By Vanessa Rutigliano
Members of the non-profit organization Love True visited the College on Wednesday, Jan. 25, to raise awareness of domestic sex trafficking.
Mariah Springer, a senior psychology major, introduced the presentation and shared her involvement with the organization, which works to end sex trafficking.
“We’re all really passionate about this topic,” Springer said.
Springer served as an intern for Love True over the summer and continued volunteering for them even after the internship ended. Since January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, Springer was inspired to raise awareness for the issue by coordinating an on-campus presentation.
“It’s really important to try to get informed in any way that you can,” Springer said.
The speaker, Rebekah H., who requested to omit her last name to protect her privacy, founded the Love True organization in 2012. Throughout the presentation, she shared several survival stories and statistics about human trafficking. The organization works with social workers and mentoring groups, provides prevention education and offers survivor support services.
The education seminars are split into specific demographics, including one for adolescent boys, one for adolescent girls and a combined seminar for both boys and girls that goes anywhere from four to 10 weeks, according to the organization’s website. They also provide shorter seminars for parents and youth workers, which aims to help them pass on the knowledge to their own children.
“The campaign is really to raise awareness and spread the education,” she said. “I felt that we needed something that was focusing specifically on domestic sex trafficking. (The organization has) grown quite a bit over the years.”
Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, according to a video shown during the presentation. Currently, about 36 million people are trapped in trafficking, sometimes referred to as modern slavery.
In October 2016, police across New Jersey aided the FBI in “Operation Cross Country X,” a nation-wide crackdown on human trafficking, according to an NJ.com article. Local law enforcement arrested 29 pimps and prostitutes across the state.
“Sex trafficking really exists,” Rebekah said. “It’s happening here, in every state, in every county. Trafficking happens in every demographic.”
Springer, along with Rebekah, urged the audience to be proactive about the issue by saving the National Human Trafficking Hotline phone number, (888) 373-7888, in their cell phones as well as spreading the hotline number and awareness to others.