Taking a Continued Stand against Human Trafficking

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Advocating as Adolescents: Human Trafficking 
by Da-Sol Kim

At a prayer vigil this April, Pope Francis told youth, “The world today needs young people…who feel a call, who feel that life offers them a mission. Young people who..are on the go. The world can change only if young people are on the go” [1].  The students of Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP)—as well as Catholic students all around California—understood his message intimately when we came together at Sacramento to lobby on March 28th. On Catholic Youth Advocacy Network (CYAN), students attempted to make a difference within our own communities, looking towards a step to the ideals of equality and justice.

MAP SACTO March 2017-99aCYAN was a day for students to advocate our own beliefs. Praying for peace and solutions to today’s issues, we first attended mass in solidarity with one another and with people around the world.  At the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, the students collaborated with one another during the workshops afterwards. MAP ran two of these.

This school year, MAP campaigned for four main issues: human trafficking, mental health, criminal justice reform, and immigration. In particular, the issues facing immigrants disheartened us. Knowing many fellow students and family members who were immigrants, we were compelled to advocate for them in a time of unrest. In honor of the immigrants who helped form the Archbishop Mitty High School community, Timothy Simka and Catherine Peterson at MAP created the “This is America” video project. During a stop motion video, we gathered pictures of immigrants in students’ ancestries, forming a map of the U.S. with their faces. Nine of us (Olivia Cunningham, Brandon Milliken, Jessica Olivera, Nichole Lim, Supna Kapoor, Jay Houston, Trisha Karani, Catherine, and Tim) showed this video to other students in a CYAN workshop, where we presented our work for immigration.

MAP SACTO March 2017-2aHuman trafficking was another issue we felt strongly about, as we have for over a decade. This year’s trip was especially exciting because of a new bill that would impact us greatly: AB-1227, the Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act. Sponsored by Assembly members Rob Bonta, Evan Low, and David Chiu, this bill would require school districts to teach students and faculty about the warning signs of sexual abuse and human trafficking. In addition, it would allocate funds to help child trafficking victims by providing services and intervening in trafficking cases [2]. Since the majority of victims are minors and teenagers like us, we saw this bill as an important step to preventing the erosion of our community’s moral standards. In an effort to explain the issue of human trafficking, Vedya Konda and I ran another workshop detailing this year’s bills on the issue.

In Sacramento, we met with seven local congressional representatives to ask for their support on a few bills. Over the course of two hours, we managed to talk to Assembly members Evan Low, Ash Kalra, Kansen Chu, Anna Caballero, Rob Bonta, Mark Berman, and Senator Bob Wieckowski.  A major highlight of our day was when Assembly members Evan Low, Ash Kalra, and Kansen Chu personally greeted us and listened to our stories. We discussed our beliefs personally with Assembly members Low and Kalra, who listened and supported us. As avid admirers of these representatives, we were thrilled. In an indelible moment, Assembly member Low even took a few of us to the House floor.

All of us at MAP hope that we made a difference on that day. We at CYAN sought to represent the young, non-voting population; in doing so, we united as a group seeking hope and dignity for all. As teenagers, we feel strongly about the rights and beliefs we were supporting; we seek to accomplish those ideals. In support of every human’s right to respect, we spoke out—not just as youths or Catholics, but as fellow human beings.

1. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2017/april/documents/papa-francesco_20170408_veglia-preparazione-gmg.html
2.https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1227&search_keywords=human+trafficking

MAP Presents on Human Trafficking

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Human Trafficking: Modern Slavery

By: Supna Kapoor & Arjan Warya

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          On Thursday, December 1st, four students from Mitty’s own Advocacy Project piled into a van and headed over to the San Jose Convention Center to meet with youth ministers from around the United States.  The reason for this gathering: a conference of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry for Human Trafficking.  The conference was led by Sister Marilyn Wilson of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and consisted of individuals from Archbishop Mitty, Notre Dame, and Bellarmine educating the incredibly diverse group of youth ministers about what Human Trafficking is, how they can educate the youths in their parishes, and the small things they can do to help this seemingly insurmountable issue.  

