I’ve never been able to stand by and watch while someone else was getting hurt and I think, in the end, this is what compelled me to write TRAFFICKED, and to keep writing it again and again until I got it right.
Let me say right off the bat that I don’t believe in violence as a solution to a problem; however, when I was in sixth grade, I got in a fistfight that changed my life. The problem started earlier in the day when a scrawny, red-haired friend of mine, Sarah, talked back to Katie, a freckle-faced tough girl in the other sixth grade class. Where I grew up, in a town in northern Canada, elementary school went up to seventh grade and fights after school were common. Katie had said she was going to fight Sarah after school, which really meant that Sarah’s face would be one bloody, swollen thing by the next day.
When the bell rang, we all ran out of the classroom. Fortunately, the other class had to stay late. Unfortunately, a chubby girl in our class, Rena, who actually wasn’t prone to fighting, decided to hold on to Sarah, so that she couldn’t get away. I begged Rena to let Sarah go, but she clung to Sarah’s arm while Sarah squirmed and tried to escape. Finally, Rena released her, just as the other class was getting out. Sarah sprinted off the school grounds, but Katie was close behind.
I was the third fastest runner in our grade (Sarah was second, Katie was first), so naturally, I ran after them. When I caught up, half down the next street, Katie was holding onto Sarah’s sleeve with one hand and punching her with the other. Sarah was clutching her face to avoid Katie’s blows. I was the only other kid. Words weren’t going to stop Katie at this point. I looked from Sarah to Katie, tightened my hand into a ball, and slammed Katie in the side of the head with my puny little fist. It was the first time I’d ever punched anyone.
I’ll never forget that look in Katie’s eyes, that look of shock and, yes, fear. I had defied her. Skinny, little, shy, wimpy me. I would not put up with her hurting someone else even if it meant that I would be hurt instead. She punched me back and this was my next surprise – it didn’t really hurt that much. We went at it a few times and then I saw a crowd of about thirty kids from school running down the street, a crowd which included some of the toughest kids. I grabbed Sarah, who was now tucked in a ball on the ground, and we ran down the street as fast as we could. Katie didn’t come after us.
This moment has defined my life in many ways because I learned, first of all, that I would not look away while someone else was being hurt, and second, that I was strong enough to stand up for what I believed in. When I heard that human trafficking existed right where I live, either out in plain view or hidden behind closed doors, I had to write about it.
We are all in charge of creating the world we want to live in. Human trafficking is one of the most serious issues of our time. My greatest hope is that some girl somewhere will read TRAFFICKED and this experience will warn her away from danger. I hope people everywhere will read this book and it will motivate them to look around their own communities for ways to help and inspire them to say, “Not on my watch.”
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Read our review of Trafficked here!
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