Last night when I came home from work, my roommate was watching an episode of Law and Order, which is in itself unusual. What was particularly interesting about this episode is that it was about the legal struggles and snafus that come with child slavery in the US. The episode covered a kid who had been "adopted" from Haiti, and was now implicated in a murder. Through a maze of legal issues, and lack of evidence, the episode ended with a sort of a "shrug, there's nothing we can do" attitude. Highlights from it can be found here.
Because I am interested in the ways that pop culture latches on to social issues (see the environment suddenly becoming trendy), I find it interesting that so many dramatic portrayals of child trafficking in popular culture result in that sort of "shrug" attitude, as though there is nothing we can do because the problem is simply too huge.
But there are things we can do, even if we are not lawyers or detectives in New York City. For one thing, we can stop supporting those areas of popular culture that portray child trafficking as "funny."
People do this? Yes, there are some who see modern day slavery and people being trafficked into the US as a source of humor. For example, the popular, Emmy-nominated TV show, Family Guy, features a spot of humor with Quagmire, the resident pervert of the show. He leaves his house unguarded for some reason, and we're shown a bunch of Chinese women sneaking off the property and running away, a clear reference to trafficking. What is disheartening is that this is supposed to be funny.
So what can we do? As imbibers of the pop culture, as the ones pop culture is directed at, we can let the companies that produce these shows know that we will not tolerate such a cavalier attitude toward such a real issues by writing letters, boycotts, protests, what have you. The point is that companies respond if they see bad press or a poor revenue stream. We do have the power to change things.