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Turning Point USA speaker discusses dangers of human trafficking

Speaker Jaco Booyens talks to students about human trafficking on April 11 in Pearce 127.

When director Jaco Booyens was filming his movie "8 Days," a movie based on human trafficking, his passion for bringing awareness to the dangers of human trafficking was solidified even further. 

Turning Point USA, a Registered Student Organization at Central Michigan University, hosted Booyens on April 11 to speak about human trafficking in the U.S. and what can be done to combat the problem. 

Charlotte junior Salicia Bayes, who organized the event, first saw Booyens at Turning Point USA’s "Young Women's Leadership Summit" and decided she wanted him to speak on CMU’s campus. 

“When I started this chapter, he was the number one speaker I wanted to bring in, even though he’s not (a) political (speaker) and we are a political organization,” Bayes said. “It’s important for people to know about this stuff and what the warning signs are and what to do.” 

The evening's discussion focused on sex trafficking involving minors. 

As Booyens spoke about this issue, he noted how 80-85 percent of females and 15-20 percent of males are being targeted for sex trafficking. 

With the average 12-year-old child being trafficked for $200,000-250,000, Booyens said that this is a "white collar crime" and often those who are buying the children face little punishment. 

“One of the biggest issues that peeves me is when there is a law and it’s not enforced,” Booyens said. “So we’ve come a long way in the past five years, because five years ago the laws were that these kids were criminals. Now there’s laws against buying sex from children, but the guys walk with a slap on the wrist. I want to go and see the laws at state level enforced against the buyers.”

One way Booyens said one way the country can fix this issue is by eliminating pornography. He talked about how the process of watching pornography can lead individuals in the wrong direction as someone can start with “soft porn,” which can eventually lead individuals to attempting to reenact violent acts depicted in some pornography. 

He said people can help those being trafficked by being a “watchman” of people they see in abusive situations.

For Midland freshman Stella Stark, this advice was the most important thing she took away from the event. 

“The most important thing to know is that if you don’t do anything, you’re a part of the problem," Stark said. "As individuals, it’s our job to take the initiative to help others that can’t help themselves."

Booyens advised attendees to be aware of their actions online and in-person to prevent them from being targeted by human trafficking.

“(I want attendees that came tonight to take away) that they can be responsible for their own safety by being responsible with their actions,” Booyens said. “To not allow yourself to become a target, because you can so quickly. You definitely have responsibility of your own body and your own situations and definitely how you present yourself to the world. I’m not talking just physically, but particularly online. If you present yourself as a target, you’re going to be a target.”