day cares frequently need adult chaperones for events and parties. These chaperoning roles are much like being our neighborhood watchdogs, except we can target events and locations where supervision is typically shorthanded. Field trips, concerts, dances, and overnight camps can be more dangerous for children than normal school days. We can fight the danger of trafficking by being the extra set of hands and eyes.
Advanced and Life-Changing Action
These next options are not for everyone. In fact, they may take a special phase in life and necessary qualifications. But if your individual circumstances and capabilities allow, you may want to pursue these options.
The first option is to work or volunteer at women’s shelters or crisis pregnancy clinics. Women’s shelters and crisis clinics are a hot spot both for teenage child trafficking victims and their vulnerable babies and children.
Jobs like these are not usually well-paid since nonprofits usually operate on donations. However, it might be a good opportunity for those with good retirement income. I have met several registered nurses who, upon retirement, offer their qualified services at centers like these. They have told me that, since they have a pension income, they want to use their skills and time for a good cause. And what could be a better retirement service than this? Working with teen mothers and victims of abuse is a heavy burden to bear, but it is one of the most impactful ways to fight trafficking.
Another option is to be a foster care or respite care provider. Children in foster care are at huge risk for being trafficked and abused. Many foster children are already victims of sexual abuse, if not trafficking itself. In fact, when my parents did foster care during my teenage years, at least three of the multiple children I helped care for were already rape victims—and they were only toddlers.
Throughout the years, I have personally met and interacted with multiple biological parents, relatives, and siblings of foster kids. As biological parents vied for adoptive rights, some referenced “nightclubs” where their “dancer girls” would supposedly care for the children. I am not exaggerating. Foster children are prime targets for traffickers, many of whom are these kids’ own biological families.
Of course, I am not recommending foster parenting to everyone—it is not a safe pursuit for parents who have their own children at home, nor is it easy. Most of the time, it is heartbreaking and frustrating, and you as the foster parent cannot control whether the children return to their abusive situations. But it remains a strong avenue to fight child trafficking; indeed, it’s probably not an overstatement to say that this is the most impactful thing you can do to prevent child trafficking.
This deserves its own separate section because the single biggest factor for a child’s safety is an aware and engaged parent (especially fathers).
My husband and I are unabashed protective parents. We always know where our children are and stay with them at every event. When our children get older, we will say no to slumber parties and overnight trips, and we will monitor their internet access. We will educate them about safety awareness and predation when they reach an appropriate age.
These are not things taught in schools, in churches, or by relatives. It is taught by parents. We have the power to guard our children and arm them against child trafficking as they grow up. What better way is there to fight this battle?
Image credit: Pexels
Correction: A previous version of this article stated, “As foster parents vied for adoptive rights…”6 comments