I spent almost three years reporting this month's "The Girls Next Door," an in-depth look at the sex trafficking of minors in Colorado. After all that research, there is one statistic that sticks out most in my mind: 27 million. That's the number of people estimated to be enslaved, in some form or another, around the world today. Human trafficking—for sex or labor—is just one piece of that modern-day slavery.
Trafficking is a global and dynamic crime—which is to say you might feel as though there's little you can do to make a dent in such an immense problem. But there are dozens of ways you can help. Here, a few ways to get involved through local organizations:
Prax(us): The Denver nonprofit works with vulnerable individuals, particularly homeless youth, and focuses on what the organization refers to as the root causes of exploitation (poverty, racism, sexism, etc.), with the ultimate goal of ending human trafficking. Lend a hand by volunteering to help with outreach, education, marketing, and more.
Restore Innocence: When trafficking victims are picked up by police, their clothes are often taken as evidence. Thanks to Restore Innocence, the police can hand them restoration bags filled with brand-new clothes and toiletries. Help pack bags, donate products, or become part of the organization's mentoring program.
Lab to Combat Human Trafficking: Started by the same group of volunteers who originally launched Polaris Project Colorado, LCHT is sought after for its community-based research both locally and nationally. The nonprofit also runs the statewide referral network known as CONEHT (Colorado Network to End Human Trafficking). Take part in the group's efforts by volunteering or donating.
iEmpathize: A "child advocacy and media movement" group based in Boulder, iEmpathize aims to eradicate the sex trafficking of children through education, engagement, and empowerment. Spread the message by hosting an event at home or at work.
Sarah's Home: As one of the only restoration homes in Colorado dedicated solely to the recovery of trafficked minors, Sarah's Home works in the proverbial trenches—a difficult place to toil, especially when trying to help children who have endured such trauma. Show your support by volunteering, attending fund-raising events, or donating.
Urban Peak: Within 48 hours of being in the street, one in three youth will be approached by the person who will subsequently exploit them. Though Urban Peak—a nonprofit that helps homeless youth in Denver—isn't focused on trafficking victims, the population they serve is a particularly vulnerable one. Help keep these kids off the streets by donating your time, money, or miscellaneous items.
Standing Against Trafficking Action Conference: Spend Saturday, May 3 (9 a.m.–2 p.m.) learning about what trafficking is and what you can do to end this atrocious crime through conversations on laws and legislation, smart consumerism, prevention, and more. Need some background info? A trafficking 101 session will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The event is sponsored by Amy's House and Bear Valley Church. $20; Denver Community Church, 1101 S. Washington St.
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Follow associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.