I’m just a teen…What can I do to stop human trafficking?

Trafficked book coverIt seems no matter where people are trafficked, they have one thing in common: the traffickers are feeding on their vulnerabilities. Worldwide, estimates are that 12 to 27 million people are trafficked. Half of these are kids and teens, most are female. Each year, 14, 500 to 17, 500 people are trafficked into America.

However, not just foreigners are trafficked. A lot of people are surprised when I do talks about the number of American kids who are trafficked inside America, not while on a trip abroad – this is very rare, despite what Hollywood wants to tell you. The real story is more shocking. 100 000 American kids and teens are trafficked within America every year. If an average high school has around 1000 kids, that’s 100 high schools. Trafficking doesn’t mean they are being smuggled or transported – it means they’re being exploited, threatened and used for their labor and their bodies, usually in the sex industry.

Most people agree that human trafficking is a terrible problem and an issue we need to solve in our society today. But how? As with many of these big issues, it’s normal to wonder what kind of an impact one person can have, especially if you’re a young person with fewer resources.

Here are some small things any person can do to make a difference. Choose one and do it today and then tweet, Facebook or email me to let me know how it went. Then I’ll share your story as an inspiration to others.

1. Volunteer

Almost all big cities have anti-trafficking organizations, so you can look online to see who is in your city. Some of the ones I recommend who helped me with the research for Trafficked or who’ve helped with the promotion of Trafficked as a tool of awareness are … Love 146, Gems, Restore NYC, Cast LA, La Strada International, Safe Horizon, The Salvation Army.

2. Write your senator or representative in Congress.

Tell him or her that you want strict laws to punish traffickers and funds to support victims of trafficking. Go here.

3. Spread the word.

Kids, teens and college students can make a bigger impact today than they ever could in the past through social media and blogging. Nobody knows how old you are, just that you have something interesting to say. All young people should have blogs and twitter accounts to share the things they are passionate about. As a side benefit, this can lead to a career. Maybe you don’t want to start a Twitter account or blog dedicated to the subject of human trafficking, but at least you can let your friends know about the issue through Facebook or Twitter.

4. Avoid buying slave labor goods.

This includes everything from electronics to clothing to coffee to chocolate. How can you avoid these goods? Shop for fair trade items. Also, shop for things made in the US, or another developed country for a higher chance that it is not made with slave labor. It might cost a bit more, but the quality is usually better too. Better to buy fewer things than to know you might be wearing something made by slave labor. One of my favorite fair trade stores is Ten Thousand Villages and, as a plus, they have unique, good quality gifts.

Here’s an article containing a list of slave labor goods.

5. Donate or start a fund-raiser at your school.

Even if you donate five dollars, it can help. I visited a school in Washington, DC, where students are doing regular bake sales. I did a Skype visit with another school in Utah, where students printed up anti-slavery t-shirts and sold those. Every little bit helps. This is why I’m donating 20 percent of everything I make from Trafficked to anti-trafficking organizations. It’s not much, but it’s something.

There are so many innovative things you can do to help end human trafficking. If you decide to turn your compassion into action, let me know what you end up doing. I love hearing these stories. And it doesn’t have to be big…Even a five-minute tweet can change the world if it’s retweeted enough times. We can work together and end slavery in this generation.


In Thanks To Bloggers: A Six Month Anniversary

This week I passed my six-month book anniversary and as a result, I’ve been reflecting on TRAFFICKED, where it was and where it has come. Before the book came out, I never could have imagined how busy I would be doing readings, interviews and guest blog posts for the entire six months. Today I want to talk about these guest blog posts, blogger reviews and interviews and how intensely grateful I am to the bloggers who’ve helped me. Without them, there wouldn’t have been radio shows, newspaper and magazine articles, readings, or invites to conferences.

TRAFFICKED did not start out as a big book. It wasn’t a racehorse that was pounding ahead of all the other books even before its pub date (February 16). In fact, I’d say few people had heard about it in the month before it came out. If you looked online, truly, there was nothing. That TRAFFICKED has experienced any level of success is due mostly to amazing book bloggers who got behind the book and started talking about it.

For the month before TRAFFICKED came out, all I did was write guest posts for bloggers who generously hosted me.  Many of them also reviewed the book and continue to review the book, even six months later, which is unheard of. Conventional wisdom is if the book doesn’t take off in three months, it’s dead, but TRAFFICKED is the little engine that could.

TRAFFICKED is a little different from most books because it speaks to one of the most important issues of our day, modern-day slavery, an issue more and more people are learning about. As people become aware about the issue, they learn about the book. They go online. TRAFFICKED has received amazing reviews from all of the big reviewers for which I’m also very grateful. Every time one came out, I wept. The first one that came out was Kirkus. I was in the car at a stoplight when I started reading it. I had steeled myself not to care, but I burst into tears, I was so relieved. The light changed and I had to pull the car over. However, the reviews are not what you see online. If you type in TRAFFICKED and Kim Purcell into Google, you will find page after page of bloggers talking about the book or hosting me. They have spread the word to readers. Thank God.

Recently, an author threatened to publish a blacklist of bad bloggers on his blog. He was annoyed that bloggers hadn’t reviewed his book, even though he claimed they’d promised a review. Sadly, he didn’t talk once about all the amazing bloggers out there who are working their butts off – for free.

These bloggers are mostly students and they have jobs. I think back to when I was a university student and I can’t imagine running a successful blog. Every spare minute I wasn’t working or in classes, I was studying or working out. (I was on the rowing team.) I didn’t have a spare minute. When you consider all the books these bloggers read, the hours they must put in is incredible. I barely had time to read for pleasure in university and reading is my favorite thing to do, besides writing. The bloggers don’t just read; they write about the books. They aren’t doing this for free books, despite what that author said. You can get free books at the library. Come on, now. They are doing it because they love books and they want to help us authors, and for that, I’m awe-struck. They have to review the big books for their readers, but they also choose to review the smaller books, just because.

Thanks to all the bloggers for their reviews and blog posts, to all of the bloggers who have even mentioned TRAFFICKED on Twitter and to all the bloggers who will review TRAFFICKED or host me in the future. You are not only making a huge difference to the life of this little book, but you are also promoting awareness about a very serious issue which affects the lives of teenage girls around the world.