Inspiring Teens to Take a Stand Against Sex Trafficking

Editor’s note: the following blog post was written by Avni Ahuja, an intern at youthSpark. Avni has already had a great impact on the movement through her commitment to youthSpark, but her voice in motivating other youth to get involved in the issue is particularly inspiring. Avni is the incoming Vice President of her PATH Club at Alpharetta High School. We are grateful for her, as well as the rest of the PATH Club student activists!

I was first exposed to the subject of human trafficking at a youthSpark Teen Community Ambassador Training in 2014. I came out shocked and maybe a little discouraged, even though the experience was definitely educating. First let me clarify: I was discouraged because human trafficking is such a widespread, lucrative practice that I did not know what to address or where to start. It was completely overwhelming. Child sex trafficking is at the center of a complex web of bureaucracy, exploitation, and media. What is more horrifying is that a large amount of the public is scarcely aware of this problem because trafficking has become so ingrained in our society that many people fail to recognize when it is happening. How could I immerse myself in such a global and urgent issue? Where would I even begin?

After my initial hesitation, I decided to take youthSpark’s advice and become involved in my community. My first step was assuming a greater role in my high school’s PATH (People Against Trafficking Humans) Club. This year I served as secretary, and I admit there were many ups and downs. Teen participation is always a challenge, but the members involved gave 100{71bb150a2bc889730474e0d4d3c3934bdfc3cc805d65fba18ac3d426a1e1afd5} effort. Our effectiveness was a testament to “quality over quantity”. Organizing a seemingly simple event such as a guest speaker required months of preparation and extensive communication with our school’s administration, but the outcome was rewarding.

Our biggest success this year was participating in the 2015 DMST Lobby Day, which was attended by 20 or so PATH Club members. We observed a floor hearing in the Capitol on DMST legislation, and some legislators seemed less engaged in the hearing than those of us in the audience were. After rallying with other purple scarf-clad supporters, my fellow PATH Club members and I came back to school with a new resolve. If there was ever a turning point for me, this was it.

Now, here I am as Vice President of Alpharetta High School’s PATH Club, and a brand new intern at youthSpark. I am excited about the opportunities this internship is providing me. But, it is up to me to open the proverbial doors to see what further opportunities await. I hope that I will contribute to youthSpark in a meaningful way, but also be able to bring back what I have learn to others in my community, where many have yet to acknowledge that child sex trafficking is an issue in our own backyards.

I look forward with optimism because I am confident that the efforts of everyone participating in this humanitarian movement will positively impact the lives of future generations. Whenever I feel discouraged, I remember the bigger picture and the reason why I care so much about human trafficking. After all, every little thing we do can end up making a big difference, often in ways that we cannot foresee at the time.