Wear Blue This January To Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

Wear Blue This January To Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

It's a huge public safety issue, and almost no one knows how prevalent it really is

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During mid-December, serial killer Devin Howell was charged with the prison assault of Robert King Jr., who is awaiting sentencing for his role in a Danbury, Conn. prostitution ring.

King was charged with felony counts of trafficking in persons, witness tampering and promoting prostitution and plead guilty in August to conspiracy to commit human trafficking. King's prostitution operation provided disabled and addicted young men to customers like Bruce Bemer and William Trefzger for sex.

Human trafficking is a real problem in Connecticut, however, it's viewed as a far-away problem that happens in large cities, or more impoverished states. It's not something that could ever happen in the small, quaint Nutmeg State, which has been ranked one of the wealthiest states in the country, according to the U.S. Census.

But it does happen. Even in the neighborhoods residents think are safe.

In August this year, social media users shared one woman's recount of a potential human trafficker in Blue Back Square and West Hartford center area, however, those counts were unsubstantiated. Additionally, other reports of a possible kidnapping were deemed by police to be a misunderstanding.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery involving the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain labor or a commercial sex act, and generates almost as much as drug trafficking.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been 30 human trafficking cases reported this year, 22 of which concerned sex trafficking, five concerned labor, and three calls concerned both. Of those calls, 22 were reporting a trafficking tip, and six were requests for service referrals.

A 2011 Department of Justice report found that the majority of human trafficking cases concerned the prostitution of adults or minors, and females were more likely to be victims of sex trafficking.

The State of Connecticut has taken steps in the past to address this serious public safety concern, and has made great strides to combat it since 2012.

Most recently in 2017, the Connecticut legislature updated its human trafficking laws to increase the penalty for the crime from a class B felony to a class A felony, which increased the fine from $15,000 to $20,000, and prison time from one to 20 years to 10 to 25 years. It also created a new crime- "commercial sexual abuse of a minor," which made abuse of a minor between the ages of 15 and 17 a class B felony, and abuse of a minor under the age of 15 a class A felony.

The General Assembly also passed a law in 2017 that required the Chief State's Attorney's Office and local police chiefs to report efforts to reduce human trafficking to the Trafficking in Persons Council.

Statewide, there are also many resources for victim-survivors, and for those who may be aware of human trafficking occurring. In Connecticut, individuals can report human trafficking to the Human Anti-trafficking Response Team Careline at 1-800-842-2288.

Nationwide, there is the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-800-373-7888, or text 233733.

On January 11, take a stand against human trafficking by wearing blue in support of the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign, an effort to stop human trafficking.

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Some Of You Never Lived In A Dorm And It Really Shows

Dorms are weird and so is college, but some of you might not know.

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Such an exciting time, the beginning of the school year when thousands of bright eyed and bushy tailed college freshmen pack up their things, arrive on campus and try to make a glorified cracker box into their new home. If you asked ten different college students about their experience living in the dorms I'm sure you would get ten very different and very interesting answers.

For those of you that never had the pleasure (or not) of living in a dorm, here are just a few of the curiosities it provides.

1. Living With An Absolute Stranger

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I don't know who thought up this practice that is otherwise thought of as dangerous, but I'd like to talk to them. Thankfully my situation didn't turn out too bad. Only one of our roommates was a little sketchy, but only because she was never home and didn't talk, then moved out at semester. Nothing like my friend's roommate who puked in his own bed then left it there for over a month... clearly, that kid was ready for adulthood.

2. The Bathroom Situation

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Most dorms have communal bathrooms and that right there calls for an endless array of gross and awkward situations. Shower flip flops can't even save you from those unidentified objects stuck in the drain and you don't know what's been in that toilet today. Figuring out the delicate choreography of getting in the shower without being seen naked and dodging all the cute boys in the hallway while you run to your room in your robe with your hair in a towel.

3. Interesting People On Your Floor

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You are living in a building for a year with hundreds of people. Eventually one of these individuals will no longer be able to contain their freakish ways and habits to the inside of their room. I'm talking about the kids who run through the lobby in their onesies, water guns in hand, having an argument over their favorite anime characters. Also the guy I met at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday in the elevator who was in only his boxers searching every floor for his clothes, wallet, keys, and dignity.

4. Figuring Out Adult Things Together

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Usually, when I break something and need to fix it I go to my parents, but in the dorms, I only had three roommates who probably did the same so we had to get pretty creative. Is that expiration date real or just a suggestion? Probably whichever roommate loses noes-goes has to man up and test it. Thankfully we have the internet now so problems like that time we accidentally got expo-marker stuck on the AC panel were able to be fixed with just the click of a button.

5. The Unpredictable RAs

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It's pretty much a game of roulette with what kind of RA you'll end up with. Will it be the cool guy who opens the first meeting of the year with the sentence "Listen, guys, I'm not a regular RA, I'm a cool RA. Do what you want, just don't get caught ok?" or will it be the RA that suddenly thinks this is their chance to become the Cop from their childhood dreams. "DID I JUST HEAR LAUGHTER? SIMMER DOWN IN THERE OR I WILL WRITE YOU UP." Unfortunately, I had the latter.

6. The Forever Bond You Share With Anyone Who Ever Lived In Your Dorm

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Any time I am out and mention that I lived in Lewis Hall someone comes running over screaming "LEW CREWWWW" and gives me a high five. Then for the rest of my years on campus proceed to do so every time they see me out. We all went through the same thing inside those walls, we all know the politics, and we just get each other on a level no one else can. I don't make the rules, it's just how it is.

So long story short if you have the opportunity to live in the dorms, definitely do. This list may sound like a list of reasons to scare you off, but I assure you it is the same list that most dorm veterans also get sentimental about. Dorm life is your right of passage as a freshman and you should definitely take it.

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