Kelly Smith is a summer intern in the Arlington office at Shared Hope. Kelly has been working on legislative issues regarding child sex trafficking victims. Kelly is a student at Pepperdine University where she is involved with human trafficking awareness programming.
After today, I have realized that dreams have no bounds.
This summer has been a dream in itself. Embarking on Capitol Hill, visiting EVERY Congressman and Senator’s office, fighting to end sex trafficking—everything came crashing together, full speed on Wednesday, when Shared Hope International (SHI) reached out to the Capitol with important reading materials in preparation for the Congressional Human Trafficking Briefing to be held on July 21, 2009.
Although I knew that my summer internship with Shared Hope would bring some unexpected surprises, I never anticipated that I would be roaming the halls of Congress to raise awareness about child sex trafficking. In one day, we marched through the halls of both the Senate and House buildings, providing over 500 Congressmen and Senators with a copy of our National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.
Walking into every office, we conversed with each Congressman’s staffers to voice the importance of a little-known message: U.S. children are being sold into sexual slavery in America. Indeed, after handing them our report, a common response was “I’ll hand this to our Legislative Assistant for International Relations.” However, human trafficking is not just an international issue. Some of us refuse to believe it, but human trafficking is also a national issue. America’s kids are being trafficked right here, in our own cities.
Because the issue of trafficking is SO huge and broad, the focus has been unclear. But one message needs to be understood: any child exploited through prostitution is a victim.
SHI is encouraging our nation’s leaders to take action and address these concerns within our own neighborhoods. Sex trafficking continues to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. The truth is that the United States plays a role in this criminal industry—the US has become a large import and export destination for traffickers. It is occurring everywhere and can affect anyone. This problem must be addressed. It can no longer be ignored.
There must be sense of urgency. Encourage your local legislators, Senators and Congressmen to examine the issue of sex trafficking in your state by writing them a letter, or placing a phone call. Add your voice to the many others across America who are speaking out and making a difference.
Many people dream of changing the world. As ambitious as it seems, it is achievable. A mere ten years ago, we refused to believe that slavery still existed. But today, almost everyone is aware that human trafficking is happening all over the world. Together, we can work to raise awareness of sex trafficking and fight for its eradication.
Let us practice what we preach. Let us unite and stop sex trafficking in our own country, so we can set an example for others. We must start within our nation’s borders before we can work beyond. One small step at a time increases the potential for success—every step counts. Why dream it when you can achieve it? Everything begins with you. Educate yourself. Encourage others. Address the concerns in your neighborhood and take action.