This Saturday, 17-year-old Sheridan Moore will make a presentation at the Lynnwood Sno-Isle Library to explain the realities of forced labor here and abroad, and offer ways that people can combat the practice. In the months to come, she hopes to make similar presentations at local schools and colleges, including Edmonds Community College.
A Girl Scout Ambassador from Lynnwood, she’s part of the Girl Scouts Service Unit 245, which includes Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Brier. Moore is raising awareness about labor trafficking to earn the Scouts’ Gold Award, its highest honor.
The information is for anyone but Moore especially aims her message at young people. “Labor trafficking occurs in hundreds of industries and businesses all over the world, including here in Snohomish County,” she said. “Nevertheless, many people know virtually nothing about it. There are several local anti-trafficking organizations which have awareness programs for middle and high school students, but none of these currently exist in Snohomish County.”
She first got interested in the issue back in middle school. Her interest deepened when, as a Running Start student attending Everett Community College, Moore took a class that explored labor trafficking.
“When people hear about this issue they mostly think about sex trafficking,” she said, “but labor trafficking is a separate and more prevalent issue.”
The industries tainted by trafficking include manual labor, construction, hotel work, agriculture, domestic service and nail salons, Moore explained. “People can get those jobs without much English or education,” she said, and can become vulnerable to predatory businesses. “In the U.S., trafficking affects mostly people from Latin America and several Asian countries.”
Her presentation offers in-depth information on labor trafficking and red flags to look for. She’ll also provide resources, including a brochure that covers the main points of her talk, how to get involved, and who to contact if labor trafficking is suspected, including the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888.
“It can be a overwhelming topic so I tell people to start with one thing in the beginning,” she said. “Choose a product you use a lot and research it, see where it comes from and who produces it.”
Reaching out to young people is particularly important to Moore. “It’s often hard for teens and young adults to know what they can do to combat large-scale human rights issues and I wanted to bring some awareness to that as well.”
The Gold Award requires projects to be sustainable, so before she completes her work, Moore will put together a group of facilitators to continue updating and presenting the materials she created.
Moore’s presentation is Saturday, Jan. 12, from 3-5 p.m. at the Lynnwood Library, 19200 44th Ave. W. For more information, Moore can be reached at [email protected].
— By Connie McDougall