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Largest human trafficking bust in US history should inspire you to spread awareness

By Regina Pergola
On March 16, 2017

Personally, whenever I plan to go significant distances away from home by myself or with friends, I am always given the same warning: “Be careful.” But, my mom made sure that I was exposed to statistics and reports of incidents such as assault and human trafficking. This was a way for her to prepare me for the outside world.

When I moved away to go to college, I gained this information in different ways, from my mom sending me articles and police reports to my friends talking about prevention tactics in everyday conversation. This escalated until I did my own research and discovered countless instances that supported what I had already been told.

One specific example that I want to use is human trafficking. I would like to share what I have found out. However, I don’t want to just spew facts out without reason. Understand that this is a combination of statistics and facts which serve as a call to action. Don’t let this information go to waste, but rather spread the news that this is a serious problem and there are numerous ways to prevent it locally, statewide or nationally.

The realization of slavery as a modern-day action is essential to understand the importance of human trafficking. Slavery is not an action of the past. Instead, it is rampaging throughout the world and specifically within America. 

Human trafficking, which is the purposeful exploitation of persons in either a sexual or working sense, is a serious issue around the world. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked per year in the United States alone. These are mostly women and children. This is also a localized issue with 104 reported cases of human trafficking in Louisiana in 2016. According to federal statistics, all trafficking victims are used in a form of slavery, 80% of which are abused in a sexual nature. Other victims are used for slave labor. California has one of the highest human trafficking rates in the nation, with 1,323 human trafficking cases reported in 2016. Other states and cities have staggering statistics.

I personally feel as though most people are not aware of improvements in trafficking busts. Since Inauguration Day, the amount of arrested traffickers is over twice as many arrested traffickers in 2014. 

On Jan. 29, 474 arrests were made, 27 adults and 28 sexually abused children were rescued. The operation spanned over 30 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles, California. This is the largest human trafficking bust in the history of the United States. I question why this information has not spread farther and faster than it has. 

Now, the issue has been addressed and readdressed by different organizations. Some of these organizations are federal, some are statewide and some are localized to cities. There are countless protection courses available nationwide. Even at the university, we have a University Police Department sponsored Rape Aggression Defense classes. The next class will be held Mar. 25-26 and is free to students and faculty, but is also open to guests for a fee.

This is a great opportunity to educate oneself or one’s friends on defense against assault. But is this enough? I say that it is not. More people need to become involved and help prevent this issue. Help support these RAD classes, or even just share the information. Explore the abundance of research, and bring it to light. More lives might be saved if more people were passionately involved in extinguishing the horrors of human trafficking from within this country, this state and this campus.

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