Preventing Human Trafficking Through Self Esteem

Preventing Human Trafficking Through Self Esteem

Why is self-esteem so important?  There are many reasons, and this post will highlight one of them, human trafficking.

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion against a human being (man, woman or child) to exploit them.  It is a $150 billion global industry (although it exists in every community, even your own) and is a growing crime.  In terms of profits, it has surpassed the selling of illegal weapons and is expected to surpass the illegal drug trade. Gangs and other criminals (perpetrators are men, women and young adults) are increasingly using human trafficking as a means to make money.

What does this have to do with self-esteem you might ask?  Well, a lot.  Here is an example.  A man walks around the mall to recruit young girls to work for him.  He knows the best candidates are the girls who need reassurance they are pretty and loved.  If he walks up to a young girl and tells her she is pretty, he can tell by her reaction if she is a good fit.

If the girl drops her head in shame or comments that she is not pretty, chances are she has low self-esteem.  It will be easy for him to convince her through coercion to come with him.  All he has to do is talk up to her about how pretty she is, how he will buy her new clothes, get her hair and nails done and this will make her feel good and more inclined to go with him.

If she looks at him, says thank you and walks away, then that is not someone he is going to want to recruit; she doesn’t need him or his compliments.  Someone with confidence and high self-esteem feels good about themself, respects and loves themself for who they are and values their own opinion of themself, not someone else’s.

Unfortunately, the girls who go with this man are unaware of his intentions, they like the attention.  At first he may treat her well and set up the situation so she feels he has done a lot for her.  Then one day he may ask her to do something in return.  And this something may not be what the girl wants to do, but she does it because she feels she owes him and she has little respect for herself.  He controls her and she is now faced with a situation she has no idea how to escape.  She may be physically threatened and/or mentally threatened by him to a point where she is trapped and has no hope of escaping the nightmare she is now lives.

Learn to love, value and respect yourself for who you are, it might one day save your life.

Virginia Zart, President-Elect Junior League of Long Beach

Especially Me!

Studies indicate that up to 62% of girls are insecure about themselves. As many as seven in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way. The Junior League of Long Beach is pleased to announce our upcoming Especially Me! event dedicated to addressing these very issues.

Our 2015 event was a HUGE success, with rave reviews from the fifth grade girls in attendance, and there was a waiting list for additional girls who wanted to attend. Especially Me! is designed to teach girls the skills they need to be happy and confident, to make good decisions, to be assertive, to express themselves, and to have a strong sense of self. The goal of the course is to instill the idea in each girl that she is unique and special and that she can take control of her own life. Topics covered include self-esteem, body awareness, puberty, nutrition, positive body image, mass media misrepresentations, decision-making, assertiveness, and goal setting.

The Junior League of Long Beach is an organization of women volunteers dedicated to issues that affect the children of our community. We have organized seven Especially Me! courses during the last four school years, and the positive feedback from the girls and the participating schools indicates that there is a strong need for programs such as this.

 Maria, an Especially Me! participant said, “I think this class is great. I have very low self-esteem. I’ve always thought I was ugly. I’ve always thought I was fat and never ‘perfect.’ It was never easy, especially when my mom and dad said I had bad skin and I was ugly. That always brought me down. I can start building my self esteem again.”

 Trained Junior League members facilitate the sessions, which are taught in an interactive format. The girls attend the course by themselves, as we have found they are sometimes more comfortable discussing sensitive issues outside the presence of their parents or guardians. In addition, we are happy to answer questions or provide additional information regarding the content of the classes at any time.

 This year, Especially Me! will take place on January 30, 2016, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Washington Middle School, 1450 Cedar Ave., Long Beach. Enclosed you will find a flyer and consent form.

 In order for the girls to be registered for the course, please email or mail dated and signed parent permission slips, the child’s name and school to the contact below by January 15th. You are welcome to scan the permission slips/releases and email them back to us instead. We will accept girls on a first come, first served basis until all of our 100 spaces are full. Once the consent form has been received, you will receive a confirmation letter that will include more information on drop off, pick up, and other logistics.

 If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email us at or contact us by phone at 562-989-6400.