USA improvements in child sex trafficking industry


            Hello again. I am so sorry I haven’t been blogging recently. I had some technical difficulties this past week or so. However, now I am back at it talking about some real world issues!

            Previously we discussed the issue of human trafficking in the US and the implementation of new laws to reduce this occurring crime. Now I want to discuss the overall improvements in different states and how that has helped out entire nation. We talk a lot about the issue and its global impact, and specifically its impact at home in Charlotte NC, however; it’s important to also talk about how states are fighting this, because we are in fact fighting this! That’s pretty awesome.


            The main reference for this post will be an article in Huffington Post called “US States are Getting Better at Combating Child Sex Trafficking. I am attaching the link below as always, but this will be the main source of examples and information.

            A great accomplishment that starts out this article is one that I believe we need to take time to actually applaud ourselves and our country. It isn’t often that we take the time to do this, but in this case we should. In 2011 26 out of 50 states received failing grades on the country’s first assessment of the nation’s response to its youngest victims. Thus so far this year, no states have received a failing grade and at least half the nation has received a B or greater. That’s awesome!

            Now what states are doing the most to end child sex trafficking? There are 10 major ones and those will be what I discuss today. Those states are (in least to greatest in action) Florida, Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, Montana, Washington, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Of all of these I am going to talk about a few of them and their efforts in law and community action.

            Iowa and Texas are very similar in execution, however have a different effectiveness rate. Iowa has a rating of an 87.5 of 100. Their idea is that many buyers whom buy sex from children/minors remain faceless and nameless, and generally aren’t arrested. This is very common for a lot of offenders in many different areas of the US and the world. Iowa now is working to combat this by labeling anyone who seeks or solicits sex/sexual acts from minors as a class “C” felony. The punishments for this is a prison sentence up to 10 years and fines up to $10,000. Similarly, Texas, with a rating of 90.5, cracks down on child prostitution by classifying the crime as a second degree felony. If someone elicits sex from a child under 18, regardless of being aware of their age, there is a sentence from 5-99 years in prison and fines up to $100,000.

Photo by Piotr Krześlak/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Piotr Krześlak/iStock / Getty Images

            Montana is one of the highest as well with Texas, reaching a rating of 90.5. A remarkable thing about Montana is that they brought their rating up from a “D” to an “A” in a year! They also did this by increasing their punishment. “Montana doesn’t allow offenders to claim they believed the child was an adult as a defense.” In addition, the punishment is 100 years in prison, fines up to $50,000, and a sexual offender treatment program must be completed.

             Although it is sad that these laws have to become stricter in order to reduce child sex trafficking, it is important to recognize our growth and progress. So I encourage you, as always, to review the source below. It’s not much reading, but it’s important to recognize our accomplishments.

Photo by Piotr Krześlak/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Piotr Krześlak/iStock / Getty Images




Pornography and Sex Trafficking


            We are going to hit on a hot topic today and that is porn. To be honest porn is a huge industry now. Kids, teenagers, adults, couples, and more watch it/look at it. It is a $13 million dollar industry that thrives in the homes of many. What people don’t realize is the effects of viewing porn, not just on a personal level but on a much larger scale. Who really ever thinks of what they might be contributing to in the world buy watching something many feel as so harmless?

            There are three main things that I will be talking about today in why pornography plays a role in sex trafficking. One way that this is true is traffickers often times use porn as a means of psychological control.  Think about all the scandals in the news of celebrities’ nudes getting “leaked”. Those pictures are forever on the internet. You could probably search someone’s name from years and years ago and you would find their naked bodies on the internet. Now think of people who were forced into this, who didn’t want this for their lives. Often times a person’s trafficker will use them for porn then use this idea to their advantage. They threaten them and use it as blackmail. Their bodies and faces were now on the global internet, they can never escape their present no matter how much it becomes the past. This is something that many victims lock into their minds.

            Another important thing to note is the financial gain. Again this business is a $13 million business. Many girls are forced into this industry as a way to receive financial gain. They can make money by putting girls into prostitution and also porn, and the younger the girls the better and the more money received. This is a huge market where traffickers will use video footage of the girls and their pictures as way to attract buyers. This is one of many ways that the commercial sex industry is a lucrative business that continues to grow.

