Senior project sheds light on human trafficking

Alyssa Navarro
Staff Writer 

Three-thousand children each day are victims of human trafficking throughout the world and Opal Singleton, president and CEO of Million Kids, came to the University of La Verne to spread the word on this issue.

“Human trafficking is not inevitable,” Singleton said. “Education is key.”

A lecture to raise awareness of human trafficking was held Tuesday in ACB 212 as a part of Mark Batacan, Kyle Porter, Sara Garcia and Nicole Rodriguez’s senior honors presentation. Throughout the semester, they researched the topic of human trafficking on the global, national and local levels.

“We chose the topic because it is such a prevalent issue that gets swept under the rug and no one really knows about,” senior accounting major Batacan said. “Our goal was to make an impact on a global issue, no matter how small.”

Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the United States. It occurs when a person is taken either by force or trickery to work for another person as a slave. It is divided into sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking includes prostitution, commercial sexual exploitation and sexual tourism.

“The presentation was extremely enlightening and the presenter was able to break down the complex issues and terms that we can all understand,” said senior English and creative writing major Sarah Barthel.

Singleton explained how many women are talked into this job by being promised a better life only to be tricked into prostitution or by being led into drug addiction. The addiction fuels their need to work for the drugs and keeps the trafficking business running.

Singleton gave the example of people selling oranges or flowers on the streets as labor trafficking. Labor trafficking occurs when the victim finds themselves in a great debt to the person who helped them seek a better opportunities but instead lied to them. They must then work to pay them back but the owners know their slaves will never work enough.

She gave a case of sex trafficking in our local neighborhood. A young girl in Yorba Linda got in business with a pimp that threatened to kill her because she wanted to leave the business. He convinced her that if she ever left he would kill her family. A couple days later, she was killed.

“I had no idea things were so bad in California,” junior biology major Alyssa Carroll said.

Many students attending the presentation were shocked to find out this incident happened in a city not to far away from La Verne.

“I was baffled that things like human trafficking really do go down I our own backyards and I’m happy that I now know that because I feel like I can be a better asset to my community now that I have that knowledge,” Barthel said.

Alyssa Navarro can be reached at alyssa.navarro@laverne.edu.

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