(Jackson, Wyo.) - In her essay, Jackson Hole Middle School student Sophia Tozzi compares the life of a normal, healthy 13-year-old to one that has been captured and sold through sex trafficking. And it's like night and day. She has done the research, decided these kids need a voice and has already begun raising money to help an organization called Stolen Youth that helps those caught in human trafficking. Learn more in her essay below. Learn about the local students who #CombattheSilenceJH here.
*Captured. Sold. Bought. By Sophia Tozzi*
*A 13 year old girl*
It was a stormy night. The wind was blowing, ripping around the house, and
the hard rain was slamming against the glass windows. I was lying in my
bed, cozied up and warm under my thick comforter. Then what sounded like a
bomb went off, and the lighting lit up my room. I snuggled down into my bed
and and grabbed a book. Suddenly everything went quiet. I was confused, two
seconds ago it had been so loud. I opened my shade and looked out my
window. White flakes were falling from the sky. Snow? In May? This couldn't
be. I quickly jumped back into my bed. I started drifting off to sleep,
memories going through my head of the past winter. The light flicked on
downstairs and I knew my dad, was ready for bed too. As the snow blew
harder, I felt cozier and cozier in my room. I was so tired and I was so
relieved to be sleeping in my warm cozy bed. I heard my dad come up the
“Goodnight” My dad whispers.
“Goodnight, dad,” I whisper back.
I quickly turned my light off and sunk down into my warm, cozy bed. I
slowly fell asleep, dreaming of snow in may.
In contrast, 100’s of miles across the country a 13 year old girl was being
sexually abused. In a different house, not her own. Without her parents.
Not wanting to go back home because she was not feeling welcomed by her own
parents. Out on the streets, anything could go wrong. That night she was
captured by pimps, and sold into prostitution. While she thought it was her
perfect fit at first, everything turned on her. She had nowhere to go and
nowhere to turn. She was stuck. Stuck in a different home. Coerced to do
drugs, to be sexually abused and to suffer.
Finally she traveled to a community center, where she knew she could get
help. It was obvious that the girl needed medical attention and was quickly
taken into the hospital. She told the people there of her experience. Being
forced to do meth. Forced to be sexually abused. Forced to suffer. She then
admitted that she didn't feel safe with her family.That the last thing she
wanted to do was go home. She didn't feel wanted. Didn't feel loved. She
did not feel safe. She didn't want to go back home.
She is only 13. What do people want out of such young girls? Little do we
know, she is one of many girls our age that are manipulated into
prostitution and trafficking. Human trafficking is a significant problem in
the world today, and we can combat the silence by raising awareness and
donating to charities such as Stolen Youth.
*Isn’t this my age?*
Most children these days worry about winning their next soccer game in Twin
falls or when they are going to hang out with their friends and go to
Starbucks. What these more privileged children are not aware of what is
happening around them. Just 860 miles away children are being trapped, into
a black hole, coerced into prostitution for their bodies and sex. So? What
does this mean? “The median age is 13 for girls, 14 for boys. However, our
advocates continually reporting getting referrals for 11 and 12 year old
children” (Stolen Youth). This is a big issue. Just imagine being coerced
to do sex at such a young age. I know it is hard to believe, and you don’t
want to think about this nightmare, but it is a very real. These children
are so young, and so vulnerable. “One in three runaway teens on the street
will be approached by a trafficker within 48 hours after leaving home”
(Stolen Youth). Just 2 days. 2280 Minutes. 17200 seconds. While I am happy
and cozy in my bed at home, another girl is being captured. Girls and boys
so close to us, are suffering.They are forced to do things they have never
seen before. Never even heard of. Even manipulated into jail because they
did the “harm.” It is hard to believe, but this problem should have been
solved decades ago.
*My money. Your Money. *
Money. Money. Money. This is all that goes through the traffickers’ minds.
Captured. Bought. Sold. Over and over again.
- “Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry
(behind illegal drugs and arms \trafficking).
- It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that
number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries” (11 facts about
Human Trafficking is an industry? Who would have thought? All that the
traffickers want in money. Money is all that they get. “In a recent sting
operation in King County, (Seattle area), one online ad for a 15-year-old
girl for sale received 250 unique callers of interested buyers, in just 2
hours” (Stolen youth). This example shows that the internet can be really
dangerous. Kids abuse the internet. Doesn't everybody think that? If you
think about it adults, people like the pimps abuse it more. For horrible
reasons. Inappropriate pictures. Awful words. Just for 1 girl to be sold.
It is so horrific that people use the internet to turn trafficking into an
industry. Without the money, and the buyers, this would not be as big of an
issue and it is today.
