A Letter to Financial Institutions by a 16 Year Old High School Girl

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Written by a sixteen-year-old high school girl.

The topic of human trafficking and child exploitation is undoubtedly a bitter pill to swallow. It was something I, as a young girl, was unwilling to face but something I sought to understand better. In fact, I was dissuaded by adults to venture into the grim subject. But our unfortunate reality is that it is inevitably encountered, even more so as a teenage girl. Kidnapping. s*x trafficking. Human trafficking. Child exploitation. r**e. I could barely conceptualize those terms but I thought to myself who protects young girls like me from all of this? I was scared but determined as I refused to remain ignorant of its severity. Much of this subject remains in the dark due to the sensitivity of the topic despite its large-scale prevalence. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children stated a staggering 97.5% increase from 2019 to 2020 in cyber-targeted child exploitation with around 20 million reported cases of predator-like enticement on websites as well as explicit s*x-based advertising. Moreover, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its 2020 global report stated, that children are subjected to physical or extreme violence at a rate almost two times higher than adults at the hands of traffickers. It is the plausibility of human trafficking and the danger for a girl to be out in public that deters my typical teenage confidence and rationality. That small voice in the back of my head saying “What if?”.

Change is needed in our reality and that is why I am with the Knoble, because I want voices to be heard. The voices of young students– children striving to improve society. Are they worth it? The voices advocating for the number of people taken from families to be reduced and for areas like schools, parks, and malls to be safer and protected. Human trafficking and child exploitation rings are built to thrive economically as they operate on an immense global scale of supply and demand. According to the UNODC report, most victims identified in adjudicated cases are “self-rescued” suggesting that proactive identification remains limited in scope and effectiveness – a review of court cases found that the majority of cases are brought to authorities by victims who manage to exit exploitation and come forward on their own. A shocking statistic stated how 41% of victims escape and reach out to the authorities on their initiative demonstrating how few cases are detected by law enforcement, members of the community, and civil society.

This is an issue that cannot be eliminated overnight but it highlights the cruciality of financial institutions to aid law enforcement in the fight against human and s*x trafficking. I see hope in the endeavors and initiatives taken from you as a financial institution. I see hope in those institutions that pour their efforts into awareness and prevention, those who strive to make a difference.

Sincerely,

A sixteen-year-old high school girl


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