So you've learned about human trafficking. You've realized it's a real problem, in the world and in your city, and you want to take action.
The problem is, human trafficking is such a big and intimidating issue that you might be stuck. You've convinced yourself that you can't make a difference. That your efforts are too insignificant to make even a ripple in the ocean expanse.
That's a pack of lies, friend. You are a member of this global neighborhood, and your voice and your actions matter. What we need for a free world is a band of ordinary people willing to do the next right thing. And that's where you come in.
Lacing up your boots? Here are seven ways to get started.
1. Connect on social media.
I once had someone tell me, “I can’t forget about this issue because I follow you on Facebook and you won’t let me forget.” Research and choose a few anti-trafficking organizations with strong social media content to follow. When something is in your feed about slavery and it grabs your attention, share it with your online community. Add a personal message about why you care. Use your influence to remind your people about things that matter.
2. Volunteer locally.
Research local counter-trafficking nonprofits and volunteer. Stuff envelopes, clean offices, donate your professional services. Bring their staff lunch to encourage them. Show up when they ask for help. Most charities are understaffed and underfunded. Find one you like, dig in and serve. Can’t find one locally? Lots of organizations have remote volunteer opportunities.
3. Buy fair trade.
Yes, it’ll cost more. But slavery costs too; the cost just falls on someone else. Recognize that men are enslaved on fishing boats to farm shrimp, kids are harvesting chocolate, and factory workers in China are not being paid for the stuff you’re buying on the cheap at your local discount store. It may feel small, but you really do vote with your fork. Make purchases that agree with your convictions.
4. Give money.
It’s not the action people want to hear, but it is a practical and effective way to engage in counter-trafficking work. Fund nonprofits that work toward prevention, intervention, or aftercare. Look up the organization’s financials to ensure a quality charity, and be sure that they have a sustainable model in place to effect long-term change. Then, give generously. Charities need monthly donations especially, so consider joining the fight on a consistent basis with your wallet.
5. Foster or support at-risk kids.
A majority of U.S. minors who find themselves victims of sex trafficking come from broken homes or are runaways. 1 in 6 endangered runaways are likely trafficked for sex, and approximately 68% of those sex trafficking survivors were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran away.1
The most effective prevention tool against trafficking has always been a strong, safe family. Passionate about abolition in your own backyard? Find the most at-risk kids in your community and then figure out a way to support or even foster them. Encourage those around you to be a safe place for the vulnerable, too.
6. Use your voice.
Our officials listen when we log complaints or ask targeted questions. Use the power of democracy and write a simple letter or make a quick phone call to your state senator, legislators, or other leaders. Let them know that human trafficking is an important issue to you and ask them how they are working to fight it in your state or community. Click here to look up your local representative.
7. Stop trafficking efforts in your local community.
If you suspect a trafficking situation in your own area, be sure to go online or call the national human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Seriously, stop right now and put the number in your phone. You can report a completely confidential tip and access an advocate 24/7. Interpretation is available. In immediate danger, always call 911 first.
The fight is yours
The truth is, we could write hundreds of lists of ideas, but the one idea that really matters is the one that you're passionate about. Don't wait for someone else to find the solution; create it for yourself. The best way you can impact human trafficking is the way that's personal to you.
So what makes you tick? What are you fantastic at? Use it to fight for others. When we start living like we're responsible for each other, our ordinary lives will build an extraordinary — and free — world.
1National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Download our Infographic
In this free resource, you'll get global, U.S., and regional statistics on human trafficking. You can use it to spread awareness, in research projects, or for your own education.