It's A Penalty: Teaching Tools That Keep Our Kids Safe

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With the upcoming Super Bowl 52, the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and a myriad of other large sporting events around the globe, you may find yourself gathered around the TV with friends and family (or alone if that’s how you roll), or if you’re one of the lucky few, you’ll have the opportunity to attend these events in person. Game faces on and snacks in hand, we will cheer on our teams and nations as the best athletes in the world face off against each other. Each time the world gathers for major sporting events like these, we witness surprising underdog champions, and young people giving their all. It can all be quite dazzling and easy to get caught up in the hype.

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This February, as we prepare to watch these sporting events, perhaps we will go into the experience from a more informed outlook, trying our best to be in the know about what is going on behind the scenes. In recent news, a group of young women, including several Team USA gymnasts, bravely testified in court about the sexual abuse by a team doctor that had been going on unaddressed for decades. Unfortunately, stories like these are not the only gut-wrenching events happening behind the scenes related to professional sporting events.

In recent years, the Super Bowl has made news for becoming a hub for human trafficking. While we recently debunked the myth that it is the largest trafficking event in the world, we were able to find a correlation between an uptick in sex ads and trafficking busts surrounding large sporting events like the Super Bowl. It’s not that the NFL is causing human trafficking. Simply put, any large event attracting that many tourists looking for entertainment to a major city is going to see spikes in human trafficking taking place. Luckily, there are people who are beginning to respond, aiming to see this statistic no longer ring true.

Since the 2014 World Cup, It’s a Penalty, an awareness organization, has made it their mission to turn large sporting events on their heads, “harnessing their power to prevent abuse, exploitation, and trafficking of children globally.” They aim to educate, encourage, and equip all people to know the signs of human trafficking and take action when the sense or see it taking place. On their website, you can learn more about the signs of child abuse, sexual exploitation, and trafficking, as well as how to report it.

"Any large event attracting that many tourists looking for entertainment to a major city is going to see spikes in human trafficking taking place."


As It’s a Penalty is expanding, their 2018 campaign will focus its efforts around four major sporting events: Super Bowl 52, the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in South Korea, the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, and the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong.

One of the ways they will educate the public about human trafficking during these events is by partnering with several airlines to show their campaign video inflight, as well as having articles in those airline magazines. If you are flying on British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Ethiopian Airlines, or Virgin Australia this year, be on the lookout for those materials.

It’s a Penalty is making great strides toward ending child exploitation and trafficking, but they cannot succeed alone, a community of global citizens who are willing to say “No, this isn’t right, our children don’t deserve this!” is needed to come around them in support. It’s a Penalty asks you to be involved in being informed, raising awareness about local organizations in your area who are fighting human trafficking, giving, fundraising, or sharing on social media. One simple action you can take today to help your community #knowthesigns is simply by sharing their page on social media, or in person with your friends and family (perhaps at your next sports party!).

It’s a Penalty is not pushing your to abstain and withdraw from these sporting events because of their ties with exploitation. These events, your family, and friends, need voices like yours to speak the truth and bring hope. These events are our platform, so let’s use them to our full advantage!

You can find out more about It's A Penalty by following the linked logo below.



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About the Author

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Reagan Swier enjoys fashion, food, travel, writing, and more. She believes that all of those passions (and your passions too!) can be used to advocate for social justice and create a better world for future generations. Currently, she is a Junior at a small university in Oregon, where she helps lead her school’s IJM (International Justice Mission) chapter. She enjoys the creative scene of the Portland area, which inspires her writing and feeds her passion for social entrepreneurship.