            Lastly, pornography is a form of sex trafficking in and of itself. It’s important to realize this. The people involved in porn have very similar if not identical experiences to those who are trafficked. Not only that, but “a recent report that held Interviews with 854 women in prostitution in nine countries…made it clear that pornography is integral to prostitution. In every country, almost half of the respondents said that they were forced to make pornography while enslaved in sex trafficking.”

            While not all women/men involved in pornography are forced and trafficked, there are far too many who are. By watching, buying, and looking at porn you can be contributing much more to a bigger problem than you think. It is a perpetual reinforcement to the commercial sex industry where a majority of sex trafficking victims reside. Think about this. That every time someone turns on the porn, flips a page, searches a name, etc they are enslaving these people more than the second before. 


Education, Awareness, Activism, and the Community

            Now we are going to wrap up the week’s series on prevention. We have discussed the importance of education and awareness. How awareness is an extension of our newly found education, and how activism is the important action of that awareness and education.  Now up to this point we have only discussed the responsibility of prevention in regards to the individual, but now we are going to make an important shift unto the community.

            Although every individual is responsible for prevention, and can make a huge impact, the community as a whole is what really finalizes and enforces the change that wants/needs to be seen.  No matter if every individual is practicing prevention, it will do nothing if these individuals aren’t unified under one cause. That being said community is a broad concept with many layers. It is defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.In this case I would like to talk about this and the roles within a community.

            Within the community they’re a few key roles. A few of these are: businesses, students, law enforcement, and health providers. These people are vital to the community and are key components of education, awareness, and activism inside a community. They are people with power who move a community forward and push for growth and involvement. On the issue of human trafficking prevention, there are a few things that each of these groups can do, in order to increase human trafficking prevention.

            Business is one of the largest and fastest growing fields. Students are constantly declaring majors in business and entrepreneurs are becoming more and more common. As businesses thrive, their influence in a community grows. One of the ways they can use this influence in their community is by providing opportunities. Some examples are, providing internships, job skills training, and making jobs available to trafficking survivors (U.S Dept. of State). In addition, community consumers are also important. Try making purchases from companies that sell items made by trafficking survivors, or goods where the profit goes towards anti-human trafficking efforts (U.S Dept. of State). Some examples would be Jewel Girls or Made by Survivors.  

            Law enforcement is also very important. Officials in the community should consider starting a local human trafficking force, or holding educational panels about human trafficking (U.S Dept. of State). If your law enforcement teams doesn’t have any programs focusing on human trafficking, maybe start a group within the community and bring this to attention. Also, attorneys are an important part of law enforcement and play a hefty role in human trafficking violations. It’s important that attorneys stay alert and look for signs of human trafficking among clients, and possibly offer legal benefits to human trafficking victims (U.S Dept. of State).

            Another important player in the community are health providers. These people are some people’s ticket to life and recovery. A couple things that they can do to help prevent or deal with human trafficking issues is by providing low-cost (or free) services to human trafficking victims assisted by anti-human trafficking organizations, as well as train your staff on the indicators of human trafficking in order to better assist victims (U.S Dept. of State).

            Lastly, and I feel most importantly are the students. Students have a unique and powerful outlet in their communities. They are capable of doing great things. Therefore, take actions on your campuses and within your communities. Join or create a club to raise awareness. Maybe write a paper focusing on human trafficking issues to help educate peers and professors. Students are the future, and it’s important to be engaged in your community now.

            Communities are important constructs of life. They are facets of society that are vital to progress and support. If everyone did something in their part of the community, in order to help prevent human trafficking, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this blog. If every person tried actively to make a difference and band together under one community, the problems that weigh down on our hearts may be relieved and resolved. I challenge you to be a part of this movement of change. To actively eliminate the struggles around us and end the pain. It stars with 1 and ends with a community. 





