Teen Librarian Toolbox
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Human Trafficking: YOU can get involved and help! (guest post by Kim Purcell)

Kim Purcell is the author of Trafficked, a novel about human trafficking.  She also wrote THE MOST VIEWED post on this blog: Fear in Writing, Fear in Life. She is joining us again today to talk more about trafficking and how YOU can get involved and help put an end to this horrible act, which is often called modern day slavery.

It seems no matter where people are trafficked, they have one thing in common: the traffickers are feeding on their vulnerabilities. Maybe you have family issues or boyfriend issues. Maybe your confidence isn’t great. The traffickers spot this. They compliment you, take you out for dinner, buy you things, coerce you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, make you feel wonderful and then make you feel horrible. They feed on your needs, they make you dependent on them, and then, once they’ve worn down your confidence, they exploit you.

In America, 100 000 American kids and teens are trafficked every year. That’s a pretty huge number. This means they’re being exploited, used for their labor and their bodies, and they aren’t getting paid.

Most people agree that human trafficking is a terrible problem and an issue we need to solve in our society today. But how? For a lot of these big issues, it’s normal to wonder what kind of an impact one person can have, especially if you’re a young person with fewer resources.

But I think kids, teens and college students can make a bigger impact today than they ever could in the past. Any student who wants to activate change can do so now through social media and blogging. Nobody knows how old you are, just that you have something interesting to say. I think all young people should have blogs and twitter accounts to share the things they are passionate about. As a side benefit, this can lead to a career.

Here are some small things any person can do to make a difference. Choose one and do it today and then tweet, Facebook or email me to let me know how it went.

1. Volunteer

Almost all big cities have anti-trafficking organizations, so you can look online to see who is in your city. Some of the ones I recommend are … Love 146, Gem Girls, Stop Child Trafficking Now, ECPAT, Restore NYC, Not For Sale, Free the Slaves, Cast LA, La Strada International, Somaly Mam. Safe Horizon, Polaris Project, Stella’s Voice. The Salvation Army.

This is a screenshot of Love 146’s webpage. Visit for more info.
2. Write your senator or representative in Congress.

Tell him or her that you want strict laws to punish traffickers and funds to support victims of trafficking. Go here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

3. Spread the word.

Maybe you don’t want to start a Twitter account or blog dedicated to the subject, but you can let your friends know about the issue on Facebook. You can pass along my novel to your friends. The organization Love 146 has used Trafficked as a tool of awareness and I think it’s a way people can connect on an emotional level with how trafficking happens. 

There are a lot of videos on YouTube that address this issue that you can share, just search the term Human Trafficking.  Please note, many of them are NSFW (or school). 

Love 146: An Overview

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDrCMWT4Khc]

4. Avoid buying slave labor goods.

This includes everything from electronics to clothing to coffee to chocolate. How can you avoid these goods? Shop for fair trade items. Also, shop for things made in the US, or another developed country. It might cost a bit more, but the quality is usually better too. Better to buy fewer things than to know you might be wearing something made by slave labor. 

5. Donate or start a fund-raiser at your school.

Even if you donate five dollars, it can help. I visited a school in Washington, DC, where students are doing regular bake sales. I went to another school in Park City, UT, where students printed up anti-slavery t-shirts and sold those. Every little bit helps. This is why I’m donating 20 percent of everything I make from Trafficked to anti-trafficking organizations. 

Everyday kids and teens are taking a stand about issues they care about and deciding to Do Something.  Visit Do Something.org to learn how you can be a force for good in the world.

We need to help the victims of trafficking and we need to stop this crime from happening in the first place. There are so many innovative things you can do to help end human trafficking. If you decide to turn your compassion into action, let me know what you end up doing. I love hearing these stories. And it doesn’t have to be big…Even a five-minute tweet can change the world, if it’s retweeted enough times.   

GIVEAWAY: Author Kim Purcell is giving away a signed copy of Trafficked. Please leave a comment between now and March 23rd to be entered to win.  We’ll need either an e-mail or a Twitter follow back to get in touch with the winner. Open to residents of the United States.

