Southwinds

Red Light Rebellion invites South Mountain students to put an end to “modern day slavery”

Photo by Marissa De Santiago
Brandon Vales, a creator of Red Light Rebellion, visited South Mountain High School along with his wife to educate students about sex trafficking.

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On April 29, the creators of Red Light Rebellion, Brandon and Breanna Vales, visited South Mountain High School to bring awareness to students about sex trafficking.

The teenagers watched a presentation in the auditorium detailing the warning signs of a sex-trafficked victim. Behaviors included having an older boyfriend or “daddy” figure, owning expensive new items, signs of abuse, running away, fear, anxiety and depression. In regards to the perpetrator, a pimp will be someone who is vague about their job, is demanding about sex, and keeps someone from seeing their friends or family.

Students learned that sex trafficking is a problem that’s happening right in their own neighborhoods. One slide stated that 80% of youth sex trafficked in the United States are U.S. citizens.

“These numbers that we’re talking about, these statistics, they’re not just numbers. These are people. These are people that you know,” Brandon Vales said. “We came here not knowing any of you, but you guys aren’t just a number to us.  We believe every single person has an inherent value that can’t be compromised and is worth fighting for. That regardless of where you come from, what your story is, what someone did to you, or maybe even the decisions that you have made, that doesn’t take away your value.”

Brandon called for students to take action.

“Justice starts with us,” he said. “It doesn’t start with old guys in Congress. It doesn’t start with our parents or teachers. Yes, we need those people. We need those things in place, but justice starts with us and how we treat one another.”

Breanna wanted to clear some misconceptions that victims may have.

“If any of you have ever experienced abuse of any kind, I want you guys to know that it’s never your fault. That it’s always the fault of the person that abused you,” she said. “Your past does not define you, but it also does not determine your future.”

Breanna had one last message for the students.

“There is hope and healing beyond the messiness and the brokenness of our lives,” she said. “Even things as extreme as sex trafficking. I want to leave you guys with that hope to know that you do matter, that your story is worth telling, and you are worth fighting for.”

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Marissa De Santiago, Reporter

I am a senior at South Mountain High School and have been a reporter for the Southwinds newspaper for two years. I participate in Academic Decathlon, am...

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Red Light Rebellion invites South Mountain students to put an end to “modern day slavery”