(This post is by guest blogger Betty Ann Boeving, the founder and executive director of Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition. Betty Ann will be a presenter at the Mount Hermon FIGHT Human Trafficking Conference, May 2-4. Go here for more information or to register.)
I’m no black belt in karate but I have taken my share of self-defense courses over the years. Today, there’s no outside indication of just how good my defensive skills are. The fact that during my basketball playing days my elbows were known to cause an opponent to need an immediate root canal is just our little secret!
The same is true of you. Even though there may be no outward indication of expertise, you are uniquely designed to FIGHT trafficking. Caring about combatting the fastest growing criminal activity in the world is all you need to be qualified to FIGHT. Each of us can have trained eyes and ears to spot human trafficking in our communities—in nearby restaurants, hotels, massage parlors, fruit vendors, and nail salons.
What do we each need to know in order to be effective in this FIGHT?
First of all, you have to know what to look for…the face of human trafficking in the Bay Area could look like a nanny at the park who has bruising or is always wearing the same clothing or never looks up to meet anyone in the eye. Do you notice a child working at a restaurant during hours he/she should be in school, or a nail salon attendant who can’t tell you exactly where she lives or how long she has worked in that salon?
These are just a few signs of trafficking. You can find more from the Polaris Project here.
To be an effective trafficking fighter in your area, you should have the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-373-7888) programmed into your phone to report any suspicious activity. Do it now. Or you can call 911 if you see something that needs immediate attention. You can do this anonymously and with no harm to you.
The hotline is also a great resource for any questions you might have about human trafficking. They can help you with your own education or with resources for papers you might be writing or for a presentation you may be giving about human trafficking to your colleagues.
Why prepare for the FIGHT? So you can be equipped with enough information and readiness to respond. Remember, it’s not about just clinching your fists in anger and silently walking away. It’s about living a life with intention; knowing what to look for and having the courage to do the right thing.