Sex trafficking nationally

 

Minnesota is such a quiet place no one would think something like sex trafficking would be going on. It is known for teens to do risky things in the bathroom at malls and movies in Minnesota. But no one really knows if they’re forced to interact in these sexual encounters. There was a total of 28 victims forced into human sex trafficking last year during the “Final Four” in March of 2019, also sex trafficking is huge during the Super Bowl, which Minnesota hosted not that long ago. 

All 28 of those victims were rescued, including one minor, and there was a total of 58 men and women that were arrested for these crimes.

But this isn’t only happening in Minnesota, it’s a worldwide problem. Over 20.9 million are victims of human trafficking globally. This is occurring everyday and is ruining little girls and women’s lives. 

The average age of when a sex trafficking victim is first sold is 13years old. The ages go up to as high as 30 years old. One pimp of who was a sex trafficker, but ultimately was caught said, “The goal is to get the girls as dependent as possible. Mentally you’ve gotta burn into their brains you’re the only one…You’re god. Once you’ve got that down and they’re ready to work…Then you instal the fear…The wrath of god. If they mess up, there’s a price to pay, and they know it’s a heavy price.”

Most everyone knows about sex trafficking from what they see and hear in movies and the news but no one has ever sat down to actually listen to the victims instead of interviewing them to get famous off their stories.

So, as we conducted research, we went around to the students of Highland Park Senior High School and asked their opinions on the topic. We interviewed multiple students but only a few of these students’ opinions really stood out. The same two questions were asked: “How do you feel about human sex trafficking?” and “What are your emotions towards the victims that go through sex trafficking?”. 

Jerry Flores a sophomore attending Highland Park Senior High said, “Well sex trafficking is a controversial topic and isn’t well thought out or more of the less thought of. I feel that there should be more laws about how to compensate these families when going through these type of experiences.” 

Brianna Avalos said, “It has messed up young girls’ lives because they don’t experience things that everybody else does because of it.” She also said. “It makes me feel bad because they have to go through it everyday and they don’t have a normal lifestyle that a normal person would have.”

Another Highland Park student said, “The authorities need to do a better job regulating it.”

We then asked our parents about sex trafficking and here’s what they had to say:

“It’s horrible and they need to have a specific force team for just sex trafficking.”

“I feel that this kind of thing happens almost everyday and for these young girls to go through something like that it’s really really sad. I feel that the police should do more to stop the creeps and pedophiles who use these young girls for their bodies.”

According to the U.N.-backed International Labor Organization (ILO) globally, it is estimated that up to 40 million people today are affected by this industry. In 2019 alone, per the Institute for Sport and Social Justice’s “Shut Out Trafficking” program, there were 2,907 individuals arrested, suspected or charged with human trafficking activities in the United States. More than 400 people over 18 years of age were rescued from being trafficked and nearly 115 children under age 18 were freed. There were 83 new laws passed and 483 community-based initiatives to fight human trafficking.

There are plenty of groups and organizations working and helping the police in different states to stop this crime from happening. So, if you, or anyone, are in need of help please don’t hesitate to call the National Trafficking Hotline at: 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to Polaris Project’s BeFree Textline at 233733. And please take the information provided to you and spread the word; it’ll help a lot of kids and women. 

‘Simcity Build It’™️

I’d like to talk about an app that has taught me, and other kids, about the world we live in and how our society works in real life. The app is called Simcity Build It.

In this app, you can start on a blank land. With each level you increase your population. To do that, you have to build their homes. To do that, you also have to collect the materials for building the homes.

When you get to a certain level you have to provide safety (police, fire people, etc.) and health care. If you don’t have the money to build the fire stations, police stations, water pumping stations, sewage disposals and government buildings your population will go down, and people will abandon their homes.

This game has taught me and many others how cities work. 

Many of my friends play this game as well. I asked them questions so I could see how much they have invested in this game, and how much they have learned from this game. I also asked them about how their cities are doing.

The first person I interviewed was my good friend Ella Ramirez. When I asked how much time she had invested she said, “Two hours a day.” She also mentioned how she has been on the app for 5 months in total.

I also asked her things she has learned about the game and she said, “When not enough is provided for the people they get upset and leave.” She also added, “The bigger the city the more the pollution, and the quality of the city goes down.”

A more personal question I asked was “How was your city doing?” and she said “It’s doing really well. I’m really happy with the way it is functioning. I’m also really happy with the design it is in at the moment. It is formatted into different sections of areas of more calmness and more business giving the Sims different options based on the building they are living in. They are also arranged based on the height, the taller and fancier buildings are in the more busy area while the smaller and more tranquil buildings are in the calmer area.”

That concludes my interview with Ella Ramirez.

Screenshot of Olivia’s Sim City

I also asked my teacher Mrs. Kallestad, about the game and what she thinks about students using the game.

When I asked her about her opinions, it seemed like she was very curious about it. She was curious about how the cities work and also seemed to be very interested in the people behind the game and how they managed their cities.

She was also very interested about the names of people’s cities, as some are not appropriate for kids.

Another topic that Mrs. Kallestad was sort of heated up on was the fact that a big city was equal to a successful city, another player and I were telling her that that was the whole point.

That concludes my interview with Mrs. Kallestad. 

