When most people in the United States hear the words “human trafficking”, they often think of it happening in places like Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, or Africa. The truth is that the United States is considered to be a top destination for human trafficking victims, with the crime having been reported in all 50 U.S. states. U.S. citizens as well as foreign nationals are subjected to exploitation in an array of industries—on farms, factories and construction sites, and in homes as domestic servants. Many are forced to work as prostitutes or in pornography. When the U.S. Fund for UNICEF launched the End Trafficking project in January of 2012, we knew that we couldn’t talk about the issue globally without addressing it in our own country.
The goals of the End Trafficking project are to raise awareness about child trafficking – both domestically and abroad – and rally communities to take meaningful action to protect children. Through the creation of resources, public awareness campaigns, online and in-person training, and advocacy, we are working throughout the U.S. to engage the public in helping end trafficking.
To date, we have directly engaged nearly 20,000 people through in-person and online training on the issue of child trafficking. One of the main tools we use to educate audiences is the film Not My Life. Filmed on 5 continents over a period of 4 years, the film brings statistics to life by telling the stories of real people, including survivors and international advocates. Our outreach to the public is the most rewarding part of my job. It’s amazing to watch as people become shocked and angered when learning about the scope of the problem, yet see them leave feeling empowered to be able to go back to their communities and take action.
Here are three things you can do today:
- Post the National Human Trafficking Hotline (Call 1-888-3737-888 or Text “BeFree” 233733), around your neighborhood, school, or work place.
- Host a screening of Not My Life or another film focused on the issue of human trafficking. Facilitate a discussion after about ways to take action. E-mail email@example.com to learn how you can get a copy of Not My Life along with a discussion guide.
- Switch to Fair Trade products, which are produced without slave or child labor. Profits from Fair Trade products support workers involved in production and ensure that they are paid fairly and work under safe conditions.
If you are interested in getting involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.unicefusa.org/endtrafficking. We look forward to working with you towards the day when every child is protected from violence, exploitation, and abuse.
Emily Pasnak-Lapchick is the End Trafficking Officer at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF where she leads a national awareness and advocacy campaign about child trafficking. She manages the creation of resources, in-person and online training, development of partnerships, and the creation of public awareness campaigns.