Students discuss solutions to prevent human trafficking

Dr. Josh Ritter, co-leader for the Public Deliberation Initiative, explains the ground rules for Wednesday's discussion about human trafficking. Photo credit: Penelope Shirey

By Joy Moton | Staff Writer

Baylor’s Office of Student and Community Engagement, in partnership with International Justice Mission, invited students to gather in the classroom of North Russell Hall for a human trafficking forum Thursday evening.

International Justice Mission is an international organization composed of social workers who take cases in international countries.

Sacramento, Calif., junior Morgan Powell said human trafficking is so prevalent in other countries because often the police are on the side of criminals.

“Almost every country has laws against slavery, but they don’t have security to enforce them,” Powell said.

Baylor’s International Justice Mission chapter hosts events to raise awareness about these issues.

Powell said it is important for Baylor students to pay attention to these problems because human trafficking occurs in America due to small actions.

“Stuff like this happens under our nose and we don’t realize it. Things like rape, porn and prostitution lead to human trafficking — a lot of little things lead to international issues,” Powell said.

Students at the event were separated into groups to engage in discussion about methods for raising awareness and preventing human trafficking. They were given pamphlets describing various approaches to decide which methods would be the most effective to raise awareness about the dangers of human trafficking.

“This gave us the opportunity to get students to talk about such a hot topic in the community,” said Erin Payseur, International Justice Mission faculty adviser and associate director for civic learning initiatives.

The first approach explored the options of raising awareness through the community. The second approach listed the roles schools and public officials can play in reducing the impact of human trafficking. The final approach discussed the laws and policies that could be changed for the sake of decreasing human trafficking. Students engaged in dialogues and chose one approach.

“You can listen about the topic and hear statistics, and it’s great, but it’s more impactful for students to have their voices heard. Allows them to take what they’re hearing and actually discuss this issue,” said Salem, Ore., senior Omar Mosqueda.

Mosqueda said he felt more educated and inspired to spread the word about human trafficking.

“For some, this was the first time hearing about the issue. I learned it’s not just a third world issue. It was so impactful to learn that this is occurring here in Waco,” Mosqueda said. “With the information that I got from this forum and the work at IJM, I’m hoping to one day combat this issue on a national level.”