Impact of Activism

          The last section to my series on prevention is on activism. Too often than not people cringe at the sound of this word….activism. Images that come to mind are protests, strikes, and petitions. Although these are very important, and have their place in the world of activism, most of the activism that people do, or are engaged in, is through volunteering and donating. Let’s be honest. We are busy and overwhelmed. We all have responsibilities and obligations, and at the end of the day the things that aren’t the most important to us get swept under the rug. The problem is we do this so often and forget that it’s the little things that really matter. They’re the things that add up and make the difference. So I want to remind you of the little ways to be an activist for a moment.

            Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! It’s easy and fun. Get your family involved, your church, your girlfriends/guyfriends anyone. People make the difference. They make the impact. IF you don’t know where to start, “volunteer to do victim outreach or offer your professional services to a local anti-trafficking organization.” (U.S Dept. of State) It is a great way to get involved in an important issue. Another useful way to help out is by “organizing a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.” (U.S Dept. of State) Since most of human trafficking organizations are nonprofit it is important to have the funds to sustain themselves and continue to raise awareness and make a difference in the world. You can be a part of that change.

            On that note another great way to be an activist is to be a financial supporter. If you don’t have the time, maybe you have the money. By donating money to foundations and organizations you can help provide the funds to create volunteer opportunities and community outreach programs. Although you yourself may not be able to volunteer, donations can move mountains. They can provide needed goods to people in need, resources for future programs and education, and most importantly keep an organization alive.

            Volunteering and donating are easy steps to take in the right direction. Activism is vital in all movements for change. If you’re not the not the type of person who wants or is able to be at the protests and rallies, never forget that you’re local, or maybe national, support is the stepping stone to growth. If you are looking for an organization to volunteer or donate to All We Want is LOVE is always welcoming activists to be on our team in the fight against human trafficking. If you are interested you can donate through our page or volunteer with us to get a hands on experience. If you have any questions or desire to get involved contact us through our page!



An Extension of Education

            In my last blog we talked a lot about the importance of education. Education truly is knowledge in everything that you do. However; there is something that might be more important than that, and that is awareness. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you are not aware of your surroundings, other people, the world, and yourself, then education is useless. This is a key factor in the prevention of human trafficking simply because awareness is an extension of education. It is the action performed as a result of acquired education.

That being said, something that is a good idea to do, yet is simplistic in style, is to discover your slavery footprint. According the U.S Department of State, this is realizing what you consume and where/who it comes from. Every day we use, wear, and buy things made in factories around the world. And those factories are filled with people illegally forced into labor, or abused people from their employers. An easy way to avoid companies that use forced labor is by checking out the Department of Labor’s List of Good’s Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor (U.S Dept. of State). Although many are educated on the issues of forced labor, or poor labor conditions used in countries by many large corporations, they may not be aware of the situations around them and how they affect the outcomes. Thus, it is important to not only be aware, but make others aware. In addition, keep companies reliable. “Encourage companies, including your own, to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains and to publish the information for consumer awareness.” (U.S Dept. of State) 

            Also if your aware help others increase their awareness. “Distribute public awareness materials available from the Department of Health and Human Services, or Department of Homeland Security (U.S Dept. of State). Utilizing these resources will increase your credibility, and help prevent future trafficking incidents. In addition, get involved in your community. “Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent human trafficking documentary.” (U.S Dept. of State) This can do wonders for people’s education and awareness, as well as expand your knowledge.

Check out this facebook page to see what partents are doing about human trafficking needing to be taught in schools.

Check out this facebook page to see what partents are doing about human trafficking needing to be taught in schools.

            Lastly, something that is important to consider are future generations. Human trafficking is a rising problem and they need to be aware of this global crime. Especially when children are affected in such high numbers. A great way to help bring kids an education and an awareness of this is by talking with their school board. “See if you can get the ideas of modern day slavery in their curriculum.” (U.S Dept. of State) Slavery is a huge topic in schools ranging from elementary school following through college, yet modern day slavery is often left out. By helping school systems realize the human trafficking target set on their schools, they may see the importance in educating their students about it.


            All in all, the reason why this is important is because one person can’t change the world. They can only start the change. There has never been one person who started and sustained a global movement or change by themselves. People are worthless without people. We can’t change the way our society thinks or acts with one person doing this alone. It’s vital to the movement to share your knowledge and awareness with others, so they too can pass it on. Because like it or not, you are now a part of a global movement.