One of the main points covered by MAP at the conference was how people can utilize modern technology and social media to help prevent and spread awareness on Human Trafficking.  The conference was introduced to a list of apps, each one possessing its own unique feature that combats “Modern Slavery”.  One such app was TraffickCam, which promotes users to take pictures of their hotel rooms while traveling; these photos then get saved by TraffickCam to a database that the police can access when trying to identify the locations of trafficking victims who have been spotted in online ads (most commonly photographed in hotel rooms).  

Along with addressing how the social media platform can be translated into the fight against trafficking, MAP also advocated for the passing of a series of bills that would help to advance the legal front against this hot-button issue.  These bills protected the rights of rescued victims to refrain from testifying in court and increased legal punishment for those deemed guilty of taking part of the trafficking of a human being.

One of the last, and possibly most relevant issues addressed at the conference was the burning question of what we can do to help.  Human Trafficking is an incredibly complex and broad issue that cannot be overcome by one person alone; yet if we all do the best we can, we might just be able to make a difference.  Contrary to popular opinion, Human Trafficking is not just limited to third world countries and is in fact very active in the United States.  With that being said, one of the most influential (and honestly, fairly simple) things a person can do would be to support all suspicious behavior to a Human Trafficking Hotline.  Even though this may seem incredibly trivial on the grand scope of work that needs to be done to end Modern Slavery for good, one phone call could easily save a person’s life.

Next article:  MAP student Da-Sol Kim outlines solutions for what you can do to make a difference regarding Human Trafficking

THE RESULTS ARE IN!

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By: Brandon Milliken, Aditi Chatradhi, and Arjan Warya

Results

America has voted. Donald J. Trump is now on the road to the White House as the 45th President after his win over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, in what has become one of the greatest upsets in election history. When we take a step back and look into the numbers regarding this election, the factor that ultimately tipped the scales in Trump’s favor was education. CNN exit polls consisting of 24537 respondents revealed that 72% of white non-college educated men voted for Donald Trump, however, only 49% of white college educated men voted for him. Similarly, 62% of white non-college educated women voted Trump whereas among white college women, 51% voted for Clinton. These numbers revealed how in the white community, votes shifted more towards Hillary Clinton among educated voters but were very strong for Trump among non-college educated voters. Utilizing the votes of the non-college educated white community, Trump had some leeway to make up for Clinton’s strong support in the African American, Asian, and Latino communities. Regardless of ethnicity, the exit polls signified that those who were more educated with college and postgraduate degrees were more likely to vote Clinton rather than Trump. For instance, Wisconson, a major victory for Trump, followed this trend, with Dane county, which includes Madisona city Forbes named as one of the most educatedwas highly democratic with 71.4% voting for Hillary Clinton. However, in the rural parts of the state, Trump gathered enough support to win the state and its electoral votes. The trend continued in Pennsylvania where the counties with the three biggest cities, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown, had more votes casted for Hillary Clinton. As in Wisconsin, the rural vote carried Trump to win the twenty electoral votes from Pennsylvania.

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Along with that, state propositions, along with county bills, made headlines.  Prop 62, which would have repealed the death penalty, was voted against.  Its sister proposition, Prop 66, which would expedite death penalty cases, was voted for.  According to MAP’s views, along with the view of the Diocese of San Jose, this result is one we all have felt some remorse with the results.  However, for a measure closer to home, Measure A, which was the affordable housing act for Santa Clara county, passed.  Its passing would increase housing for the rising homelessness rate in the county.  As the cost of living becomes more challenging, Measure A helps those who struggle to find a home in our community.

In the next election, those of us who are still in high school will be voting. It’s important to keep in mind that it is not just the president of the United States that we are voting for. It’s also about the senators who represent us in Congress, our California State Senate and Assembly members who work on important issues that individual states face, propositions and measures that create major change in various areas, and our local officials who have a direct impact on our lives. Above all, it’s important that we are informed and aware about who and what we are voting for rather than simply reading headlines and scrolling through our social media feeds. Staying informed, and more importantly, clearly understanding the impact of who and what we vote for can help bring about the change that we, the people of America, deserve.

