Sex trafficking in King County | Letter

We can do something about this.

A lot of us have heard about the trafficking problems in countries like Haiti, Pakistan and India, but what if I told you America has an estimate of 4.5 million victims and more than 300,000 are under the age of 18?

Police estimate up to 500 teens, some as young as 12 years old, are working as sex slaves every day in King County. We need to take a second to acknowledge the severity of this situation. Seattle is the third most active city for child prostitution in the whole nation. Seattle is a city that’s right down the street, only a 25-minute drive away! Out of America’s immense total of 19,354 cities and towns across the map, Seattle is No. 3! Members of our own community are being swept away into alternate worlds full of manipulation, rape and abuse right before our eyes. We can do something about this.

We can help lower the statistics. Slowing down the rate of new trafficking victims needs to be prioritized. We need to follow every safety precaution necessary to prevent new children from being victimized.

Getting involved is as simple as recognizing the problem and educating yourself and your loved ones on actions you can take to avoid ending up in dangerous situations. If we all did as much as just looking over a list of preventive measures, we would be more conscious of what’s happening.

Together, let’s make this industry one that’s commonly talked about and one we’re well prepared to put an end to. The more we openly talk about human trafficking, the more knowledgeable our youth will become. One by one, we can put a dent in the number of future victims in our community. We all need to work together to spread awareness in our homes, schools and public places. We can do something about this. There are support groups we can go to for more ideas on how we can get involved. Some online groups are Entrust.org.au, www.traffickingresourcecenter.org, and unboundseattle.org.

If you’re ever in a situation where you feel like something is “off” or notice any suspicious behavior, call a trafficking hotline. Just this year, the National Trafficking Hotline has received more than 17,000 calls and has opened more than 4,000 cases regarding trafficking incidents. Any new information reported helps put together pieces and find new leads to help break down trafficking rings. We can do something about this.

Criminals wandering around on our streets are traumatizing the lives of innocent children in our community. America’s 300,000 victims under the age of 18 isn’t something you just watch or read about; there isn’t always a happy ending to the story. It’s a real life problem and you never know who could be next. We can do something about this.

Elizabeth Urick,

Bothell

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