Sunday, October 23, 2011

Prevention and Restoration: Careers

As there can be a lot of crossover between the preventative side and the restorative side of abolition, I have combined the posts into one.  First note that for a lot of these careers you'll need further education. While God can and does use uneducated people, working with people who have experienced extreme trauma, like trafficking victims, usually requires special training. Here are some ideas of which training or degrees to pursue if you want to go further:

  • As a social worker you might work in the court system, with a non-profit, in the hospitals and schools, overseas, and have many other doors opened to you that would not otherwise be available. As an MSW you can also be certified in therapy so in the end it's like an MFT plus plus plus. As a social worker you can be involved in either the preventative or the restorative end of abolition; working with foster-care kids you'll encounter a variety of life stories and backgrounds.  In my non-expert, unprofessional opinion, an MSW is like gold in the fight against human trafficking. 
  • An MFT is a Master's degree in marriage and family counseling.  This is mainly helpful on the preventative side because the children most at-risk for being trafficked in the U.S. are abused children, those in the foster care system, and runaways.  
  • I don't know a ton about psychology, but I do believe you can have emphasis in different fields of psychology that will prepare you to specifically work with trafficked victims.   If it's something you've always been interested in anyway, then it's worth doing some research on.
  • I'm not a huge fan of pills and modern medicine (What did you say the side effects of that medication were?  And you still want me to take it??), however, if a person has been trafficked he or she may have acquired some chemical and mental imbalances due to emotional trauma, physical trauma, and/or forced substance abuse.  As a license psychologist you would be able to provide medical help for the whole-person-healing of a trafficked victim.
  • In my unprofessional, non-medical-person opinion, endocrinology is one of the most important medical fields in dealing with trauma victims.  Stress puts a lot of pressure on our endocrine system (our hormone regulating system, like our thyroid), and too much stress can make it begin to fail.  This is why stressed people begin to lose their hair or gain weight, etc., because their hormones are no longer balanced since their endocrine system cannot handle the stress.  A thyroid specialist I once spoke with said that 80% of the women who came to him on anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication had been misdiagnosed by a psychiatrist and actually had a thyroid imbalance.  I have personal friends and family who have had direct experience with this type of situation.  So considering the level of stress a trafficked victim has gone through, it is my belief that the field of endocrinology could be extremely helpful in restoring them to not just physical, but also emotional (hormonal) health. 
The Medical Field
  • Aside from psychiatry and endocrinology, other areas of the medical field can be beneficial to trafficked victims also.  Just use imagination!  A girl who has been trafficked for 5 years and was forced into drug usage probably has some dental issues she needs dealt with.  A boy trafficked for sex is gonna need good proctologist.  And E.R. doctors and nurses can be on the front lines of reporting incidents of human trafficking when prostitutes are brought in for various reasons.   The possibilities are endless - if your parents have always pushed you to go to med school, maybe it's time you started listening to their advice. 
Judiciary System
  • Straight up, our laws on human trafficking are not strong enough.  Though there are federal laws against human trafficking, most states prosecute under state law, which is often weaker than its federal counterpart.  In fact, there are 4 states in the U.S. that don't even have anti-trafficking laws in place.  We need lawmakers - lawyers and judges and governors and lobbysists - who will work toward more stringent laws for perpetrators and more lenient laws for victims.  Another need we have in the judiciary system is judges who understand the realities of human trafficking who will send prostitutes to recovery centers rather than to prison and give traffickers the harshest sentencing possible in order to keep them off the streets.   Though we try, our legal system is far from perfect.  Uncle Sam needs YOU to help make it better!
  • We all know who the PoPo are and generally have varying levels of fear, respect, or dislike for them.  No matter what your feelings toward the police may be, we need more people educated on the realities of human trafficking to sign up for the force.  In my opinion, two of the biggest issues that keep trafficking in place are piss poor laws and a police force uneducated on the realities of modern-day slavery.  The problem lies in our mentality: prostitutes are dirty girls doing a dirty job who need to be taken off the streets.  Reality: most prostitutes were lured into the trade when they were still underage by a pimp who threatened them, beat them, and tried to kill them if they tried to run away.  Though I don't have any link or stat to throw up here, I have heard countless stories about prostitutes being arrested over and over while their pimp sat in a car 10-feet away.  Why didn't he get arrested?  Why is it always the prostitute?  We need police on the force who are going to arrest the pimp and get the prostitute to a recovery home.
Your Job
  • What is it you do?  Accounting?  Data entry?  Construction?  To fight human trafficking we need people with ALL types of skills.  The person crunching the numbers at IJM is just as important as the field worker rescuing kids out of sex work.  Ministry cannot run without logistics, so rather than running off and obtaining a new degree so that you can work in abolition, first take a look at your own skills and think about how they can be plugged into what is already going on.  If there's a particular organization you're interested in, ask what their needs are and see where you fit.

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