For the past several years, more awareness has been brought to human trafficking at the Super Bowl, and for good reason. The annual event not only floods host cities with tens of thousands of fans, but a large influx of violence and organized criminal activity as well. In 2010, 10,000 prostitutes were brought into Miami for the Super Bowl, and in 2011, 133 minors were arrested for prostitution during the Super Bowl in Dallas. According to the anti-trafficking organization Polaris Project, hundreds of thousands of citizen minors are estimated to be at risk for commercial sexual exploitation in the America, and large, crowded events like the Super Bowl can be an easy place to carry out that crime with little fear of getting caught.
Though it might seem like a social issue too large to solve, there’s a lot you can do to stop human trafficking. All of following suggestions are relatively easy, simple ways to help bring awareness and justice to the oppressed, both at the Super Bowl and beyond.
If you live close to where the Super Bowl is being played, go to the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking Website. They have several ways to get involved, including a “Help Us Locate Missing Children” blitz—they need help distributing 5,000 Missing Children Booklets around the city before Sunday’s game. The Huffington Post also released a helpful list (courtesy of End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) of behaviors, key words, and interactions to be on the lookout for if you work, live close to or plan to attend the Super Bowl. Keeping your eyes and ears open may just save a life.
But, what if you don’t live near where the Super Bowl is being played? Or, you’re reading this after the big game is over? Well, human trafficking doesn’t just happen once a year. There are plenty of other ways to help end and prevent trafficking.
If you’re a college or high school student, you can start a UNICEF club at your school. These clubs engage with their local communities by holding a variety of events which raise awareness and funds to help fight trafficking.
If you’re an educator or parent, incorporate justice issues into your classroom or home. UNICEF also has an incredible amount of grade-level appropriate material to help you teach young people about trafficking and to encourage them to take their own steps in addressing the issue. Find out more here.
If you’re a movie buff, host a viewing party. Not My Life is a powerful documentary that can serve to raise awareness and bring people to action. Visit notmylife.org to find out how to host a viewing party in your community.
If you own or work for a business, hang a poster. The Department of Homeland Security has several posters you can download, print and hang courtesy of their Blue Campaign—a resource for materials and information on human trafficking.
If you want to change legislation, be an advocate. There are several bills currently floating around Congress that would help make strides toward alleviating trafficking. Bipartisan House and Senate versions of the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act (H.R. 1732 and S. 1823) would help improve state child welfare systems in order to better protect children. You can urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor this legislation by adding your name to the UNICEF sponsored message.
Another bill, H.R. 3344, the Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination Act of 2013, would help stop recruiters from exploiting overseas workers. These recruiters lure immigrants with jobs that don’t exist or that are drastically different than what they advertise, then lock them into abusive contracts. You can learn more about H.R. 3344 here.
If you’ve got some spare time, volunteer. This may be one of the most important things we can do, because it helps prevent trafficking before it starts. According to Polaris Project, traffickers often prey on those who lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life or have a history of sexual abuse. Consider getting involved in programs like The Boys and Girls Club, organizations that reach out to children in crisis and provide them with a safe place to learn and grow. Or, help out at a local food bank, homeless shelter or school to get to know and support families in crisis in your community.
If you’ve got some spare change, give: There are so many organizations to give to in support of ending human trafficking. Not For Sale, Polaris Project, The A21 Campaign, End Slavery Now, and Stop The Traffik are all organizations dedicated to ending trafficking. If you want to stay local, research and find organizations in your city. If you’re hesitant to give without knowing more about where your money is going, use Charity Navigator to research before you donate.
If you think someone is involved in trafficking, report it. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is has national, toll-free hotline (1-888-373-7888) available to answer calls and texts from anywhere in country, 24/7.
If you’re not sure why this is a big deal, keep learning. Human trafficking takes on many forms, not just the sex trafficking that is notorious at the Super Bowl. Visit www.slaveryfootprint.org and find out how many exploited people work for you (that’s right, work for you). Knowing the connection between your purchases and forced labor is often the wake-up call needed to change habits and make a difference.
It may seem like we can’t change anything when it comes to major issues like trafficking, but that’s just not true. If everyone did one thing in an effort to stop injustices like trafficking, imagine the difference we could make.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia (originally posted by section125, Flickr)