Reaction

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Across the nation, Trump’s victory over Clinton resulted in many people, specifically high school and college students, taking matters into their own hands through protests and demonstrations. One of the worst things that can occur in these events is crime of any sort, including vandalism and theft. Protests that result in crime will not lead to a change in the system. It’s important to exercise the right to freedom of speech, but it’s more impactful if those arguments are explained to the people who have the power to make governmental changes. In the Mitty Advocacy Project, we work to institute change through advocacy. Advocacy entails setting up a meeting with local assembly members or senate leaders to discuss bills and to ask for their support of the bill. By meeting with these powerful members of government, MAP expands its vision of aiding the common good. What makes advocacy so impactful is that it enables people to ensure government leaders act for the good of the people and it holds them accountable for their actions. Furthermore, to make change, exercise your right to vote and encourage others to do so. With this year being one of the most controversial elections, it was interesting to see a low voter turnout. Only 55.4% of eligible voters casted votes, a lower percent than the previous election where 60% of eligible voters voted. These votes have affected outcome of the election; therefore, it is important that in the next election, people go out and vote.

We may or may not be able to change the result of this election despite the dissatisfaction seen among many people, but advocating for specific issues that you are truly passionate about can and will stimulate and create lasting change in our society. Now that this election cycle has come to a close, don’t get discouraged if you feel that your vote didn’t count or you feel that your voice wasn’t heardit’s important to stay active and get involved in issues that you care about.

Catholic leaders pushing Proposition 62

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by Surabhi B. and Jennifer P., AMHS MAP students

With the fall general election coming up, it is important to
consider some of the pressing issues; one of them is the death
penalty. This is a government-sanctioned practice where a person is
put to death by the state as a punishment for crimes such as murder,
terrorism, and drug trafficking.
The need for the death penalty is something that has been heavily
debated for years, and the most recent propositions of legislation in
California, detailed in the November ballot, are major deciding
points. Proposition 62 removes the death penalty, while Proposition 66
conversely, facilitates and expedites the implementation of the death
penalty. Currently, the No on 66 movements has raised about $5.2
million more than the Yes on Prop 66 movement. No on 66 is working to
defeat Proposition 66 and approve Proposition 62. Every vote counts,
because if both propositions pass, the one with the higher amount of
“yes” votes will be enacted.
Prop 62 has many benefits over Prop 66, including great financial
savings. The California’s voter’s guide official argument states:
“Prop 62 will save $150 million per year. A death row sentence costs
18 times more than life in prison. Resources can be better spent on
education, public safety, and crime prevention that actually works.”
Morally speaking, A vote for prop 62 means less innocent lives are
lost. Since a convicted person is never surely 100% guilty, there is
the chance that the death penalty will be imposed upon a blameless
human. In addition, no life is ever worth death. Pope Francis, during
this Year of Mercy, hopes to remove the death penalty completely, and
has long voice these sentiments, saying “It is an offence to the
inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it
likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his
merciful justice.”

The Conference of Catholic Bishops has echoed
similar sentiment: “No matter how heinous the crime, if society can
protect itself without ending a human life, it should do so.”
Ultimately, our efforts should be focused on improving mental health
treatment and prison environment, reforms that can actually better the
individual and the society, rather than the unnecessary death penalty.
For more information, on the Diocese of San Jose’s stance on this
issue, you can check out their informative video (link:
http://www.dsj.org/blog/catholics-speak-true-justice-prop-62-prop-66/).

Measure A creates affordable housing

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By: Joshua Issacs and Arjan Warya

The Mitty Advocacy Project advocates for the passing of Measure A, given its benefits of the greater good.  Santa Clara County, while one of the wealthiest places in the country, also has one of the highest rates of homelessness: more than 7,000 people in Silicon Valley currently live without homes. Measure A is an initiative that, if passed, would allocate $950 million for the creation of housing in Santa Clara County: the equivalent of roughly 2,000 homes.

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Statistically speaking, the measure would implement a new tax on homeowners, adding $12.60 for every $100,000 you paid for your property.  The extremely menial addition to homeowner tax pays dividends in the amount of goodwill created for those inflicted by poverty, unemployment, and disability whose troubles are further intensified through unaffordable housing.

