“I’m just a mom who really cares.”
Faith Carswell doesn’t claim to be an expert on human trafficking.
But when the Fort Walton Beach resident found out about World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, she took action for one reason. She is a mother.
“How could I not stand up for children who don’t have a voice?” Carswell said. “I kept seeing all these posts online of people saying, ‘Where are all the protests for the children? Where’s all the people standing up for the children who are being trafficked?’ I was like, ‘You know what, I’ll be that person. I’ll bring awareness to this problem.’ I’m not pretending to be an expert on statistics or facts. I’m just a mom who really cares.”
Carswell recruited her two friends and fellow passionate mothers, Melanie Marshall of Fort Walton Beach and Shannon Hooker of Freeport, to host an awareness march at 6 p.m. July 30 at Fort Walton Beach Landing Park. The Facebook event is called “Let’s stand against human trafficking.”
“I really wanted them on board with me to back me up and help to bring in as many people as possible,” Carswell said. “They really inspire me.”
Like many others, Carswell has seen the rumors online about child trafficking being conducted in Hollywood. She wants to separate the subject of her march from that and bring awareness to not only the trafficking of children, but also young adults.
“Young adults ages 18 to 25 are also extremely trafficked,” Carswell said. “That’s not something you have to search the dark web for.”
Since researching trafficking on PolarisProject.org and other sites dedicated to the subject, Carswell sees how prevalent it is.
“People don’t really want to think that it’s happening in America,” Carswell said. “But I think people are starting to wake up and realize it is happening in our backyard.”
Florida is an especially problematic area, Carswell explained. Florida ranks third in U.S. in human trafficking cases reported by states, according to the Human trafficking Hotline.
Sex trafficking statistics also alarm Carswell.
“The numbers were so staggering to me that there are 20 to 40 million sex slaves right now,” Carswell said. “That is such a big huge gap. So they don’t even really know how many because so many go undocumented. Those things are so scary to me. The fact that it’s a $150 billion industry is also what caught my eye.”
After seeing the statistics, Carswell created the Facebook event page. She was surprised by the large response after only sharing it through her profile page.
“I was really happy that I saw 110 people sharing it, because I haven’t done any advertising at all,” Carswell said. “If 110 people showed up, I would be floored and so amazed. This is my first time diving into something like this. You don’t have to be a celebrity or someone super rich and powerful to do something – even if it’s small.”
This story originally published to nwfdailynews.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network – Florida.