Knowledge is POWER!


          Human trafficking is global. We have talked stats, numbers, and reality. It’s an overwhelming problem in the United States and in the world. That’s a lot to take one. So how can I, you, and everyone else possibly make a difference? It’s really easy to feel consumed by the daunting reality of tragic global dilemmas. Things like drugs, abuse, rape, slavery, and so on, aren’t easy to solve and they are very gray issues, especially in the political world.

            One of the most important ways to prevent/reduce human trafficking is through education. This sometimes seems a little bland to us. It’s missing the flavor of action of busting down doors, partaking in an arrest, and impersonating a pimp in order to rescue people. However, I would say that this is one of the most vital and valuable parts of prevention. Educate yourself on the signs of human trafficking. Look for the signs of runaway children and bring them to help before they can be targeted. Be aware of people at gas stations, airports, hotels, and other crowded areas for transportation; these are the places where humans are often exchanged.

 In addition there are some common red flags to be aware of. A few examples are people living with their employer, living in poor living conditions, incapability of speaking with someone one-on-one, showing signs of abuse, is unpaid or paid very little, and is 18 and involved in prostitution (U.S Dept. of State).  Familiarize yourself with these and use these as tools to help prevent human trafficking, or help someone in a trafficking situation.

However, that being said it is important to know that you aren’t a professional. There are people who are trained to handle these types of situations. Police officers, law enforcers, federal government employees, and psychologists are thoroughly educated on how to handle these delicate and dangerous circumstances (U.S Dept. of State). Therefore, it is important to be the hero in a different way than many of us want to be. It is imperative that when you see something you think may be human trafficking, that you report it immediately. If it wasn’t for the bystander, the professionals wouldn’t be able to do much.

That being said. There are a few resources that are important to make a change. One of the easiest/most convenient resources is by calling the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at        1-888-373-7888 (U.S Dept. of State). This is a resource is available 24/7 where you are able to speak to a service provider in your area about a potential human trafficking case (U.S Dept. of State). Also, you can call this number and speak to a technical assistant for more information. In addition, you can call the Department of Homeland Security at 1-866-347-2423 (24/7), or submit a tip online at Plus even immigrants are eligible for government help.

The list can go on and on, and I actually will continue on this for my next blog. Education is power, and this is only one facet of that power. That is the entirety of these blogs, it’s to educate. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know much or was misled in your information, embrace this as a learning opportunity to become a super hero, because by being educated you can help so many people.





Why Victim Blame

          When talking about human trafficking unfortunately there is a victim and there is a perpetrator. Human trafficking is a crime; therefore, it is dealt with in a criminal manner where ideally a victim should see some punishment towards their perpetrator. However, there is one big problem in this and that is the idea of victim blaming.

            Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm that befell them. The study of victimology seeks to mitigate the perception of victims as responsible. As a result the wrongdoers, the criminals, the offenders, are often seen as being part of something that was inevitable. As if being sold, bought, used, enslaved, raped, abused, and more is a self-fulled prophecy.

            This is often seen in cases of sex trafficking. As I have discussed in prior blogs, many prostitutes are found as runaway children. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 or 13 for girls and boys. This is not something that people chose for themselves; however, there is a strong stigma attached with prostitution that allows people to victim blame. When you watch movies, read the news, read a book, prostitutes are portrayed as grown women choosing a life of a sex worker in order to earn money.

Although this may be the case for a few people, many are approached, forced, or coerced into it (trafficked). Once someone is forced into this sex slavery, many are forced into drug addictions. Many are forced to take drugs or drink alcohol, to have sex or to perform sexual acts without consent as well (DARA).  “Drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are commonly used to make a person become an addict and force them to do the work the traffickers want them to do” (DARA).  If a person if forced into prostitution and drug abuse, many need to stay involved in prostitution as a way to sustain their newly created drug dependency.

 As you can see these men, women, and children are not willing choosing this life. However, the courts and juries continue to place the blame on the victim. Why is this the case?

