I have a confession: I love musical theater. I mean I really love musical theater. A lot.
Now, you may be wondering…why in the world is she blathering on about musical theater when we’re supposed to be talking about prevention education? Stick with me, it’ll all make sense, I hope promise.
The other day, as I was listening to the Broadway station (satellite radio has something for everyone), this is what I heard:
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.*
The song speaks to the impact of education – both positive and negative - in the development of tolerance, acceptance, and love. Actively, carefully teaching children these concepts can have a profound impact on their understanding of intrinsic value – their own and that of others. Without carefully teaching an understanding that all human beings, including themselves, are uniquely special and deserve to be valued and respected, students can become more vulnerable to the grooming process that traffickers utilize so skillfully to activate fear and hate in their victims.
As the new school year gets underway, The Set Me Free Project promises to carefully teach everyone we encounter. We will carefully teach safety and social-emotional skills to our elementary students. We will carefully teach about Human Trafficking and Social Media Safety to our middle and high school students. And we will carefully teach community members in every capacity – parents, educators, social service, and industries of all kinds – to prevent trafficking before it starts.
I love musical theater. A lot. But with all respect to the great Rogers and Hammerstein, I would like to propose new lyrics to this beautiful song – words that speak to the mission of our organization, that speak to the power of education, and the power of love.
You’ve got to be taught that love is the way,
You’ve got to be taught from day to day,
It’s got to be taught, so the knowledge will stay,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
*”You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” from South Pacific. Music & Lyrics by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein