Sex trafficking....child sex trafficking....hard to believe it exists, right? How could anyone sell anyone...and a child? It is so horrible that many don't want to admit it exists. Well, it does and in giant numbers and it is increasing.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that as many as 300,000 children are at risk for becoming victims of sex trafficking in the U.S.
Who do I blame? Of course I blame first those who are doing it. They are evil -- plain and simple. No more needs to be said about them.
But as I see the numbers grow, I get more and more disenchanted with the media, journalists and the press. Why aren't more screaming from the rooftops about it? Where is the passion, the fire in the belly for the ugly injustice in this world, the selling of another and even a child? Are the numbers so overwhelming, the cruelty so unthinkable, that journalists have grown complacent? Perhaps.
There is also the problem of money. News organizations are not flush with cash so travel budgets in recent years have been slashed and journalists don't go out and get those stories. Travel to other countries is very expensive. Most journalists these days learn what they report by logging in to their computers. That's terrible. Journalists who don't travel don't see it with their own eyes, so it is unreal and thus they don't report it. And if they do report it, they lack the passion since it is just written word -- not seen. You see these gruesome stories in person, you don't forget it. Many may have the attitude "it happens 'over there'...faraway places...and not here." But here is a fact -- it does happen here in the United States.
But it is not just journalists being complacent or sitting at computers -- the American appetite for news about human trafficking is slim. They have other big problems on their plates. If Americans want to hear about jobs (and they do) and the latest political food fights (they do) or even if some Hollywood star is getting divorced (they do), is that not what we in the news should deliver? My answer: yes and no. And here is another fact: we can do all. We can deliver the news about jobs, politics etc. AND we can bring the news about human trafficking. I can do more. I should.
We have so many media platforms available. I try to sandwich in my causes (Haiti, Sudan, refugee camps etc. and pets) between other stories that might be of greater interest to most Americans. I sandwich them in on ON THE RECORD at 7pm, GretaWire and Facebook. I don't see my job as imposing my passion on the readers or viewers -- because there is so much news out there to report -- but from time to time I slide in those stories because I know my viewers want to learn about them but in moderation. And guess what? After awhile my viewers and bloggers begin asking me for updates.
I don't blame American viewers and readers for not wanting to hear this horrible stuff about trafficking 24/7, even though there is plenty of trafficking news to fill that time -- I don't like to hear about it either and I don't like to see it. But I also know Americans have big hearts so the trick is to do some reports about it, just not none -- and for many it has been none.
Finally, what about our attention span? That's a disgrace (and I plead guilty, here, too). Last April, more than 270 school girls in Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram and we are told sold into sex slavery. Everyone was outraged -- including First Lady Michelle Obama -- and was tweeting and retweeting #BringBackOurGirls. Well...it is almost one year later and the girls are still gone and we have all forgotten them. Shame on all of us.
Bottom line. We can do better. For starters, members of the media and lawmakers should no longer use the term "child prostitute." Rights4Girls and the McCain Institute recently launched the No Such Thing campaign in an effort to end the use of this term because of the negative implications it has for victims of child sex trafficking and their legal rights. We have a long way to go in the fight against child sex trafficking, but I believe we can all make a difference if we are mindful about this issue. I want to do better and when I am asked to pen something like this, it is a reminder to me that I can do better.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Rights4Girls in conjunction with The McCain Institute. Join us in our campaign No Such Thing--that there is no such thing as child prostitute, only victims and survivors or child rape. For more information on No SuchThing, read here.