Well according to Dr. Juliana Breines, victim blaming can occur in array of misfortunes such as; bullying, rape, sexual assault, hazing, poverty, and cases of mental/physical illness. Her theory is that the reason victim blaming occurs is due to vulnerability. She claims that “Victims threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. When bad things happen to good people, it implies that no one is safe, that no matter how good we are, we too could be vulnerable.” I think that this holds a lot of truth in it.

She further comments on the theory of Dr. Melvin Lener. He points out “that these victim blaming tendencies are rooted in the belief in a just world, a world where actions have predictable consequences and people can control what happens to them.” He syas that people want to believe that justice will come to wrongdoers and good people will be rewarded for doing the right things in life.

I think that many of us can agree that this is flawed thinking, but it’s also common thinking. Victims are very often blamed for the misfortunes that happen to them and this not only hurts them, but our whole societal thinking. What kind of world do we live in where the person who is put through unspeakable pain is to be at fault to what was inflicted upon them?

My Resources:


The Aftermath

         According to the United States Attorney’s Office “Human trafficking deprives people of their human rights and freedoms”. There are many aspects of human trafficking that severely affect people of all ages, sexes, races, and genders. The experiences that victims undergo have a detrimental physical and psychological effects. The people of Stop Violence against Women states that “the act of trafficking and the attendant human rights violation can have very serious consequences for the victim.”  

            In regards to physical consequences, “trafficking victims often suffer from serious physical abuse and physical exhaustion, as well as starvation.”  (SVAW) This is true for a variation of trafficking. Whether it be for labor or sex, victims show signs of physical trauma. Some examples of this would be concussions, burns, bruises, scars, and weight loss (SVAW). In cases of sex trafficking women are often times accidently impregnated and later forced to have abortions since contraception is not provided or used (SVAW). In addition, many women/girls contract sexually transmitted infections (most commonly HIV/AIDS) and if left un-treated result in permeant infertility (SVAW).

            As for psychological trauma, this is most common in cases of sex trafficking. In cases such as these, women, children, and men are not only exposed to physical abuse, but also sexual abuse. This treatment often leads to psychological problems. Often times victims use survival mechanisms such as denial as a way to cope during mistreatment, but later the repercussions are more severe. “This type of physical and sexual abuse leads to severe mental and emotional health consequences.” (SVAW) This includes mind/body separation, shame, grief, fear, distrust, self-hatred, and suicide/suicidal thoughts (Health Crime). In addition, these issues can also lead to drug/alcohol addictions and eating disorders (SVAW). In very severe cases there is also a risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which includes anxiety, depression, insomnia, self –loathing, and hyper-alertness (Health Crime)

            As you can see not only the experience of the victim important, but so is the aftermath. In my next blog I will be discussing how governments and societies deal with these issues, and what is done to help these victims post trafficking. It is important to not only discuss the issue of human trafficking at hand, but also the issue of helping those who experience it cope afterwards.


(PLEASE read if you have the chance)


        Today I am going to talk about something a little different than usual. Generally I pick a topic about human trafficking and discuss the issues behind it and some common misconceptions. This time I will actually be talking about something that directly involves All We Want is LOVE and that is #SoleMates.

            #SoleMates is an after school program that is dedicated to “Connecting the Mind, The Heart, and The SOLE through a leadership/volunteer program for elementary school children at risk for human trafficking and bullying.” The point of the program is to give kids a foot in the right direction. The founders of #SoleMates are Ashley Harkrader and Co-Founder Loryn Wurst (Owner of FitGirl Charlotte). How it works is they work with a school in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system (CMS) to give kids a better start and to limit their chances of being trafficked. The program is on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-4:15pm starting October 27th through December 3rd. Each day the volunteers will teach kids, through hands on activities, about important life issues such as; leadership, teamwork, respect, listening, sexual assault, anger issues, self-esteem, body image, male/female unity, and current events. By completing the program each child will receive a band new pair of shoes.

            This program is volunteer oriented and will not only change the lives of the volunteers but also the lives of the children. The reason this is so important is because North Carolina is in the top 10 states with the highest rates of human trafficking. And what’s even more is that Charlotte, North Carolina is number 6 in the nation where about 300,000 children are at risk of being sold and trafficked. Plus there are roughly 2,500-3,000 kids who are targeted in our own community of CMS. So All We Want is LOVE decided to do something about these numbers and give back to the community.

