There may be a great deal of you reading this who don’t care much about football. But for millions of fans around the country, this Sunday is the biggest day of football on the calendar. The Super Bowl is happening in Miami and for the next several days, all eyes will be on our state. Even for the casual football fan, Sunday’s game is a pretty momentous occasion.
It brings a lot of attention to Florida, and also brings attention, rightfully so, to the human sex trafficking crisis in our state.
At One More Child Anti-Trafficking our dedicated team serves victims and survivors of sex trafficking 24/7, 365 days a year. The problem is astronomical. A study from the Center for Court Innovation estimates 10,500 youth are trafficked in the US alone. Our expert survivor-leaders believe that the scope of the problem is still greatly underestimated based on our personal and professional experiences.
Our clinicians, advocates, and safe home staff support this belief based on the number of referrals we see and the testimonies of the children, youth and young adults we serve. Polaris Project, leading national experts in sex trafficking research, agree that the trafficking for sex of persons is happening with the same frequency every day, all across America, not just during major sporting events. At One More Child, we are at the forefront of strategic interventions in the lives of vulnerable and exploited children and families. We have an opportunity, like never before, to decrease the number of persons being trafficked as well as the number of sex buyers and traffickers, who every single day are exploiting children and youth in our communities.
The Super Bowl is not instigating more children, youth, and young adults being sold for sex. When there is not a Super Bowl or other major sporting event, victims are still being sold online, through licit and illicit businesses, and on the streets of cities across the country. However, the Super Bowl brings the problem to a centralized area and is an opportunity to enhance victim services, engage typically hidden victims in those services, strengthen collaboration among direct service providers, law enforcement, health care, and businesses, such as hotels and the tourism industry that have regular contact with victims. It also can help to highlight gaps in care and training needs among collaborative organizations, again including hotels and other tourist-related businesses. Lastly, the attention the Super Bowl brings provides the chance to increase awareness in mainstream America.
The state of Florida will play host to the Super Bowl for two years in a row (next year’s game is in Tampa), and this allows Florida’s direct service providers, including us at One More Child Anti-Trafficking, to use our collaborative model to reach and provide opportunities for a way out. Every great winning team has a game plan; at One More Child our game plan is to utilize Super Bowls in our home state to bring awareness and healing opportunities that will carry on 365 days a year, until not one more child is being exploited.
We covet your continual prayer to see breakthroughs in this difficult but necessary and redemptive work.
Christa Lynn, LMHC, CCPT
Executive Director of Anti-Trafficking