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Our ultimate goal is to improve the lives of those who need it. We firmly believe that this measure would do just that. The Diocese of San Jose shares similar sentiments regarding this bill, as the care of those inflicted with poverty and unfair circumstances deserve adequate care and support through God’s word and through our own actions. On the November 9th ballot, we encourage you to vote YES on Measure A.
For more information, log onto: http://yesonaffordablehousing.org

MAP’s Plan for the Year

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by Surabhi Bhupathi

MAP is back in full action, and we’re already hard at work. Last year, the Mitty Advocacy Project addressed the issues of human trafficking, criminal justice youth rehabilitation, the wealth gap, and the accountability of law enforcement.

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This year, we will be visiting some of the issues addressed before, such as human trafficking, and we have some new focuses as well, such as mental health issues. Our focus issues for this year are human trafficking, mental health awareness, medical care affordability, and criminal justice reform.

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Last year, MAP advocated for these issues in a number of ways; through the social media campaign to combat human trafficking (#stoptrafficking), partnering up with other schools, like Notre Dame, St. Francis, and many others to raise awareness, and lobbying for bills at both the state and federal level. Results of this endeavor include six bills signed to law to protect trafficking victims and crack down on traffickers, the California Restorative Justice Act, facilitating the restorative justice and rehabilitation for public safety.

Our hope for this year is to build upon this by raising public awareness, through volunteering in public initiatives that promote the issues we focus on, attending workshops, and publishing a research-based study. In addition to this, we will also be regularly updating our popular blog posts where we shed light on our issues and the progress we have made concerning them.

Through these efforts, we hope to succeed in making a difference to the community around us, as we have in years before.  

Stay tuned as we begin to report on the upcoming election.

Welcome Back to School!

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Welcome Back MAP Students to the first meeting of the year!  There are many exciting updates and plans for this year, but there’s time for that, just really glad we’re back and can’t wait to get things started.

Check out our internal site in the menu to the left, make sure you have access to it.  Its private for MAP members only.  Our meeting agenda are there and many other logistical links too.

– Mr. Accorsi

The Power of Advocacy

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by Aditi Chatradhi and Vedya Konda

“Let us pray for peace, and let us bring it about, starting in our own homes,” Pope Francis once stated. That day he proclaimed that we should spot the complicated puzzles in our own homes and communities and find a way to glue the pieces together. This caught our attention, the students of Archbishop Mitty High School and members of the Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP), and we knew that we had to find a way to solve the burning problems in our community.

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In preparation for our trip to the Capitol building to lobby for bills that we believed were extremely significant, we discussed four major issue in our society; human trafficking, the wage gap, criminal justice reform and housing. As we practiced our lobbying skills through mock legislative meetings and developed our understanding of the bills and issues through research, the team felt prepared for what was to come. Despite our preparation,however, we were still a bit nervous since it was the first legislative meeting for many of us. The juniors and seniors gave us inspiring and encouraging talks about their experiences, so our nerves transformed into eagerness.

Upon arriving at Sacramento, we first went to the cathedral across from the Capitol Building. After an enlightening mass preached by our own teacher, Mr. Herrera, Jacob Isaacs, the MAP president, delivered a magnificent manifesto detailing his own experiences with advocacy. Sophie Sharma then introduced the series of workshops where high school students from across California presented issues and bills that could help solve some major problems in our community. Austin Walsh and Aditi Chatradhi started it off by conducting a workshop about the wage gap. They gave a presentation and held an activity where they conveyed what the wage gap is and how it affects the entire population of America. Vedya Konda, Da Sol Kim, Catherine Peterson, Elizabeth Ericksen, and Brandon Milliken spoke about human trafficking and its impact on young people, how human trafficking rates had gone up in northern California due to the Super Bowl, and how young people can protect themselves and spread awareness about the issue.

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Fully prepared for the legislative meetings, we went to the Capitol Building for our first session. Splitting up into groups of three, we went to the offices of Jim Beall, Evan Low, and Kansen Chu to advocate for the issues we believed needed to be solved as soon as possible. The groups that finished early also had a chance to watch the assembly and senate meeting sessions in motion. Finally, wrapping up the trip, we took a quick tour of the Capitol building and traveled back home.

