Sex trafficking is a real problem facing many Americans. We see it portrayed as a problem that Liam Neeson can solve and dark-skinned foreigners create, but in reality it’s far more of a local issue than any action movie will lead you to believe. Luckily we don’t need Neesons to crack skulls to save young people from sex traffickers. We have a new crew of flight attendants that are being trained to see the signs of a person being trafficked and take the appropriate actions to save that person.
Shelia Frederick was that hero on an Alaskan Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco. Frederick spotted a teenaged girl looking despondent, greasy-haired, and “like she had been through pure hell.” That’s when her training kicked in. Frederick approached the well-dressed older man the girl was traveling with and told him she has a very particular set of skills attempted to strike up a conversation. The older man recoiled defensively.
Frederick was able to tell the young girl “under her breath” to go to the lavatory. Inside, Frederick left a post it asking if the girl was in trouble. The distraught girl wrote on the back that she needed help. And that was enough for Frederick to notify the pilot and have police waiting on the runway at SFO.
Frederick is being praised for saving one young girl from sex slavery. She was able to do this because of a very important and special set of skills she received at Airline Ambassadors International. This program is taking flight attendants on a volunteer basis to train them to detect the human trafficking happening on our airplanes every day. This problem is huge as well, there were 2,000 arrests of human traffickers just last year.
That’s five-and-a-half traffickers a day being caught.
Airline Ambassadors in lobbying congress now to make sex trafficking training mandatory for all flight attendants nationwide. And with sex slavery possibly in the hundreds of thousands in the USA and with a 35.7 percent rise in trafficking last year alone, it seems like a pretty necessary step so we can fight slavery on the front lines.