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This Teacher Is Walking 500 Miles to Fight Human Trafficking

Oftentimes we shy away from the subject of human trafficking, or assume that it probably doesn’t happen much in the United States. In 2012, it was estimated that there were nearly 20.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide. Perhaps more shockingly, since 2007, “the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received reports of 22,191 sex trafficking cases inside the United States.”

Barry Jurgensen, a history teacher from Arlington High School in Nebraska, has been fighting to find a way to end human trafficking. Jurgensen, a member of the education committee for the Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force, is raising awareness for human trafficking by walking the 500 miles from Omaha to Scottsbluff. Along the way, Jurgensen will spread Walk Forever Free’s message to “educate Nebraska’s youth about slavery of past and present and to empower them to contribute to a global society by taking action against injustice through advocacy.”

Jurgensen is partnering with several different organizations based in Nebraska, like The Set Me Free Project, I’ve Got A Name, the Coalition on Human Trafficking, and the Central Nebraska Human Trafficking and Immigration Outreach. 

 Jurgensen said, “My message is the only way to fight human trafficking is a network of communities working together to prevent it and stop human trafficking from existing. It’s been around for hundreds of years; we just keep renaming it. I think it’s time for everyone to realize slavery is slavery, and we need to do something to stop it.”

This is the second time Jurgensen will be making this 500-mile journey. In 2016, the teacher raised more than $27,000 for Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, which is an abolitionist organization “dedicated to fighting human trafficking through education initiatives in schools and communities.”
Jurgensen believes that the key to getting people involved in raising awareness of human trafficking is to meet people and get the conversation started. He said, “The most beneficial thing is to meet people. Then, they introduce you to other people. You get dialogue started about the issue.”

Pretty Litter

Amber Sims, another teacher at Arlington High School in Nebraska who helped Jurgensen organize the campaign, said, “ I know last year when he was in Chicago, we felt a great sense of accomplishment with everything we did and we have a lot to be proud of, but we both said we weren’t done. I think today and the start of this walk is a testament to the fact that we’re not done and the work isn’t done and it won’t be done until slavery doesn’t exist anymore.”

Sims continued, “You can’t look elsewhere [to end human trafficking] until you try and do something here.”

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