Tonight was the biggest game of the year for millions of football fans. It was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication for two teams of coaches and players. It was a great day for advertisers because people actually wanted to watch the commercials instead of using that time to run and get a snack! But I want you to take a look beyond the turf, past the lights of the stadium to see 26 billboards like these placed throughout New Jersey and New York:
“Despite the enormity of the problem, most people don’t even realize that human trafficking is happening in their own back yards, and those being exploited are largely unaware that help is available. This form of modern slavery occurs at large sporting events, in suburban brothels, and in farms and factories across America. We want people to understand that sex and labor trafficking is a huge problem across the country that demands our attention and resources – 365 days a year.” ~ Bradley Miles, CEO of Polaris Project.
Human trafficking cases have been reported in all 50 states. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline receives an average of 100 calls per day from all corners of our nation. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that there are 100,000 youths under the age of 18 in the commercial sex trade in the U.S. In 2012, 1 out of 8 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.
The number of human slaves in the United States is just a fraction of the greater worldwide total of 27 million plus victims of human trafficking. Each year that number continues to increase. There are more human slaves in the world today than ever before in history.
We can no longer ignore this worldwide problem. It needs our attention and our resources. We may not be able to spend our time on covert operations investigating brothels and farms looking for victims. But we can give financially to organizations to provide equipment and funding for covert operatives to conduct investigations and raids. As well as providing after care for victims once they have been rescued.
I would like to introduce you to an organization called "The Exodus Road". While at the PAO MLB Conference, we had the privilege of hearing founder Matt Parker share the heart and mission of Exodus Road. "The Exodus Road is not a single investigative organization, but rather it is a network of surveillance teams and individuals, committed to fight trafficking, one legal court case at a time. Currently, we are working with 45 operatives, representing over ten different investigative organizations. Most are current or former police or military men. As a coalition, The Exodus Road has directly supported the rescue of 250 victims of human trafficking since July 2012. "
I challenge you to learn more about how you can be a part of ending human slavery. It's time we use our resources for something more important than snacks for the "Big Game" party and 30 second commercials.