Posted Date: 01/24/2023
COPPERAS COVE, TX (January 23, 2023)—Nearly 80,000 students in Texas are victims of human trafficking according to the University of Texas at Austin. Three Copperas Cove High School students, Emily Kimball, Emilee Eden, and Charity Galiana, are determined that their classmates and students across Copperas Cove ISD will not become statistics.
The trio has taken charge of the issue by starting a campaign against child trafficking and founded the campus organization, Students Against Child Trafficking, as their competitive DECA project.
Kimball has been involved in human trafficking awareness campaigns in the past, putting up posters that contain the human trafficking hotline in local businesses, while volunteering with the Bell County Department of Human Services.
"We have seized the opportunity to educate our peers and our community on the dangers of child trafficking even further,” Kimball said. “Just by being informed on the warning signs and how to avoid situations of possibly being trafficked, the people in our community are safer.”
The DECA team shares awareness on the topic with school presentations including sharing information with school administrators to provide resources for them to talk with younger students about the warning signs that could lead to human trafficking.
“You would think that, with such a big issue, people would be more aware of how to protect themselves from predators. But unfortunately, they aren't. This is why we set out to inform both teachers and students within our community to ensure that they knew how to prevent themselves from being in these situations,” said Galiana who is the president of the newly formed CCHS SACT Chapter. “Having parents and students ask questions regarding our presentation really shows that what we are doing is effective and that people are interested in learning how to keep themselves and their students safe from human trafficking.”
One point the team clearly makes in its presentation is that Texas ranks number two in the country for the most reported cases of human trafficking due to nearly 20 percent of all trafficking victims in the U.S. traveling through Texas on the Interstate 10 corridor.
“The numbers of child trafficking cases are on the rise in our area and it's really important that we continually spread the awareness of this crime and this topic to people in our community but also people all around the state of Texas,” Eden said. “It is a big issue in our country and globally.”
According to the Center for Public Policy Studies, 77 percent of Texas law enforcement perceive human trafficking as rare or non-existent in their communities; 70 percent of state and local prosecutors did not see human trafficking as a problem in their jurisdictions; and seven percent of those surveyed hadn’t prosecuted a human trafficking case since 2000. Kimball, Eden, and Galiana say these statistics demonstrate a continued lack of awareness among key groups in the fight against human trafficking.
“It's rewarding to know that what we are doing is making a difference and possibly saving lives,” Kimball said.
The team competes on Saturday at the DECA District V Contest in Cedar Ridge where approximately 2,000 competitors are expected. An estimated 25 percent will advance to the state contest in March.