A community open house and seminar at the Church of Scientology in Seattle raises awareness about child sex trafficking and what can be done to stop it.
Some 500-700 children are forced into prostitution every year in Washington State, according to the Port of Seattle website. And children “as young as nine years old appear on more than 100 websites for soliciting sex in the Seattle area.”
If this can happen in a city known for its thriving economy, beautiful natural scenery and diversity, is there any community in America where youth are safe from its grip? In the belief that there must be something to learn about how human trafficking is perpetrated and what can be done about it, the Seattle Church of Scientology hosted a conference this month to raise awareness about this urgent issue.
A report published by the state’s Task Force Against Trafficking of Persons describes Washington State as “a hotbed for the recruitment, transportation and sale of people for labor.” The report indicates that the state’s international border with Canada and its abundance of ports make it particularly prone to human trafficking.
The Church of Scientology invited Butch Yarnell of the nonprofit Shared Hope International to shed light on what people need to know and what they can do to make a difference. The mission of Shared Hope International is “to prevent the conditions that foster sex trafficking, restore victims of sex slavery, and bring justice to vulnerable women and children.”
Yarnell informed those attending about how predators lure child victims through online communication via tablet, phone—even video game consoles. He shared his organization’s comprehensive Internet Safety Toolkit to help keep children safe. And he screened one of a series of films produced by Shared Hope International, designed to teach teens the warning signs and indicators of trafficking through the true stories of teenagers lured into the sex trade by traffickers posing as boyfriends.
Those attending the open house were unaware of the extent and severity of the problem in the Seattle area.
Human trafficking is one of the most flagrant violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to the White House National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, 25 million people are subjected to human trafficking and forced labor annually, earning traffickers an estimated $150 billion in illicit profits.
The Church of Scientology and Scientologists support United for Human Rights and its program for young people, Youth for Human Rights International. Voices for Humanity, an original series on the Scientology Network, features human rights activists from Mexico to South Africa and high trafficking areas in the United States who use Youth for Human Rights educational materials to raise awareness and protect children and youth from human trafficking.
“Human trafficking crosses every ethnic and socioeconomic line and it is vital that young people are educated on their basic human rights so they won’t become victims of this crime,” said Dave Scattergood, a local advocate with Youth for Human Rights.
Inspired by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s words that “Human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream,” the Church of Scientology and Scientologists support Youth for Human Rights and make its educational materials available free of charge. Watch a documentary on the history and activities of Youth for Human Rights International on Voices for Humanity on the Scientology Network.