On Sept. 23, “Run to Break the Chain,” 5k/10k/Half Marathon, was held in Smith Park, Rexburg, Idaho. The motto of this event was “help end child trafficking.”
“Run to Break the Chain” was a fund-raising event for Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps liberate children from the sex slave industry.
This event has been able to raise $6582, excluding merchandise sales, according to “Run to Break the Chain.”
Over 250 people participated this year in addition to 60 (or more) volunteers, and the event had over a dozen local business sponsors and contributors, said Heidi Fransen, the organizer of “Break the Chain.”
“The funds raised are just an added benefit to what I believe is the most valuable purpose of this event, which is raising awareness,” Fransen said.
Runners explained why they participated in this event.
”I’m running because tears bring sympathy, but sweat brings change,” said Madison G.
“I run for the kids who are denied the freedom to run to a better life,” said Jen W.
“I’m running to bring hope to children who have none,” said Natalie T.
Human Trafficking: “The worst plague in humanity”
Human trafficking includes both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. “Human trafficking defined in its simplest form is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery or forced labor,” according to the Idaho State Department of Education.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in the state of Idaho, since 2007, there have been 51 human trafficking victims in 68 cases in the state of Idaho.
The quantity of the cases is categorized as “high,” meaning a high level of indicators of human trafficking.
According to the website National Human Trafficking Hotline, among the six cases of human trafficking reported in 2017, four of them were sex trafficking, less than three were labor trafficking and less than three were sex and labor trafficking. Five of the victims were female, three were adults and three were minors.
According to the Polaris Project of National Human Trafficking Hotline, concerning domestic human trafficking in the United States, victims can be as young as five years old. The average starting age is 12 years old. Victims include three million youths, and the FBI estimates at least one million minors.
According to the Idaho Legislature, in 2007, Idaho Legislation passed Title 18 Chapter 86, Human Trafficking, the law which defines “human trafficking, the penalties traffickers face when prosecuted successfully, the restitution and rehabilitation costs a trafficker must pay his/her victim, and the protection right a human trafficking victim is guaranteed.”
Stand up and fight
Human trafficking can only be stopped if the world, one person at a time, stands up and fights to end it, Fransen said.
According to Fransen, “Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise on the planet, second only to drug and arms trafficking, and it will soon surpass both of these because while drugs and arms can be sold only once by a single dealer, a person can be sold over and over again. It is estimated to be a $32 billion/year industry.”
Tim Ballard, the founder, and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, said that with that amount of money a person could buy every Starbucks franchise in the world, every team in the NBA, and send every kid in the country to college at the same time.
What has been motivating Fransen are Edmund Burke, an Irish Statesman, and Anuradha Koirala, a Nepalese social activist.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is good men (and women) to do nothing,” said Edmund Burke.
Save the children and teens around us
State Department of Education-Idaho stated that in the United States, including Idaho, traffickers can be family members of the victims. Moreover, local occurrences of human trafficking are increasing.
Nichole Hall, the mathematics coordinator for the State Department of Education-Idaho, created the Human Trafficking Awareness Training on her own time and housed through the State Department of Education-Idaho.
Hall said she takes personal time to provide “face-to-face training in collaboration with local law enforcement to teachers and students.”
She said anyone can access these resources online, which are provided for district/school/teacher/student use. Any public school district can request a face-to-face training for either teacher or student.
“The training focuses primarily on an overview of human trafficking prevention and the dangers at a local level,” Hall said. “Topics include the definition of human trafficking, federal and state code, victim identification, trafficker identification, recruitment and control methods, the online aspect of human trafficking and the red flags that a person may be a victim.”
Hall said that the student training provides scenarios where students can pick out the warning signs.
“Both the teacher and the student training provides information on what to do if you are a victim or if you suspect someone else is a victim,” Hall said.