More Than a "Hot Topic"

January — what a month. The start, and often the end, of New Years Resolutions, the quick ride down a wave of festivity-highs. January gives us some time to re-orient, re-prioritize, re-examine. January is also Human Trafficking Awareness month.

In an effort to be aware of the importance of awareness, here are some statistics that might peak your interest, repulsion, frustration, and/or injustice-sensors:

  •  In 2015, 4,168 cases of human trafficking in the United States were reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (as of September 30, 2015)
  • 145 survivors of trafficking were served by the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force in 2015

72% sex, 28% labor

91% female, 8% male, 1% transgender

67% US Citizen, 33% from outside USA

Of sex trafficking survivors, 64% adult, 37% minor

  • 45 Confirmed Child Survivors of Domestic Sex Trafficking in Santa Barbara County between 2012-2015

My hope is not to merely shock, repulse, anger, or depress you. It’s to show you, rather than tell you, that human trafficking is indeed a pressing issue, pressing even for Santa Barbara County. This city, in all its glorious beauty, is home to men, women, and children who daily experience exploitation through labor and sex trafficking. I don’t pretend to know what that daily life is like, but here are a few links to hear from survivors what they experienced:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeY97QtvWQs

http://hollyaustinsmith.com/video/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYhtAWPgOt8

I’ve heard human trafficking labeled as a “hot topic,” even from the pulpit. Do not be dissuaded by that type of reductive sentiment. I would venture to say that you and I likely pass by trafficked people on a weekly basis, and as “hot” as this topic may be, those exploited individuals have not yet been identified. The issues of injustice that led to their exploitation have not been addressed. Resources for their recovery have not been allocated.

I challenge us to be aware, to live aware, and to continue to muster the effort it takes to create action out of awareness, and not just for a month out of the year.

To February, and beyond!

-Kyli Larson, Exploitation Prevention Coordinator