It’s natural to want to know ways that you can make an impact for an issue after you learn about it. It’s even natural to be frustrated or angry if you think there isn’t a way that you can immediately take action on an issue — especially an issue like human trafficking, which can seem insurmountable in its scope and severity. But, I guarantee you that with nearly any social or political issue our world faces, a little bit of advocacy can go a long way. Below are some of my ideas on how to take action on the issue of human trafficking, but if you think of something not on this list, go for it! No matter what your individual talents or strengths are, you can find a way to use them to make a difference.
1. Just talk to people about it
This is the simplest, easiest, and possibly most effective way to combat trafficking. For the sake of my social life, I should really stop talking to people about human trafficking at parties, but for the issue itself, that’s been pretty effective. It’s not the most positive or comfortable discussion topic, but it’s something that needs to be talked about nonetheless. You don’t need to go up to a random stranger on the street and start warning them about the dangers of trafficking, but if there’s a lull in the conversation at some social event — or better yet, if someone else starts asking you questions about your interests or things you’re involved in — take the opportunity.
2. Educate yourself and be aware
This might even be a more important step than educating other people. Know the warning signs of trafficking and be aware of how it happens. Keep an eye on your friends and peers and the world around you, and if something strikes you as suspicious or dangerous, don’t hesitate to talk to someone, alert the authorities, or call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Check out my earlier articles on the subject of human trafficking to learn more about the issue here, here, here, and here. Knowing the national hotline number to report trafficking in your country is one of the first steps to ending this crime.
3. Start a club or chapter at your school, church, or other secular or religious institution
Earlier this year, with the help of a couple of friends, I started a club at my high school to raise awareness of human trafficking. This is essentially a more official, larger scale version of “just talking to people about it.” However, doing this in an official capacity allows you to reach a larger audience for awareness events or fundraisers, and, depending on the setting, it gives you access to some of your school’s or other institution’s facilities.
This can be hard because of a nice little thing in our society called “bureaucracy.” Although it’s the very thing that gives you the organizational backbone to be able to host events or get the word out, it can add an extra few — or dozen — people to go through for approval. You will face this wherever you choose to start a group in an official capacity, whether it’s now as a teenager or later in your adult life. You might feel like you’re not accomplishing anything for all the approvals and paperwork and structure you go through, but it’s worth it. A club, of which I am president, started at my campus this year, and we just hosted presentations on human trafficking that reached our entire sophomore class of over 400 students. After that, the approvals and paperwork didn’t seem like too much after all, and you can do the same thing with a group of friends and a bit of planning.
4. Buy Fair Trade products
Fair Trade is one of the aspects that many people who don’t know much about trafficking are still familiar with. This makes it a great gateway to introduce the issue to people, and by routinely buying Fair Trade items, you are supporting ethically sourced products. According to its website, Fair Trade products “come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated.” Essentially, the raw materials in Fair Trade products are not sourced from companies who exploit their workers either in labor trafficking or in unfair pay and work conditions. Here you can see an exhaustive list of Fair Trade’s partners, or certified brands, which includes anything from chocolate and coffee to clothing and body care. Check out this organization that scores how some of the world’s most popular brands source their products.
5. Social media
Social media might seem like a way around actually doing something about the issue, yet it still helps to get information out there. Unfortunately, the growth of the Internet and technology has helped human trafficking to grow as well — as it’s increasingly used to recruit victims or for communication between perpetrators — but traffickers aren’t the only ones who have access to social media. We do, too, and regardless of your feelings of the efficacy of social media campaigning for an issue like this, it can get the word out there or make something go viral.
These aren’t at all the extent of the ways in which you can fight human trafficking, and if you have connections to local organizations or a method you’ve discovered involving your own unique talents, then go for it!