“It’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass
As a community, as a county we have had a rough time lately. It has affected all of us at least indirectly. Schools have policies about bullying (anti-bullying) to be exact. All of this is in an effort to create strong-kids and create a safe atmosphere. Educators and parents know that kids can’t learn if they do not feel safe, physically or emotionally.
Often children and youth come to some with many risk factors (hunger, abuse, gang violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, homelessness, etc.). There are so many things that will get in the way of learning that we do not need to add bullying to this list.
Let’s be honest, bullying is not new, and many people have been bullied and no one was there to help them. Since this was recognized and many people realized that victims of bullying were more at risk for suicide, gun violence, and much more. If you are emotionally beaten down each day at home and at school and feel invisible because there is no one to help you than it is not hard to see why many kids feel like they have no choice left (i.e. gangs, violence, suicide, the trafficker, etc.).
We don’t see using harsh words to be a problem. Its no big deal, ‘I didn’t mean it anyways.’ In regard to the risk factors for youth and trafficking how could this relate? I have been thinking about this recently, it is something that has personally impacted me in a large way.
We live in a highly sexualized culture, so this concept of ‘bullying’ doesn’t stop on the playground but continues through our cities. We live in this sexualized culture often faced with harassment on a frequent basis we, as women and girls, are often treated little better than something offered for sale in the market. Men call out what they demand, want and often make offers for vulgar acts. As women we simply try to walk home, to a friends house or make it through the day without becoming another statistic that society will ignore or worse yet blame us for.
Let’s just admit that it is not acceptable for some guy to walk up and make these types of comments. Our society wonders why we have such a problem with exploitation and human trafficking? Yet last year the top songs glorified prostition and stripping and those who were buyers of women working there. If there were no demand, there would be no supply. Simply put, each time some guy makes these types of degrading comments to a teen or young woman walking down the street. She realizes no one cares about her brain only about her body.
Why does the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Human Trafficking happen? We have let it happen as a society. We have allowed a culture of porn, sexualization and the larger sex industry. We have said its no big deal when comments are made to women and girls on the street or on public transportation. We must do better and you can do something to stop this. One thing you can do is to intervene if you see or hear something happening. Also, be a person of integrity, love and protection in your neighborhood and community. I believe that Human Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children can be ended. If a person knows that she is loved, valued and part of community they often (but not always) will not fall prey to a trafficker. We need change, we need to work together and I believe love and community is needed.