*The following post was written by a high school student who also volunteers for us.*
I went in for volunteer orientation for The Set Me Free Project, where I saw a presentation. I didn’t think that would’ve extremely changed my perspective of human trafficking. Being in high school, I’ve heard about trafficking a lot, so I wasn’t expecting my life to be changed. To my surprise, I was shocked by the things discussed in the presentation which didn’t even occur to me.
Firstly, we are taught in school that a person who is trafficked is usually kidnapped or sold by their parents for monetary purposes. I’ve never even heard of an instance where the victim knows the trafficker beforehand. I didn’t know until this presentation that human trafficking can happen, and usually happens when the trafficker gets close to the victim. A video had an example of a man, around the victim’s age, getting close to the victim and becoming her boyfriend. This happened over the span of a couple months or maybe even a year. It never occurred to me that the trafficker would spend this much time trying to establish a relationship with the victim so that they would have a bond of trust.
Second, as undereducated as it may sound, I had a generalization in my mind that trafficking includes the trafficker who is male and the victim that is female. Though this generalization might be caused by the stories of trafficking our school systems give us, it never occurred to me just how many men get trafficked by women, how many men get trafficked by men, or how many women get trafficked by women. I had this false idea that the trafficking issue only affects girls, and I didn’t even realize that men also face this problem. And what’s even worse is that the gender of the people trafficked for labor is usually young boys.
Overall, the presentation taught me a lot of truths about trafficking that hadn’t even occurred to me before, and it opened my eyes to the terrible actions that happen behind the scenes. I hope that someday children and adults around America will be educated on a serious topic like human trafficking, and I know The Set Me Project can make that happen.
~Volunteer: 11th grade