What Do You Know About Modern Day Slavery in America?

Slavery is alive and well here in the U.S. In fact, there could be someone in your own community who is being exploited against his or her will.

We are certainly no experts on this topic, but this coming Saturday, May 24th, on Parenting on Purpose radio show, we will be talking to experts about human trafficking. It’s a growing issue that is affecting Americans, and we need to be wise.

Although there are many forms of human trafficking, sex trafficking is the most prevalent in our country, and this presents a big risk for our kids. Approximately 200,000 American kids are lured into sex trafficking each year. As their parents, we need to be aware of what’s happening so we can protect them.

As we gear up for this Saturday’s show, we’re going to talk about human trafficking this week. Today is a basic overview. Stop by Wednesday — we’ll talk more specifically about sex trafficking, and then on Friday, we’ll offer tips to prevent your child from becoming a victim.

Human trafficking is basically synonymous with modern day slavery.

According the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is defined as the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for labor, services or commercial sex acts by means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of exploitation, involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery or any commercial sex act involving a minor.

Human Trafficking is divided into two basic categories: labor and commercial sex. Let’s look briefly at how those things play out right here on our own soil.

Forced Labor

This is slavery in its purest form — people being forced to work against their will without pay (or adequate pay). It’s more common in the hospitality industries, manufacturing and agriculture, but it can be going on just about anywhere, right under our noses.

For example, some farmers use contracted laborers from companies who traffic the workers. The farmers don’t ask questions because they believe they need the cheap labor to stay in  business.

Chinatown in New York City is becoming a hub for trafficking in the restaurant industry. People are being shipped out to different parts of the country, forced to work long hours in buffet-style and other restaurants with little to no pay and very few days off.

The victims in these situations are often foreign, and their captors have seized their passports and use fear and intimidation to keep them in servitude.

But our kids are not immune to being forced into labor. In October 2013, right here in Florida, two men were arrested for forcing underage kids to travel in a van and sell magazine subscriptions door to door. The kids were made to work long hours without proper food or water.

The sign on the van said Teens Against Drugs and Alcohol. People buying these subscriptions probably thought they were doing good, but in actuality, they were lining the pockets of the bad guys.

Bonded Labor

Here’s how it often goes down. A trafficker lures a victim to travel to the U.S. with promises of great work and an opportunity for a prosperous life. But when they get here, the trafficker tells them they have to pay off their travel expenses (and later on, their living expenses) by working without pay. Usually the trafficker withholds their identification documents and tells them that if they try to run, they’ll be imprisoned and raped or tortured by the U.S. government.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude

This can be either standard forced labor or bonded labor, but it applies specifically to victims who are being enslaved in a household. They are often foreigners who are forced to cook, clean and care for children without pay.

Read the story of Ima Matul — a survivor of involuntary domestic servitude who now helps other survivors at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST).

Sex Trafficking

This is the biggest threat to our kids. So much so that we’re going to devote Wednesday’s post just to this topic. Sex trafficking is multi-billion dollar worldwide industry.

“Dealing girls is like dealing drugs,” says a 29 year-old trafficker. “The difference is the drug you can only sell once, but the girl you can sell a thousand times. Run away girls in America are such easy targets.”

Run aways are certainly at a high risk, but many girls (and boys) who are not runaways are lured into sex trafficking rings. Stop back on Wednesday, and we’ll tell you more about it.

And mark your calendar to tune into Saturday’s human trafficking show from 10:00 – 11:00am Eastern Time. Our guests are from Selah Freedom, here in Sarasota. They’re going to tell us more about this problem, how to recognize signs of a trafficking victim and ways to protect our kids.

Listeners in Sarsota or Manatee can tune in to 1220AM or 106.9FM or 98.9FM. Everyone else can listen live streaming on the WSRQ website. You can also get instructions on how to download a mobile app and listen on the go.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a free Human Trafficking Awareness Training. It’s short and easy to use. Check it out.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.