Modern Slavery Human trafficking is not an evil that is new to our world. This form of slavery can be traced back to the ancient times of Pharaohs of Egypt and the Gods of Greece. During these periods, slavery was largely accepted in civilizations across the world. Although slavery was abolished in the United States with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, the practice of selling and exploiting humans continues to occur. The horrors of our nation’s past are still ever present in our society. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States is currently ranked among the top five countries in which human slaves are sold and exploited for sexual purposes. There are many factors that contribute to this large-scale and covert problem, most of which are felt across the nation, such as economic instability, lack of enforcement, and the disenfranchisement of groups of individuals. The expansion of human trafficking is ultimately due to the inadequate societal desire to tackle the problem at its roots. It is our responsibility as the citizens of America to bring compassion and awareness to the plight of trafficked persons. Through proper education and public awareness our society can effectively end human trafficking in the United States.Trafficking is modern day slavery and still Americans are ignorant to its presence. In every city, behind every bar, down every dark alley a transaction is being made in which one human is sold to another for sexual purposes. Many would like to believe that our great country is immune to such atrocities but the truth is its not. Every year, the State Department issues an annual report on human trafficking. This year, for the first time, the U.S. included itself in the document, saying the United States has a serious problem with human trafficking not only as a source country, but as well as a destination for victims. In 2012, the International Labor Organization estimated that there are 20.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide. Numbers released by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center suggest that also holds true in the U.S., where more than 4,000 cases of sex trafficking were reported. But this number does not represent the severity of the issue. Most all involved in human trafficking are silenced by their controllers. This can be the result of a couple factors. First, traffickers are smart. They often play into the narrative and tell victims, who are exploited for sex, that they are the offenders and threaten to call the police and report them for prostitution. This makes sex trafficking particularly challenging to record accurate data on because victims are fearful of going to law enforcement and being charged with a crime. Even with today’s resources, we still are unable to record accurate data on human trafficking in the United States. One of those four thousand reported cases of sex trafficking was that of Olivia. In an interview with The Atlantic reporter Priscila Alvarez, Olivia revealed that before her enslavement in the trafficking industry, her life was fairly normal. She had a good upbringing—a close knit family and a comfortable home. That was before her mother was sent to jail for embezzlement. That singular event completely derailed Olivia’s life. Her relationship with her father became strained and she lost friends at school for behaving so distantly. So when one young man reached out to comfort her through social media, Olivia took notice. They continued speaking to each other online until one day they decided to meet. Oliva was short on cash and needed a place to stay and, conveniently, the young man had an apartment that she could stay at. The two finally met in person only for Olivia to discover that he was in fact a middle aged man who said that she would have to pay rent in order to stay in the apartment. With no job and a distant family, Olivia was on the brink of poverty and had no method of payment. When the man proposed a one time prostitution gig that would pay the months rent, Olivia reluctantly agreed. This is why education is essential to effectively stopping human trafficking in the United States. Pimps have developed innumerable methods of indoctrinating young women and children into the world of human trafficking. More often than not, girls are unwittingly lured into unwilling prostitution with promises of jobs, money, clothing and modeling. The promise of a better life is appealing and leads young women to trust people they wouldn’t otherwise. Once they are within the realm of human trafficking, it is difficult to escape. Often pimps will use the women already in the network to recruit more. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be halted by educating women across the nation about how to prevent being caught in the cycle. A possible solution has been proposed to include human trafficking at the middle school level health class curriculum. While some parents would argue that such content is to vulgar for children of such a young age; they are simply ignorant to the fact that middle school children is the age group that is most at risk to be trafficked. They must be educated about the dangers that exist in our country. While the content is vulgar, we cannot allow our ignorance to shield us from the truth. And it starts young. Once the are educated on the importance of safety, pimps will have a much harder time recruiting them into human trafficking rings. Education is the pathway to a safer future for all of us.Although education specifically about the dangers of human trafficking is of key importance; education and proper access to it is at the heart of this issue. Heather Bland, the CEO of a non-profit organization called My Refuge House recognizes the important role education plays in preventing human trafficking. Her foundation raised a grand total of 38,000 dollars to go towards the education of past human trafficking victims in order to inspire a future generation of strong young women. “Education is at the center of this epidemic,” says Heather Bland. “Education helps these survivors succeed and gives them the ability to choose a path in life where they can support themselves. Education has the power to prevent and end human trafficking.”The largest problem with the enactment of these educational reforms is the lack of awareness and funding regarding human trafficking in the United States. Public awareness campaigns for human trafficking have a unique opportunity to inform public opinion and influence policy decisions on a local and national level. Even though human trafficking legislation has been passed in many countries, public awareness campaigns continue to shape the evolving attitudes, perceptions, and policies regarding trafficking. If we are able to promote our issues into local campaigns and build to the national level; there is opportunity to receive federal funding of new educational programs that would include human trafficking in their curriculum. Organizations such as Polaris have proven their effectiveness on a national scale by bringing the issue of human trafficking to the public. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris systemically disrupts the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. Organizations such as this are growing in funds and support by the day. But it still the responsibility of the american citizen to promote these issues and take action. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes recently conducted an interview with Dr. Saisuree Chutikul of thailand, a man with increased experience with the global issue of human trafficking. When asked about the most effective method to end human trafficking within the United States he stated that “Education and knowledge of trafficking of persons among all members of society are key to beating human traffickers. You have to use all of the means at your disposal to raise awareness about the crime, its nature, causes and damage to victims – Governments, civil society, the press, private companies: each and every entity must work toward promoting knowledge of this issue.” Human trafficking must be stopped. It is modern slavery that has infested and taken root in the heart of our beloved nation. It is high time that the citizens of America take action to promote public awareness and educational reform in order to combat this growing issue. Stories like Olivia’s are inumeral and many of their voices will go unheard. The issue is at large and the time is now. Together, we can end human trafficking in the United States.