            What’s most important is the way that #SoleMates fights trafficking. No, no one is busting down doors and saving kids locked up from the world. This program fights human trafficking as a prevention mechanism and in an empowering way. Many times child victims have also been severely bullied. Bullying leads to low self-esteem and self-worth, and makes many children feel invisible or unwanted. When kids feel unworthy it leads to a need to escape. Many children who are bullied are more likely to run away and this puts them in a more vulnerable state than they could ever foresee.

            When a child runs away they are more vulnerable to human trafficking. With nowhere to go and no way to eat, children turn to people for affirmation and support. 1 of 3 runaway children are approached by a trafficker within 48 hours. The likelihood that a child on the streets with be a victim of human trafficking is a little less than half. As I said before there are 2,500-3,000 kids who are vulnerable to human trafficking in Mecklenburg County alone. Imagine how many of them will be trafficked if we don’t do anything.

            This is why #SoleMates is so vital. The program gives children emotional and mental strength. It gives them the power over their situations and the knowledge to combat the reality of bullying. If we can give children the confidence in themselves through education and positive role models, then we can reduce the reality and possibility of them being sold and traded in the human trafficking market for labor and sex.

*****If you would like to sign up as a volunteer or make any donations for the program please contact us through our page!*****

You just should Run Away

        When we talk about things like human trafficking it’s easy to say “why don’t they just run away”. In many ways this seems like an easy solution to the problem. If you are in a bad situation or your life is at risk, the simplest conclusion that’s easy to make, is run away. Most everyone has seen Taken, or Silence of the Lambs, maybe some episodes of criminal minds or Law and Order: SVU, in these cases people always are escaping or being rescued in the nick of time. So why don’t people do it in real life?

            When someone is trafficked, one of the problems is they usually know their trafficker. Sometimes it will be someone they are just familiar with and other times it’s someone who they really trust if not care for. As easy as it is to say that they should just leave, it’s really not that simply. Once someone realizes the situation they are in its difficult to come to terms with what is happening.

            Sophie Hayes shared her story about being trafficked. She explains that she had been dating this guy for years. They talked every day and when he invited her to Italy to visit, she never expected what happened. He forced her into prostitution. The man that she loved and trusted just deceived her. She found out that he was a criminal, a trafficker or guns, drugs, and women, and as he informed her on what he expected her to do she froze.

            Not only does she discuss what happened to her, she explains why she didn’t run, why she couldn’t run. Sophie explained that he threatened her. He told her that he had people everywhere and that if she disobeyed she was a dead woman. He tormented her by taking her to a lake saying that this is where her dead body would be if she acted out. But she wouldn’t be the only one to suffer, her family and friends would also. And in this she knew there was truth. Although she was not physically chained, she was mentally and emotionally chained. She began to fear everyone and trust no one. She couldn’t even go to police of the government because many of the men who paid for her sex were cops, military men, judges, and doctors.

            Many people who are trafficked experience similar control. She says “To the outside world this is a difficult concept to understand, but with extreme fear comes complete debilitation. Fear of the mind is often the hardest thing to rationalize with.” And according to Austin Texas Gov. “in addition to the physical violence and threats of violence against themselves, victims also face the threat of having their family members harmed or murdered by the traffickers if they try to run away or tell anyone about their situation. This creates extreme fear and psychological bondage that keeps them enslaved.”

            As you can see escaping isn’t simple. Most victims face extreme psychological barriers, brutal abuse, manipulation, brainwashing, and distrust of the law. Escaping does not only risk their life, but the lives of their loved ones and not to mention further retaliation from their trafficker. Although running away seems to be a simple solution, in reality it is nearly impossible, and when actually successful it is very dangerous and comes with many repercussions.

I highly encourage you to at least read the blog written by Sophie Hayes (a pseudonym) if nothing else. She shares a powerful story that sheds light on the reality of human trafficking. In addition to her story, I also have two other sources. They are brief but very useful and I recommend you to read over them as well if you can find the time!