Children. Sold into trafficking. Nowhere to go, and nothing to do. They
finally come out but with health issues, both mentally and physically. “In
addition, victims may be exposed to serious health risks,..]] as well as
serious mental health risks. Anxiety, insecurity, fear, and trauma are all
products of trafficking” (Human Trafficking search). Effects of
trafficking? I had never heard of such a thing. Sure enough, I found that
while I am casually jumping on my trampoline, children have to go to
therapy, after they are forced into prostitution. After they are forced to
do drugs. Their mind has forever changed. “Sex trafficking is a form of
modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally”
(Polaris). Didn't we all think that slavery was mostly gone? Selling. That
is all that causes it to be slavery. Bought. Sold. Bought. Sold. Again and
again and again. As we are sitting at home worrying that we don't have
enough money to go to Starbucks later, children are worried about how much
money they will get sold for. This proves that human trafficking is a
significant issue. It is sickening to think that so many people are bought
and sold--so much so that it is slavery.
*Why is this issue still an issue?*
If you were paying attention you are probably very confused and mad. Human
trafficking is a very real issue, but we owe to the children, adults and
the organizations to help. Some people might argue that stopping all the
pimps and buyers is the answer to human trafficking; however, the solution
we need to focus on is Stolen Youth:
“Upon our return, we realized that we have a horrific problem here in our
own backyard. A recent study identified that Seattle has one of the top
twenty worst records for the sexual exploitation of children in the United
States. This was our call to action and Stolen Youth was born. If a tiny
group of people in India can make a difference with the humblest amount of
resources, then we must be able to effectively deal with this problem here
where we have so many more resources. With your involvement, Stolen Youth
can raise funds and awareness, advocate and educate, support and empower
each and every one of these children who desperately need our help” (Stolen
Although there are many other solutions to combat Human Trafficking, Stolen
Youth, based out of Seattle, is one of the best organizations that helps
this cause. After finding out about the girls in India, they realized that
actually this issue exists everywhere. Starting quickly and researching
they found that their home, Seattle was one of the areas where human
trafficking is a very real issue. Now Stolen youth is able help the
different children coerced into the cause. They do not personally find the
children but they raise money for the children. The children find them. Ask
them for support. Ask them to help with therapy, or there issues at home.
Stolen Youth now raises a lot of money, to help support these children.
Stolen Youth still thrives, and is helping children all over Seattle. Now
we just need everybody to help this cause, not just one organization.
*We need you!*
Now before you put down this article and go hang out with your friends and
jump on the trampoline, you must understand one thing: It is not just the
responsibility of Stolen Youth to stop human trafficking. If we want it to
stop this issue, everybody must take a stand and scare themselves. You are
probably wondering if you have to do it to, yes this means everybody.
The organization Stolen Youth symbolizes serious guts. Do you remember how
I talked about young children being manipulated into prostitution for
their bodies. So what is Stolen Youth’s mission? “Raising funds and
awareness to support the rescue and recovery of our community’s sexually
I think that this organization is so stellar, that I decided to do a bake
sale to raise money for this organization. It was Friday. I rode my bike
around Wilson, delivering brochures, to all of the houses, leaving them on
the doorsteps. Then I got busy making cupcakes, cookie, brownies, and
lemonade to sell. Well you are probably wondering, Why was I scared? I was
scared that nobody was going to come. I was scared that people would just
pass by, thinking this is no big deal, we don't need to spend our money on
this cause. I was scared to explain this issue. Even though I was scared I
pushed through this cause, sitting at my stand outside of Nora’s Fish Creek
For 3 hours, I talked, handed out packets of information, sat there with a
smile and sold. Surprisingly we sold $200.43! So many people came. “I
received your brochure and I think this is such a great cause you are
supporting. Keep the change!”
You are probably wondering if this is just a one time thing for me. The
answer? No. I will continue to donate to Stolen Youth and raise awareness
about this cause. My hope is one day Everybody will be aware of this cause,
and fight to end this tragedy.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It
is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some
difference that you have lived and lived well.”
We can be useful, be kind, and be honorable, by donating to Stolen Youth.
* Works Cited *
“America’s Daughters.” Polarisproject. Polaris, 2016. Web. 2 June 2016. <
http://polarisproject.org/resources/americas-daughters-video>. We used this
website for information, but we also used this video to show in our
“11 Facts About Human Trafficking.” DoSomething.org. DoSomething.org, 2016.
Web. 2 June 2016. <
This source was useful for getting a few quick facts.
FAQ’s, Stories of Survival, Etc. Stolen Youth. Stolenyouth, 2015. Web. 2
June 2016. . This was my most valuable resource
and I used many parts of this website for this project.
“Impact.” Human Trafficking Search. Human Trafficking Search, 2016. Web. 2
June 2016. . This website
helped me find effects of Human Trafficking.
“The Purpose of Life is not to be Happy...” Quote Investigator. Word Press,
n.d. Web. 2 June 2016. .
I used a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
*Feature Photo: Sophia Tozzi (on the left) sells baked goods to raise money
for Stolen Youth. Pitchengine Communities*
#buckrail #news #combatthesilencejh