BYU’s Anti-Human-Trafficking Club will host guest speaker Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart, to discuss matters of child trafficking on Friday, Nov. 16 in the JSB Auditorium at 7 p.m.
Smart, who is also the principal officer of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, will speak to BYU students and faculty to educate on the issues of child exploitation and how individuals can get involved to help stop child trafficking.
According to its website, the Elizabeth Smart Foundation was organized after the experience that led Elizabeth and the Smart family into the spotlight. Elizabeth was kidnapped at age 14, abused and later rescued nine months after she was held captive. The Smart family now dedicates their lives to empowering children victims, survivors and their families.
“There’s a recent movement to educate children on trafficking. People don’t know a lot about it,” said Naomi Mortensen, president of the Anti-Human-Trafficking Club.
Mortensen expressed her concern towards the lack of information and resources for victims of child trafficking and their families, and her desire to help raise awareness.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, since 2007, Utah has had 161 cases of high-level indicators of human trafficking and 189 cases of moderate level indicators of human trafficking.
“It’s not just an international issue. It’s happening right here. It’s happening in Provo,” Mortensen said.
The Elizabeth Smart Foundation posted on their website stating their vision of building a community willing to fight against the crimes done on children.
According to the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, “Our vision is to provide a place of hope, action, education, safety and prevention for children and their families wherever they may be, who may find themselves in similar situations as the Smarts, or who want to help others to avoid, recover, and ultimately thrive after they’ve been traumatized, violated, or hurt in any way.”
BYU’s Care Week allows clubs and organizations at BYU to raise money for a charity organization of their choice. This semester, the Anti-Human-Trafficking Club chose to partner with the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to achieve their purpose of educating students about the issues of modern slavery and provide opportunities to make meaningful contributions to end it.
“I always thought that human trafficking happened in foreign or third world countries, but I realized that there are people here in Utah that are trafficked every day,” said Spencer Vogel, vice president of Anti-Human-Trafficking Club. “Even people who are in completely normal situations are trafficked. And I realized I can do something to help fight against it.”
Vogel, who has been part of the club since 2017, said that the club meets weekly to converse over recent findings and statistics regarding human trafficking both globally and domestically and also participates in hands-on learning by supporting local organizations.
Mallori Fraser, a family life science major and member of the Anti-Human-Trafficking Club, was inspired to join the club after watching “The Abolitionists,” a documentary film by Darren Fletcher and Chet Thomas. The film highlights an individual, Former US Special Agent Tim Ballard and his efforts rescuing children from sex tourism.
“There are many people working to fight against sexual exploitation and it gives me hope,” Fraser said. “I’m excited to learn about the Elizabeth Smart Foundation and what the Smart family is doing for this cause.”