by Amanda Kloer
The idea for this post came from my awesome cousin Erin who is a Sophomore in high school. She wanted to know what teens like her can do about human trafficking.
If you think you can’t change the world while you’re in junior high or high school, think again. Teens have a lot of power (yes, you have power!) to free slaves and make the world a better place. You don’t have to lie back and accept the all problems your parents’ generation left you with. Here are 10 things you can do to help end human trafficking.
- Update your status. When it comes to human trafficking, making people aware slavery still exists is half that battle. Whether you use Facebook, MySpace, BlackPlanet, Twitter, or something else, make a commitment to post an item or set your status to mention human trafficking once a week. You can link to an article or blog post, or simply make a “Did you know….” statement about human trafficking, like “Did you know there are more slaves today than when slavery was legal in the 1830s?” By telling your friends, you help educate people about this important issue.
- Throw a viewing party. Invite your friends over to watch a movie about human trafficking and the talk about it. A film, either a documentary or fictional story, is a great way to introduce people to the issue and get them talking. Not ready to come out as an abolitionist at school? Start with your family. For some suggested short films, check out this list.
- Loosen chains with loose change. That change jingling around in your pocket can save lives, especially when it’s put together with a lot of other change. The International Justice Mission has a great project called Loose Change to Loosen Chains, which is a fundraiser to help slavery survivors created for schools. You can get their kit here. It’s an easy and fun project and can really make a difference in the lives of trafficking victims.
- Know that pimps aren’t cool. I don’t think you can be a teen today and not have heard the word “pimp” dozens of times on the radio — an it’s usually used to mean “improve.” Sure 50 Cent and Three Six Mafia claim to be pimps, but real pimps are criminals. They abuse and exploit women and girls. They steal money they don’t deserve. They are human traffickers. Who wants to be like that?
- Buy fair trade. When we buy only dirt cheap goods and services, traffickers enslave workers and children to make producing those products cheaper. Slaves pick our fruit, make our clothing, clean our hotel rooms, serve our food and do a number of other tasks without our knowing. By buying Fair Trade Certified goods, you support companies and products which ensure a living wage for the producers and humane working conditions. Learn more about what buying fair trade means.
- Support education and opportunities for girls. Girls, especially teen girls, make up the majority human trafficking victims because in many countries (including the U.S.) they lack the same educational and economic opportunities given to men. There are a number of international microeconomic development programs which give opportunities to girls, as well as U.S.-based organizations like the Girl Scouts which can help low-income girls afford college. Giving other girls education means they can make their own choices.
- Think globally, act locally. Involve your community, like your school, club, sports team or place of worship in the abolitionist movement. It’s a built-in network to spread the word about your passion for abolition and a great place to get your feet wet as an anti-trafficking activist. You might be surprised at what resources are available to you in your immediate community.
- Express the importance of freedom through art, music, or performance. A student with a love of theater and a passion for abolition once noticed that there were a number of talented actors at her school. So she wrote a short play based on real narratives of former slaves and cast her fellow students in the play. By charging a small admission fee to the show and selling products from Ten Thousand Villages, she was able to raise awareness in her community and over $1000 for a local anti-slavery NGO in a single night.
- If you see something fishy, say something. Is your friend in a relationship with someone who treats them badly? Is one of your classmates always absent? Does the girl who lives across the street seem like she can’t leave the house without permission? Be alert to signs in your community that someone is being held, forced to work, or abused. It’s never a good idea to intervene yourself; traffickers are dangerous criminals. But do tell someone at your school, call the police, or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-800-3737-888.
- Take action at Change.org. Here at Change.org, we have a lot you can do. Write a letter to a company asking them to stop using slave labor in making a product you like. Take a pledge to make better choices or host a fundraiser. If you don’t see an action you like, start one of your own. Check out the end human trafficking actions here.
So now you know 10 things to do to end human trafficking. And if I missed something, let me know. Or better yet, create your own project and tell me about it. The 27 million slaves all over the world are waiting for you to act. What are you waiting for?
Photo credit: frotzed2