This trip has definitely reformed our perspective on politicians and what they do. Advocating for the wage gap and human trafficking bills in particular has brought us to realize that the legislative system is in fact working to create and enforce change for the better. To summarize, this youth advocacy trip has not only led us to learning about the legislative system, but it has led us to have a stronger faith in advocacy.

Staying Safe Online

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By: Arjan Warya (Junior)

It’s no surprise that our top focus is Human Trafficking this year with Santa Clara and the greater Bay Area hosting Super Bowl 50. Yet, as teenagers, one may ask how WE are affected. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life as teenagers, we really do not take in account how human trafficking could very easily engulf our life. Personally, as bad as it may sound, social media revolves around my entire life, whether it is Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. Now, you may be asking how you can ever fall in the trap of human trafficking through social media. Well, in reality, the possibilities are endless. Online safety is a major key in staying safe from potential traffickers.  By using these simple five steps listed below, you can ensure yourself to be safe from the malicious predators online.  [Source: Polaris Project’s Staying Safe Online]

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1) Privacy Settings

When posting on social networking sites, double check privacy settings and remove any geographical information, such as school name or city, or automatic GPS tags on photographs or photograph-based websites.

2) Discretion

When posting on social networking sites, be cautious not to provide unnecessary information regarding your daily activities or close friends and family.

3) Block Unknown People

Consider blocking suspicious followers, and ”Unfriending”/”Unfollowing” all of your people you don’t know.  Blocking a user from a social network site provides extra levels of privacy and security. Always consider that anything shared on a social networking site can eventually find its way to a suspicious follower and/or someone that might pass on this information, even innocently.

4) New Email/Usernames

Choose a gender neutral, non-specific username that is not similar to one you have used before. Don’t reference favorite hobbies or birthdates in your username, or anything that might alert a trafficker to your identity.  [i.e.  soccergirl13]

5) Delete Search/Browser History

Search engines track your online searches and this information can be accessed by others using the same computer. If you are concerned that your trafficker will see what you have been searching for online, is important to clear your search history after each session. Search engines track your online searches and this information can be accessed by others using the same computer. If you are concerned that a suspicious follower will see what you have been searching for online, is important to clear your search history after each session.

Essentially, human traffickers and predators online are looking for one main thing: information or something to hold against you. Traffickers use tactics of blackmail to harass and coerce their victims into doing whatever they please. It is very important to understand that we must take precautions online, before it is inevitably too late.

Make the smart choice to stay safe online to remain safe.  Stay tuned as we have more information coming out soon.  Please visit the Polaris Project and FBI’s website for more tips on tightening up your online identity.

 

Help Fight Human Trafficking

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As the Super Bowl nears, more than one million people are expected to come to the Bay Area for the festivities. Believe it or not, though, many of those people are brought here against their will. Whenever a major event comes to a metropolitan area, human trafficking in that area spikes.

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MAP President, Jacob Isaacs Speaking to student body

Over the past eight years students at Archbishop Mitty High School have taken on combatting Human Trafficking as part of their Mitty Advocacy Project. Over six bills have been signed into law to protect victims of trafficking and intensify laws against traffickers.

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Aditi Chatradi explaining to stay safe on line

Perhaps the most significant measure is through developing public awareness. It’s unfortunate, but traffickers are present an active in San Jose. By informing and discussing the issue, we can make Human Trafficking a thing of the past.

What can you do?

  • Visit www.slaverymap.org
  • Pick up Human Trafficking posters and signs from San Jose Police department
  • Start talking about it with your community, especially youth
  • Encourage and educate young people to be secure and proactive online
  • Write and visit your legislators to foster support for legislation against Human Trafficking.
  • Recognize the signs someone is being trafficked

Mitty Advocacy students  designed and filmed this investigative piece on Human Trafficking in San Jose. With the help of Human Trafficking Division San Jose Police Department we went out into the streets to see where Human Trafficking is happening in our city.

Article Edited by MAP Junior Sophie Sharma