By Reece Westfall | Web Managing Editor
Read below for a Q&A with Social Justice Club’s president, Hope Miller.
Q: How did the club get started?
M: International Justice Mission is an actual Social Justice organization that strives to rescue those from human trafficking. Former History teacher, Mr. Cupp, was very passionate about IJM and decided that we needed an anti-trafficking club at our school, thus, IJM was born!
Q: How prominent is human trafficking in America and even in Indiana?
M: There are 14,500 – 17,500 people in America who are victims of trafficking. A high percentage of the victims come from big states like California and Texas; however, it happens everywhere.
Q: What is the mission and goal of your club and how do you work to reach that mission?
M: IJM’s mission is to raise awareness about human trafficking and plug students into organizations that are actively fighting against the evil of human trafficking.
Q: Have you or someone close to you been affected by human trafficking?
M: I, personally, have never known anyone who has been affected by human trafficking, but I know that it is happening right under our noses, even in our own county, and believe that we need to use our voices to show the world that these people are worth more than their labor or sexual performance. They have a heart, a brain, passions, likes and dislikes, and they deserve, like every other human being, to be treated with the utmost honor, respect, and love.
Q: What are the club’s plans for this year?
M: We are super excited about what we will be doing this year! We plan to have monthly meetings in which we will bring in speakers from local organizations, watch a few films, do a couple service projects, and inform students about special events in the community. We will also be doing a few movements to raise awareness like Shine A Light on Slavery Day (February 23rd) in which people draw a red X on their fist and post it o social media with the hashtag #EndItMovement.
Q: Why do you think people aren’t as aware of the human trafficking problem?
M: Americans tend to think that human trafficking only happens in third world countries. However, human trafficking (aka. modern day slavery) is the second largest crime in the US right below drug trafficking. It involves the use of fraud, force, or coercion to obtain a labor or a commercial sex act and can happen to any race, any age, and any gender. It happens everywhere, typically in very isolated places like truck stops or largely populated areas like the Super Bowl (which happens to be the largest human trafficking sting in the United States). It also comes many different forms-anywhere from a pimp forcing a woman into prostitution, to a photographer pushing a porn star to perform obscene acts, to a business owner threatening a minor to work under bad working conditions for little or no pay. Because it is so widespread, it can be hard to identify but some warning signs that someone may be a victim of human trafficking are:
– They have a “boyfriend” who is significantly older than them
– They are unaware of where they are or where they are going
– They may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol as a way to numb the pain
– They may have depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or anorexia.
Q: Why should people get involved with this club?
M: The students of Avon High School should get involved with this club if they want to learn more about the human trafficking epidemic, serve organizations that are actively fighting against it, and ultimately use their voice to speak up for those who are voiceless.