“An Ounce of Prevention…”
Education is not a priority for many individuals and families living in the complex regions of the Golden Triangle and the Greater Mekong Subregion. Youth and beauty are seen as tools to be exploited for financial benefit nearly as equally as a person’s strength and ability to work long, arduous hours in field labour. However, education has consistently shown to be one of the most effective strategies in the battle to end human trafficking. Jones and colleagues (2007) report that “Economic development, with a special emphasis on women and girls, constitutes perhaps the best long-term approach to combating human trafficking”. Unfortunately, prevention programs like DEPDC/GMS’s Half Day School and SYSTERM (Shan Youth Safety Training to End Risk Migration) often struggle to secure financial support.
Many individual donors and foundations have discontinued backing prevention-based, education programs to shift their focus to victim care. Conversely, DEPDC/GMS operates on the concept that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Founder and Director of DEPDC/GMS, Sompop Jantraka, lives his life by the motto that “education is the key”. In her book, “In Our Backyard”, Nita Belles reports on a study conducted in the United States which found that there was a return of $34 for every dollar invested in early intervention programs for female youth. It is not a far stretch to believe that the results of this research could be reduplicated in nearly every country where human trafficking is prevalent today. Stopping the heinous crime of trafficking in persons should be our duty as fellow human beings. However, it is also in the best interest of each and every state and nation to invest in ending human trafficking for both financial and security related motives.
Take a moment to learn more about DEPDC/GMS’s prevention programs here, especially the Shan Youth Safety Training Program to End Risk Migration (SYSTERM), which is currently supporting 53 youth through an intensive leadership and safety training program in hopes of building the next generation of non-governmental organization and grassroot networks to prevent human trafficking and other forms of exploitation of migrants and ethnic minority groups from Shan State, Myanmar and across the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Kristin Moreau, MS, CCC-SLP
DEPDC/GMS International Volunteer/Coordinator