Lauren Baney organizes concert to bring awareness to human trafficking
By Beth Taylor
Two years ago, a friend asked Lauren Baney, then a freshman at Ball State University, to join her in attending a presentation by guest speaker, Greg Darley from the International Justice Mission; she casually agreed. The topic of the presentation was human trafficking. The broad term is defined as modern day slavery and includes forced labor, organ harvesting, child slavery and sex trafficking. She was horrified by what she had learned.
After the presentation, Lauren remembers not being able to sleep and calling her mom around 2 a.m. just to talk. Both Lauren and her mom, Cindy, have learned more about the topic together, sharing books and resources and a growing interest in helping those who cannot speak for themselves.
“The more I learned and talked to people about human trafficking, I realized that they didn’t know it really existed,” said Lauren. “The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do something in Hamilton County.”
Lauren learned that predators and pimps prey on vulnerabilities, and many target children through social media. “A common thread is often that these girls are neglected, but not always; it’s based on love hunger,” said Cindy Baney, a Carmel Elementary school teacher. “About 80% of those taken into sex trafficking are girls.”
Lauren works as a counselor at Camp Tecumseh during the summer. “I work with girls between ages 12-14, so I see a lot of just how vulnerable girls this age can be,” she said. “I think social media contributes to lower self-esteem, which makes girls feel badly about themselves,” she said.
Lauren learned about the grooming process that tricks girls into feeling loved. “A pimp may say all of things the girl wants to hear and buy her clothes and feed her and before you know it, she’s gone,” Lauren said. They often take the girls to another state and change their appearance. “I’ve read a statistic that within 48 hours of running away, a girl is approached by a pimp.”
Lauren’s faith lead her to take action. “I remember thinking that people need to know about this—so many people haven’t heard of this, especially in Hamilton County, where we’re in our own little bubble, “said Lauren Baney. “We all grew up singing in my family—so I thought, ‘I can create a concert.’”
Lauren created A Better Tomorrow: Hope for Human Trafficking concert to entertain and educate. The second annual concert was held on March 8 at Cumberland Road Christian Church. Approximately 250 people attended the free program, which featured two bands with local ties, ANONAMUS and 3union. Lauren also wrote and performed original music and her family members sang. A mother from Carmel whose daughter was a victim of human trafficking shared her story, and an undercover police officer who works to find human trafficking cases in Indianapolis how difficult it is to find the victims.
The interactive fair included posters and presentations. Six local justice organizations contributed booths to distribute information, and Lauren sold t-shirts, bumper stickers and tote bags to help bring awareness to the cause.
Lauren plans to keep expanding her efforts to inform people about the atrocity that affects an estimated 30 million people worldwide. “We live right next to park, and I thought about how cool it would be to do a festival in a park,” she said. “And it’s within the scope for us to have a safe house (for local victims). There’s not a lot of places for them to go and some come from such broken homes,” she said.
About Lauren Baney
Education: Ball State University Junior
Major: Health Science major
I chose health because I want to help people live their lives to the fullest potential in a healthy way. So anyway I can do that will fit in the dream job category.
Favorite quote: God and the people you were born to BLESS are waiting for you to DREAM. Don´t let the devil stop you. DREAM ON, my friend. DREAM ON! – Kenneth Copeland.
Five facts about human trafficking
- Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.
- Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.
- According to some estimates, approximately 80 percent of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19 percent involves labor exploitation.
- There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
- According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, of which 80 percent are female and half are children. For more information, go to www.dosomething.org