Human trafficking involves controlling a person through force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the victim for forced labor, sexual exploitation, or both. Human trafficking is also the recruitment, harboring, transportation, or provision of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of peonage or slavery.
Generating at least 15 billion dollars a year, human trafficking ranks second as the most common organized crime after the illicit drug trade. 27 million people in the world live in slavery, and the overwhelming majority are women and children. In the U.S. at least 100,000 to 300,000 youth are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation annually. The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry is 12 years old, and 80 to 90 percent of sexually exploited children have a history of sexual abuse. The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway (NISMART) children estimate that 1.6 million children run away from home each year in the U.S. Furthermore, one in three teens are recruited by a pimp within 48 hours of leaving home and becoming homeless.
Saving Innocence is an organization that helps those who are treated as less-than-human because of common assumptions of prostitution, and provides them with an escape from modern day slavery. Its vision is to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children and restore the cultural values of innocence and human worth. Their mission is to rescue and restore child victims of sex trafficking through strategic partnerships with local law enforcement, social service providers, and schools. In order to accomplish this, Saving Innocence has several ways of helping, such as providing a 24-hour emergency crisis response to survivors in Los Angeles County. Moreover, this organization trains and equips all front-line professionals on how to identify and assist victims, advocates for the change of local and nationwide policy to expand resources for survivors, increases the prosecution of traffickers, and much more. Some ways to support Saving Innocence include donating clothes, blankets, undergarments, and toiletries. One can also get involved by volunteering, throwing a fundraiser or awareness party, or becoming a financial partner in their work.
In 2016, a club in support of Saving Innocence was started in Crescenta Valley High School. The club spreads awareness throughout the school and community. “When I was first told about human trafficking, I was so shocked,” Rebecca Park, a CVHS student, said. “But I’m glad I’m aware of it, because now I can do something to help.” Currently, the club is selling merchandise such as mugs and pens.
“Human trafficking is one of the most horrifying crimes,” CVHS sophomore, Vivien Adamian, said. “I really hope that, through fundraising and spreading awareness, we can help stop it.”