It's time to open our eyes

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Column by Becca Owsley

By Becca Owsley

I have come to the realization I live a somewhat selfish life. I open a refrigerator full of food and claim I have nothing to eat or open a closet full of clothes and whine that I have nothing to wear.

Most nights, I sit under the shelter and safety of a home and watch television only to complain about what I lack in life.

It dawns on me how selfish my life is when I realize while I have all this there are children in our country and around the world who have none of these things.

They are starving, while I push around the food in the fridge just to find what suits my tastes. They are hoping for one pair of shoes while I go through at least five pairs to see if it matches my outfit.

And while I am sheltered and safe, they look for a shelter to wait out the night and often don’t know what the word “safe” means as they are put through horrifying circumstances.

The reality is a wake-up call.

Children should not have to suffer from any of these things, but the thing I find most atrocious is what enslaves more than 2 million children — according to UNICEF — around the globe. That issue is the commercial sex trade.

It is one of the most sickening crimes in the world today, people buying and selling children for sexual purposes.

The saddest part is we tend to turn a blind eye to the situation. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. Or sometimes we refuse to believe there are people in the world that do this sort of thing to children. If we refuse to believe it’s true, then it’s not happening.

But it is happening. While it may seem like a problem that’s worlds away, it’s happening here in the United States. During this year’s Super Bowl, 16 children were rescued from a sex-trafficking ring in an FBI raid. That was in February in the U.S.

Just last month, 170 children were rescued in a nationwide FBI raid. It was the eighth raid this year and the FBI reported 3,600 children have been recovered from the streets.

From June 26 to Oct. 18, 2013, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Department of Community Based Services received 20 reports of 25 child victims of suspected human trafficking that ranged in age from 1 to 17 years old. Did you catch that last statistic? One of the reports was of a 1-year-old.

Nine of those reports were in the Salt River region, the 16-county area that includes Hardin County.

In our world, country, state and county, children are hungry, hurting and experiencing horrors no child should experience.

So what do we do about it? And I say that collectively to include myself.

Not everyone has the talent or stomach to deal with these issues first hand. It takes a special individual who can jump in and deal with some of these situations on a daily basis. Maybe some of you are that kind of person, but if we are honest, not everyone is.

But there are other ways to help.

One, stop ignoring it. If we are more aware of what’s going on, we can help make other people more aware of the problem.

Two, support an organization that is helping. Which organization is up to you. Research it carefully, make sure it’s on the up and up and matches with who you want to help and how you want to help them. There are plenty of groups out there, many working together to help children in dire situations.

It’s heartbreaking and horrifying to see what’s happening to so many children today. No one person can help them all, but we can each do our part to at least help a little. Sometimes a little can go a long way and a little is a whole lot more than nothing.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.