The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk every year for commercial sexual exploitation. In 2004, the U.S. Department of State reported that approximately 600,000-800,000 people are bought and sold across international boarders each year.
Florida A&M University’s students are part of the movement to stop child trafficking. Stop Child Trafficking Now is a non-profit organization that raises money to fund more Special Operative Teams. These teams gather information on child predators and prevent child abductions both in the U.S. and abroad.
Students from FAMU and Florida State University in conjunction with members of the community are banding together to put an end to child trafficking, concluding a week of events with a walk at Lake Ella Thursday evening.
“We’re trying to make a change, and be the change we wish to see,” said Jasmine Johnson, 20, the FAMU ambassador for Stop Child Trafficking Now.
“According to UNICEF, Leon County is number two in the state of Florida for the amount of children in child trafficking. A pimp or a madam can stand to make 200,000 dollars a year off of one child,” Johnson said, emphasizing the average age of the children trafficked: 8 – 18 years old.
For third-year political science student from Orlando, Kuri Mickel, the statistics made the mission more personal for him.
“I heard about it [child trafficking] but I didn’t know how serious it was,” Kuri said. “I saw pictures of children who suffered, and I have a niece and a nephew who are both young. It’s a good feeling to help others.”
Analisa Velez, 21, third-year acting student from FSU, found out about the walk through her bible study group Every Nation Campus Ministries.
“It happens here…everybody thinks that it just happens in foreign countries, but it is happening here too,” Velez said.
Velez hopes that this walk will not only promote awareness of the issue, but ignite students to get involved.
“This is one step closer to making a difference… now that there’s more awareness more people will be on fire about it,” Velez said.
Stop Child Trafficking Now hopes to reach out to members in the community to make a difference and, most importantly, save lives. For more information, visit www.sctnow.org.