Senior Writes Open Letter to U. S. Senators

Danielle Lippert , Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

To the members of the U.S. Senate who voted “no” to the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Authorization Act of 2017:

My name is Danielle Lippert, and I’m a senior at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I grew up in a middle class family in a house in the shadows of Lambeau Field and was fortunate enough to go to Catholic schools since preschool. I live a very blessed life, and I thank God for all I have every day.

I’m lucky, but some people aren’t as lucky as I am. Kanani Titchen is a physician, and she did a Tedx Talk in February of 2017. She talked about the times she encountered patients who had been trafficked, but she hadn’t known so couldn’t do anything about it. Her first experience was in an operating room. The patient had waited a little too long to get the surgery. During the operation, they found dollar signs tattooed in her groin area. Titchen found it unusual, but she didn’t say anything. She didn’t do anything. She missed the two big signs: late presentation to medical care and tattoos. Titchen pointed out that “the eye doesn’t see what the mind doesn’t know.” How do we expect police officers and medical personnel to say something about trafficking when they aren’t getting information on it or aren’t being trained in how to handle it?

Titchen’s next experience occurred when she was a pediatric intern in labor and delivery. A young woman was brought in who delivered her baby on the street. The girl was very composed. Her makeup, hair and nails were done to perfection. Titchen noticed an unapproachable man in the corner of the room. She figured it was the father of the child, so she went to congratulate him. He stared her down, crossed his arms over his chest and didn’t say anything. Titchen went back to talking to the girl. She found out the girl received no prenatal care and had been having contractions for three to four days, but she said she had to go to work. She took painkillers and kept working. When Titchen asked her what job could prevent her from coming to the hospital to deliver her baby, she answered a receptionist and was rather uneasy about it. Titchen didn’t say anything to her. She didn’t try to get her alone. She left.

What Titchen said next really inspired me. She said, “It is not enough to see; we have to act.” If we don’t step in, who else will? It’s known as the bystander effect. When something happens and so many people know about it, we assume someone else will take care of it. Well, no one’s taking care of it. For me, it wasn’t enough to just sit back when I had all this knowledge, I had to tell someone about it. I had to talk, and when I started, I didn’t stop. I talked until everyone around me knew what was going on. I’ve written journalism pieces, I’ve been involved with two organizations against trafficking, and I’ve talked to everyone I know. I won’t stop until there’s progress.

When I found out about this bill waiting to be passed, I was ecstatic. I was even more excited when I found out the bill received the majority, and the motion was agreed to. Finally, people were going to get the training they needed, but when I found out that there were members that voted no, I was confused. This bill is revolutionary, and a definite step in the right direction. It’s going to make a change in how medical personnel and police officers see victims. They’ll know the signs, and they’ll know what they’re looking at or for.

There are 21 million people enslaved globally. There are 300,000 children at risk every year. Forty-five million dollars is spent per year in the United States for online sex trafficking alone. A pimp makes $200,000 per year on just one victim.

The numbers and the stories don’t lie. They are what is happening around the world at any given moment. Our children are at risk. We are at risk. In October of 2016, there were fifteen people arrested in the Green Bay area who were involved in a nationwide sex trafficking ring. They found a two-year-old boy being sex trafficked.

To others it may be easy to look past all of this. Everyone says the same thing, “It won’t happen to me.” We all assume it will never happen to us or the people we care about. They assume this isn’t as big of a problem as people think, but it is. It will continue to be until we do something about it. I won’t stop fighting until every single person who thinks this bill was a bad idea realizes how helpful it would be and how big of a step it would be. I won’t stop fighting until every person is truly free.

Thank you,

Danielle Lippert