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I was “inspired” yesterday to do a little research.  The Super Bowl is coming up this Sunday.  The Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos will rekindle their old AFC West rivalry.  My hope is that the game will be a repeat of the last time these two teams met in the post-season (a 31 – 7 Seattle win!).

..but I digress…

Yes, I was “inspired” to do a little research.  We’ve heard it every year in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.  It is the day with the highest number of domestic violence incidents of the year.  Thousands of women get beaten by their drunk spouses or boyfriends.  It is also the “highest human trafficking incident in the United States”.  Tens of thousands of women, as many as 100,000, get shipped to the Super Bowl host city to work the streets, limos and hotels.

Congressman are now sponsoring legislation.  Websites like Upworthy are posting videos.  Bloggers are taking to social media and swearing they will not watch the Super Bowl.

There’s even a new graphic going around:

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 8.58.51 AM

There’s one problem…

None of it is true.  That’s right; year after year after year, research and statistics have shown that neither one of these is true.  If you don’t want to believe me, then read Rachel Lloyd’s most recent post over at Huff Po (Click —>HERE<—).  Lloyd is the founder of GEMS – Girls Educational and Mentoring Services.  You can also read a 75 page report from the Global Alliance Against the Trafficking of Women (Click —>HERE<—). Both groups will tell you that the Super Bowl myth is essentially an outright lie.

So why are so many organizations, church groups, politicians and people perpetuating this lie?  Here are a few, in my opinion, depressing reasons (courtesy of the GAATW):

  • Its usefulness as a fundraising strategy – people give money to splashy sound bites;
  • Its effectiveness in grabbing the media and the public’s attention – which of course, comes back to increased fundraising;
  • Being a quick, easy way to be seen ‘doing something’ about trafficking – you get to beat your chest, put up a graphic, say “I’m not going to watch the Super Bowl!” and think you did something good;
  • Being a more socially acceptable guise for prostitution abolitionist agendas and anti-immigration agendas.

Now don’t get me wrong.  As the father of two girls, one of whom is more vulnerable than most, sex trafficking is one of my greatest fears.  But what pisses me off even more than the scumbags who take advantage of someone’s baby girl are the people who will prey on my fears with false statistics and outright lies in an attempt to scare me into donating money.  That way of spreading awareness may work in the short-term, but in the long run you simply end up with folks who will not believe anything you say, because your platform is built on a lie…and what does that do for future victims of the sex trade? Nothing.  In fact, probably worse than nothing because those of us who cared will have stopped listening.

I am left to believe that those inspired bloggers and organizations that push the above graphic are ultimately in it just for the attention and the dollars that will flow their way from those of us who get caught up in the hyperbole – it’s that or they are too lazy to actually do some research.  In either case, do you really want to trust your donations to groups like that?  If you truly want to help, contact GEMS or the GAATW to see what you can do.

And the next time you see a “statistic” like the above graphic, take the time to do a little research before passing it on.

And if you don’t want to watch the Super Bowl, then don’t watch it, but stop trying so hard to come up with a reason.  If you don’t like football, then it is totally socially acceptable not to watch the Super Bowl.

Oh, and no, the Super Bowl won’t kill you…it was just a headline to get your attention.

 

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