Beware: College students targeted for sex trafficking
By: Evie Palmer
The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865. Yet, 150 years later, the human trafficking industry is a 32 billion dollar industry.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) states, “It’s sad but true; here in this country, people are being bought, sold and smuggled like modern-day slaves.”
Students like Shamere McKenzie, a former student at St. John’s University fall into exploitation while in college.
McKenzie describes colleges as “hot spots” for traffickers.
As an average college student, McKenzie came upon some hard times and even lost her track and field scholarship.
Low on self-esteem and cash, she became desperate; so when her trafficker, her boyfriend, suggested the opportunity to make extra money by stripping, she complied.
McKenzie began a downward spiral of physical and emotional abuse and became trapped into much more than merely stripping with her pimp threatening her family and inflicting physical and emotional pain if she tried to escape.
“Once you are in, it is difficult to get out because of the fear and emotional manipulation,” said McKenzie.
After 18 months of abuse, McKenzie got away. Now, she is the CEO of an anti-trafficking foundation, Survivors of Slavery.
There are still many young women out there just like McKenzie who are trapped in a life of slavery.
Because of the rise of human trafficking nationwide, everyone, especially students, needs to be aware of the type of victims that these traffickers are looking for.
“I think [students] should get involved in church activities or groups [on campus] that will keep them more so out of that arena, so they won’t be so susceptible,” said Sergeant Carson Whatley of GPC Public Safety. “I encourage women here to walk in groups.”
Traffickers may promise money to those who need it or give attention to those who lack self-esteem. Some may even drug their targets.
“I worry that self-esteem issues play into it, if the girls are not outright abducted,” said Dede Weber, Clarkston Enrollment and Registration Services staff member. “I think there is a component of individual responsibility, but I also think it’s society’s responsibility to provide the information and to identify the most vulnerable group.”
Whatever the case, pimps primarily look for women to victimize, which only emphasizes the need for college women to be alert and on guard.
Students should not be on their phones while they’re walking, according to Whatley.
Nonetheless, precautionary measures exist for student safety.
“If students feel at danger, call campus security by dialing extension 3940,” said Whatley.