Overall, most people seem to be interested in the game but have very different opinions because Mrs. Kallestad doesn’t seem to like the game very much. This is probably because it distracts her students, but Ella, as a player, sees the game in a different perspective in an educational point of view.

Should schools require vaccinations without religious or philosophical exemption?

Little child have a vaccination shot in studio. Image taken from: https://thrivingschools.kaiserpermanente.org/5-reasons-to-get-kids-vaccinated/

In Minnesota, vaccinations are required by law before enrolling your child in school, whether it be public school or private school. However, it is legal for people to get a religious or philosophical exemption from getting their vaccinations. Should such a thing be allowed if it puts other people’s and children’s health at risk? 

Parents choose not to vaccinate their children for a number of reasons. While in general, there are no restrictions on vaccinations in any major religions according to History of Vaccines.org, there are a few smaller denominations of religions that do, such as Christian Scientists or the Dutch Reformed Church, denominations of the Christian church. There is also a number of muslim people who claim that they cannot use vaccines made from pork (gelatin), as it is against Islam to consume pork, but the refusal of vaccines is not agreed upon throughout the whole religion. Additionally, both of these religions support the morals behind vaccines, them being to prevent children (and adults) from suffering. 

So, it’s a very controversial topic even within one religion. Can the excuse that vaccines are against one’s religion be used even if it is unclear whether the religion as a whole opposes this idea or not?

Another reason parents do not vaccinate their children is the fear of vaccines, specifically the vaccine for mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR), possibly causing autism. According to historyofvaccines.org this is most often thought to be because the rate of a child born with autism is increasing while we are getting more advanced medically and using more vaccinations to defend against diseases. Not only that, but the spread of misinformation in the media and in person can be a great reinforcer of this idea.

According to ncbi.gov, widespread exemption from vaccines undermines the benefits of herd immunity. Herd immunity is when a large group of a population has a strong resistance to a type of disease. This helps not only people but also people with weaker immune systems such as babies or young children.

Parents who don’t vaccinate their children contribute to outbreaks of diseases that could have been preventable by vaccines, such as measles or whooping cough, according to the University of Michigan Health Lab. It keeps these diseases alive. For example, according to The Hospitalist, measles, which the USA had been declared clean of by the CDC, has started to make a comeback because people refuse to vaccinate either themselves or their children. 

The graph below, which can be found on the CDC website, shows the number of measles cases recorded in each year. 

As you can see, between the years 2015 and 2017 the number of measles cases were generally small, staying in the low hundred. However in 2018 there was a spike in outbreaks which brought the numbers up to 375 and even higher in 2019 at 1282 cases.

This brings us to the million dollar question. Should vaccines be completely required for every student, regardless of religious or philosophical beliefs?

The practical answer would be yes. They prevent diseases that could be fatal amongst children and without them these preventable diseases keep coming back. Thus, without question, requiring vaccines would turn out for the better.

However, would we be violating the religous freedom of those who are against vaccines? Religious freedom is an incredibly important part of what makes our country so diverse and something we have fought so very hard to keep.

The real question is does it matter what the religious or philosophical beliefs of one person is when it comes to the well-being of all the children around them?

Lil Wayne: ‘Funeral’

Lil Wayne’s album Funeral came out January 31st after it was first announced in 2016. If you flip the cover upside down it cleverly also spells Lil Wayne. The album is a continuation of his 2010 album Rebirth. Funeral is Lil Wayne’s fifth album to go number one on the charts. It has many featured artists including names such as Adam Levine, 2 Chainz, and XXXTentacion.

“I Do It” was the only single released from the album. Funeral has 24 tracks and the album as a whole takes an hour and sixteen minutes to listen through. Plus, with ten features it’s no wonder why the album feels bloated.

It starts off strong with its title track which starts off somber and slow, but starts to pick up speed near the end. The four tracks after it are well crafted and sound like classic Lil Wayne.

However, track six, “Stop Playin With Me,” marks the beginning of a very poor middle. The tracks all have similar beats, and while they each have some good quality to them, they don’t feel unique.

The Adam Levine feature is poor, and it feels like the other artists featured on the album are not fully utilized or just don’t seem to fit on the song or album. 

I personally had a hard time getting through the middle slog because the songs didn’t offer much for me to grab onto. I was writing my passing thoughts on the songs while I was listening and, while the first few tracks I had a good amount of notes for, I really couldn’t find anything memorable in most of the songs after.

The album does have a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant ,who died in a helicopter crash just five days before the release of Funeral. In the song, Lil Wayne and Jay Rock rap about achieving king status in the game just like Kobe with basketball. It ends with 24 seconds of silence. 

Funeral was given mixed reviews. Some critics felt it was too long and unoriginal while others thought it was decent, but certainly not the best. It’s something that fans of Lil Wayne will enjoy, but not an album that will catch your attention if you’re not already familiar with him. 

It seems like the album doesn’t really know what it’s doing. It throws everything out there, but only a few songs are strong enough to stick. It’s a good album, just not cohesive enough, and it offers very little.

Would I recommend this album? Well, yes, if you’re a Lil Wayne fan or big into rap, but if you’re just looking for something to casually bop to or an intro to Wayne’s music then this album probably isn’t the direction to go. It certainly doesn’t live up to his older classics.