We all learned it in history class. The 13th amendment abolished slavery in 1865, slavery is over and everyone is free. Hooray!

Wrong.

Human trafficking is the modern-day slave trade.

It’s estimated that there are over 46 million people enslaved today. That’s greater than all of recorded human history combined. Slavery isn’t legal anywhere, but it happens everywhere,

and we play a larger role than you might think.

In the United States, the most common form of slavery is sex slavery. Specifically, sexual slavery of children and minors.

The average age a teen enters the American sex trade is 12-14 years old. These children are typically runaways who were sexually abused at an even younger age.

I mean, think about that. 12-years-old. Forced to have sex with up to 10 men per day on average.

And it’s not just girls. 400,000 men and boys are being sexually exploited globally.

And according to the UN 46% of victims worldwide know their trafficker, meaning uncles, aunts, step-parents, family friends, neighbors, etc. Imagine living in a home where you aren’t even safe from your own family.

Sex slavery isn’t even the largest source of income. 65% of the world’s slaves are in a forced labor situation.

Slaves work in fields, brothels, homes, mines, restaurants – anywhere. Fun fact, 90% of companies shipping shrimp to the U.S use some type of bonded or forced labor to produce it. I’m sure all the migrant workers from Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia really hope you enjoy that shrimp cocktail at your next house party.

And no, it’s not just shrimp we should be wary of.

Slavery is so ingrained in our lives now, the products of it are found in everything like cell phones, laptops, jewelry, steel, seafood and beef, sugar, and the raw granite carved into kitchen countertops and tombstones. Even the clothes we buy are made in sweatshops.

One billion people worldwide live on less than a dollar a day. Subsistence living makes people very vulnerable to making compromises that could result in enslavement. Some poor families have been known to give their children away to traffickers posing as “placement agents” who claim the children they take will be given a better life. Instead, these children become slaves without the parents ever knowing what happened to them.

What’s even more disturbing is how much these traffickers make off their prey. Keeping in mind that they’re criminals, so that’s un-taxed money, traffickers make $150 billion in profits a year.

I have 46 slaves working for me. 46. They’re in the cell phone I use, the car I drive, the food I eat and the clothes I wear.

As much as we hate to think about it, we all have a small plantations' worth of slaves touching every part of our lives. It’s time we stopped turning our heads to the injustices going on in the world around us and give these children, women, and men their lives back and the freedom we teach our children about.