Fear in writing, fear in life (guest post by Kim Purcell)

Approximately 2.5 million people are forced into labor each year.
1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
95% of human trafficking victims experience physical and sexual abuse.
43% are used for forced sexual exploitation.
(Statistics from UNglobalcompact.org)
1/3 of runaways teens are lured into sexual exploitation and trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home.
95% of sex trafficking victims have been sexually abused at home.
“Survival Sex” is the practice of being coerced to provide sex in exchange for food and shelter.
The average age of entry into female prostitution in America is 12 to 14 years old.
Given these facts, it is more than time to see these stories being told in our teen fiction.  One such story is Trafficked by Kim Purcell.  Today she writes a guest blog post for TLT on fear and how she came to write her novel about human trafficking.

People often ask me what made me write a novel about human trafficking since it’s such a bleak topic. Many influences came at around the same time to point me in the direction of writing this book – a news article, my English as a Second Language students, a housekeeper who was being mistreated, and my cousin living in Moldova, a poor country in the former Soviet Union with a terrible trafficking problem. I hate to see people being mistreated and I wanted to do something about it. However, I was also writing about fear, something every one of us has to overcome, something I’ve worked on overcoming as a person and as a writer.

A 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.  Hannah believes she’s being brought from Moldova to Los Angeles to become a nanny for a Russian family. But her American dream quickly spirals into a nightmare. The Platonovs force Hannah to work sixteen-hour days, won’t let her leave the house, and seem to have a lot of secrets—from Hannah and from each other.  Stranded in a foreign land with false documents, no money, and nobody who can help her, Hannah must find a way to save herself from her new status as a modern-day slave or risk losing the one thing she has left: her life. (Description of Trafficked from Goodreads)

Fear is so universal that I knew readers would be able to relate to my main character, Hannah. She is trapped by the traffickers’ threats and her own fear, not by any physical lock or chain. When I researched human trafficking cases, this is what surprised me most: they have many chances to get away, but they don’t, because they’re too afraid.

Human Trafficking Infographic
from http://stopthetraffik.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/exciting-new-human-trafficking-infographic/

It made me think that modern day slaves aren’t any different from anyone who’s afraid to do something he or she’d like to do. Why do people stay in jobs they hate? Why was it so hard for my ESL students to speak in English to strangers? Why do people stay in relationships that make them miserable? Why don’t we follow our dreams? It usually boils down to fear. I felt that if I could find a way for Hannah to get through her fear, I could find a way for anyone, including myself, to do it too.
Human Trafficking Infographic by Andrew Fung

While I was writing this book, I had to face the fear that I might never be published and people would look at me with pity and think, well, she wasn’t good enough, so sad for her. I’d written two unpublished novels before this one and people had stopped asking me about my writing. I feared I’d never be able to wave that first novel in the air and shout: “I did it.” I was terrified that I’d be that person with a dream who didn’t make it.

Click here for more information about Human Trafficking
Help Trafficked Teens, find out how by visiting Kim Purcell online
For a book discussion guide and more, visit Kim Purcell online
Not for Sale, the website dedicated to ending human slavery in our lifetime. Visit it.
But I kept writing anyway. I put one step in front of the other. I wrote draft after draft. I started to feel proud of what I was writing and I stepped out of the gloomy fear fog. As I overcame my own fear, I was able to make my main character, Hannah, believe in herself and take those few steps forward to change her life. Because sometimes all it takes is just a few more steps and then you’re there.
About Kim Purcell
I grew up in a small town in Canada. It wasn’t right for me, so I left. I went to the University in British Columbia, did a bunch of traveling, got married and moved to LA. I wrote two “practice” novels before TRAFFICKED. I had two kids. We all moved to New York. I love the growl, the sassy walk, the honesty of New York City. It’s inspirational. In my spare time, I’m a swimmer and a runner and a yogi. I dance in elevators and change rooms. I laugh a lot and sometimes I yell.  (More information here)