Letter to the Editor: Human Trafficking

Human trafficking has become a repulsive crime in the Youngstown community. There has been an increase in the amount of trafficking, placing our children in grave danger. Human trafficking is defined as, “modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” Currently, Ohio is ranked fifth in the entire nation for human trafficking, with the second largest group of children being between 16 and 17 years old, and the third largest group being adolescents between 13 and 15 years old. With these startling statistics, keeping our children safe should be our number one priority.

We have children in our community walking three to four blocks to neighborhoods that they are not familiar with for their bus stops. If we as parents (and guardians) don’t permit our children to go to unfamiliar areas, why should they be expected to go to strange areas to catch the bus? They should be picked up at the end of their own street. With the increase in activity with human trafficking, we are putting our children at risk for abduction, prostitution and being sold into the black market on backpage websites.

According to the Polaris Project, children have a one in six chance of being abducted as a sex trafficking victim. As fall approaches, our children will be standing in the dark waiting for their bus to arrive and should be protected and feel safe. Some parents are unable to be at the bus stop until the bus arrives because of work schedules, college schedules and may be single parents. Having the children picked up on their own street brings familiarity to their surroundings with neighbors that keep an eye on them, and a general sense of trust knowing who is coming and going down the street and they can recognize neighborhood vehicles.

When a child is familiar with their surroundings, they have a sense of calm, less stress and some self-independence with such a huge responsibility of getting themselves on the bus. Although most children have cell phones to keep in touch with their parents, the first thing a predator will do is take the phone and turn it off so they are unable to be tracked. This takes away the child’s only chance to let anyone know they are in danger. By keeping busing in a child’s familiar neighborhood surroundings, they will be more likely to notice any unusual person or activity and will be more likely to reach out to someone.

Tracey Kaufman
YSU Nursing Student
[email protected]