Yesterday, Feb 23, was something called “shine a light on slavery day”. While this may seem like a small gesture, people around the world, inspired by the "End it Movement" drew red X's on their hands, wore a big red X, and posted pictures on their social media raising awareness for human trafficking. While drawing the X’s doesn’t end slavery, it raises awareness among people about this $32 billion industry that thrives on the exploitation of humans just like you and me. This industry is the trade and enslavement of humans and more specifically the trade of humans for sex.

While this movement to draw and wear x’s comes from the “End it Movement”, who partners with organizations such as Out of Darkness, The International Justice Mission, a21, and others, the movement has grown. Just a few days ago, Ashton Kutcher presented before the Senate calling for more action to tackle child sex abuse. Celebrities posted pictures with the End it X, people like Carrie Underwood, and Kristen Bell.

Lately, I have begun to realize the shocking presence of the sex trade in our society today and how desperately it needs to be addressed. Today, over 20 million people around the world sold and bought. An estimated 300,000 of these victims are children, meaning 1 in 5 victims under the age of 18 and the average age to enter the slave trade is 12 years’ old. In a school sponsored event this week I learned typical timeline for teenage girl entering sex trade beginning anywhere between ages 12-15 girls may run away from home, be picked up by a pimp, put on a site like "back-page" and very quickly start servicing between 5-10 men a night. There is a very low possibility these girls will ever be rescued, only 1-2% of slaves ever are. They may run away from the sex trade, may get too old, or may never leave this industry.

In 1850 an average slave cost $40,000 in today’s money, and today, a slave costs about $90. Every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim, and there are more slaves than at any other point in history.

The unfortunate reality is that we are all connected to slavery. People our age, both boys and girls are sold in the slave trade. People our little sister's age, our little brother's age. While the reality is that we are closer to human trafficking and sex slavery than we think, we are closer to ending it than we think. We can raise awareness – learn how through the End it Movement, wear an X and show that you stand to bring an end to this industry. Know the warning signs among people your age. Become educated through the International Justice Mission, Department of Homeland Security. Advocate for this issue with your friends and family, like I am now. Realize that this isn't a Christian issue, a racial issue, a male or female issue, or a US issue, but this is a human issue. Realize the reality of this horror in our society, and be in it to end it.