An unexpected group is being recruited to combat human trafficking, as they relate to the peer group that is most impacted.
In Our Backyard is the name of an Oregon-based organization set up to challenge human trafficking throughout the country. Founder Nita Belles has launched a sub-organization called Teens Against Trafficking and is now taking an educational program into middle schools and high schools in her state to help students understand what trafficking is, how they can spot it and what to do if they do.
"It's been a very good program in that many teens are becoming aware; they're becoming activated in this fight," Belles tells OneNewsNow. "When they're doing that, they understand what human trafficking is, and thankfully, they're not going to be the ones we're going to see at 3:00 in the morning when police do a sting."
The students are shocked when they learn that pornography, which children are already viewing, is a key factor that leads people to seek out the services of someone being trafficked. The young people's peers are the ones being sold.
"There's just a huge opportunity, because there's incredible need," Belles acknowledges regarding her organization's aim. "We've got to protect our kids. The average age of entry for sex trafficking is 12-14 for girls and 11-13 for boys."
The Oregon project has been so successful that there is every indication it can and should spread nationwide. Right now, In Our Backyard is developing strategy to work with Atlanta police to curb trafficking at the Super Bowl.