Portland area Catholic students attend Social Justice Summit on human trafficking
By Faith News Note,
Seventy-five students from six Portland area Catholic high schools attended Jesuit High School’s first-ever Social Justice Summit. The focus of the summit was human trafficking for sex and labor. Speakers urged the students to help raise awareness, work for change, and lobby elected lawmakers to renew the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, first passed in 2000 and last renewed in 2008.
The keynote speaker told students they “need to become the microphone of God.”
Students learned that people are kept in this kind of modern-day slavery through abuse, fear, and threats to their families. Often trafficked immigrants don’t speak English and don’t understand their rights or how to get help. People trafficked for labor are most often immigrants; those trafficked for sex are most often Americans.
According to national estimates, one third of all teens who end up on the streets will be lured or forced into prostitution within 48 hours. The US Department of Justice reports that about 300,000 American youths are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Human trafficking is a problem in Oregon, although many people are unaware of it. Keith Bickford, a Multnomah County sheriff’s detective who heads the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force, told the Oregonian that Portland has become a center for human trafficking and Multnomah County has hundreds of trafficking cases.
Jesuit High students are scheduled to meet with Congressional leaders in February to discuss trafficking issues.
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