APPLE VALLEY, Ca. – When the world welcomed in the new year, everyone was in for a big surprise from the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes that came with it, to police brutality some ending in death. From the “Black Lives Matter” rallies intended to bring attention to injustice towards Black Americans, to those countering the cause screaming “All Lives Matter”.
Of course, we all matter but the real point is that not all are always treated as if they do and if some do not see it, awareness is a necessity to create any change. Another group with not nearly enough focus on them are children who are being victimized by human trafficking. There is some disagreement about the significance of the issue but Unicef USA said that the number of these cases, both sex, and labor trafficking or children have increased throughout the years. Over 10 percent of children reported as runaways are believed to be victims of child sex trafficking.
The majority believe, “not in our country”, yet we have seen clear evidence that some of the rich and famous in our country are victimizing underaged children. There are also the low-budget pimps who prey on young, vulnerable runaways or even those lured from their own neighborhoods to the streets of San Bernardino, Pomona, and many other cities across the United States. Groups of people have spoken out using hashtags like #PIZZAGATE, #SAVETHECHILDREN and #SAVETHEKIDS. The United States has a National Human Trafficking Awareness day on January 11th and the United Nations has named July 30th as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
An Apple Valley resident, Tabatha Heck said that she was driving one day and she saw a rally to bring awareness for sex trafficking. She said she opened her window to cheer them on, as she normally would for a cause she believes in. Only this time she had no voice, the subject touched her so deeply she was brought to tears. Rather than just wipe away the tears and forgetting how she felt, she decided that she wanted to help raise awareness. She began planning a rally. On August 15th, Tabatha and around 30 others met on Highway 18 and Apple Valley Road to bring awareness to child labor and sex trafficking.
The protest ended within around three hours because of the excessive temperatures. Tabatha said she is happy that what she did may have done something to help raise awareness. “Once awareness is raised, we can move on to changing the laws,” said Tabatha. She continued to say that she just has to think that change is possible. “The day I think I won’t help make a difference is the day I give up”, she added. “ If we all come together to help this problem in our world I feel like we can help change this reality of our world.”