“The Face of Human Trafficking:" A TED Talk Review


Whenever I hear stories surrounding the issue of human trafficking, I do my best to prepare myself for the worst. I’ve often been moved to tears after listening to a podcast or watching a video about a trafficking survivor’s experience, typically because the stories are commonly used as emotional appeal for the audience to understand the person’s trauma. I get so caught up in the emotional elements of the situation that I forget to pay any mind to informative clauses.

After viewing the TED Talk, “The Face of Human Trafficking,” which Megan Rheinschild, the Victim-Witness Assistance Program Director for the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office, I was surprised at how well her use of emotional appeal drove the audience to listen to the educational concerns of trafficking. It helped me think strongly about what any ordinary individual can do to prevent sexual abuse of minors.

Rheinschild, who has 20 years of experience as a victim advocate, shared the story of a survivor of sex trafficking for whom she once advocated. The victim was originally discovered in 2014 at a motel room after the Santa Barbara police found an advertisement for sex with underage girls. For years, this victim had been forced to perform sexual acts with random buyers until police were able to locate her, remove her from the situation, and arrest her perpetrator.

The victim had been found near a coffee shop Rheinschild frequented quite often. She realized how oblivious people become in their own environments and how easily trafficking disguises itself from the public eye. She mentioned the importance of becoming better educated about the lingo used in the trafficking world to help identify possible trafficking-related situations.   

The entire TED Talk took me through a whirlwind of emotions. I was immediately upset after hearing that the victim had first been sexually abused by a family friend as a young girl. It is an act of evil when children are preyed upon. To know that many female children who are victims of sexual assault also become victims of trafficking breaks my heart, but I liked that Rheinschild wasn’t shy about sharing this truth with the audience.

Approximately 300 thousand kids are trafficked on any given day.

Rheinschild also said that children as young as 12 have been recruited for sex trafficking and “approximately 300 thousand kids” are trafficked on any given day. Once trafficked, the average life expectancy for victims is a mere seven to ten years. If they survive, they face a high risk of homicide, suicide, addiction overdose, and disease. The survivor of Rheinschild’s story could have died before ever having the opportunity to testify against her trafficker in court.    

To encourage the audience to take part in minimizing such devastating statistics, Rheinschild mentions a few prevention techniques. She says we can all be a mentor, listen to children, and become an advocate. One of the programs she recommended joining was the Big Brother Big Sister mentoring program. I used to be a mentor for an elementary-school student there, yet never knew how my involvement could have prevented a student from becoming a victim. Rheinschild also reminds the audience to be attentive when a child uses us as a safe zone.

I encourage all Dressember blog readers, and my family and friends to watch this video to learn more about how we all can prevent stories like the one Rheinschild shared from ever happening.

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About the Author

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Danyella Wilder is a senior at California Baptist University studying Journalism and New Media with two minors in Public Relations and Global Justice. She's thrilled to work alongside Dressember in their advocacy to spread awareness about modern-day slavery. Danyella is also an admirer of travel, an online-shopping enthusiast, and she loves going to the beach just as long as she has a great book in hand.