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< Rob Morris

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Alec Baldwin: I’m Alec Baldwin and Here’s The Thing.

Child sex trafficking has been called the ugliest preventable man-made disaster in the world.  Over a million children are sold each year as sex slaves into an industry that is said to be worth billions of dollars.

Sex trafficking over all is one of the most lucrative crimes on earth, second only to the global drug trade.

The numbers are horrific.  But sometimes numbers that size have a way of obscuring the greater horror. Behind each number is a person, a victim, whose individual story is ghastly. 

New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof recently told the story of Srey Pov, a Cambodian girl, was sold by her mother to a brothel.  Her virginity went to the highest bidder. She was six years old. For the following three years, she was forced to have sex with up to 20 men a day. 

Stories like Srey Pov’s aren’t limited to South East Asia.  They happen in Africa, Europe -- and right here in the United States.

My guest, Rob Morris, works to protect young people like Srey Pov around the world. 

Rob is president and co-founder of Love 146, an organization that fights to prevent child sex slavery and provide aftercare for its victims.

Rob has been doing humanitarian work most of his life, but ten years ago, when a musician friend of his said his band wanted to take on the issue of child sex trafficking, Rob was oblivious.

Rob Morris: I had honestly never heard of child trafficking before and then started looking at it ...

Alec Baldwin: You had never heard of it at all? 

Rob Morris: I had never heard of it.  I was given the impression that slavery had ended with something we call the emancipation proclamation, but the reality is it hasn’t.

Alec Baldwin: Not long after that initial conversation, Rob and his friend took an exploratory trip to Southeast Asia to see how they could help with the issue. They were given about an hour of training before they entered a brothel pretending to be johns -- men who wanted to purchase young girls for sex. 

Rob Morris: It was the most disturbing experience of my life. ‘Cause here I am, having to learning how to pose as the very thing that everything in me is completely and utterly repulsed by.  As a human being, as a father, as a man. And I remember them saying, look if you don’t think you can hold it together, if you’re gonna freak out when you see what you’re gonna see, don’t go in because we can’t risk an investigation being taken down because of your reaction.  We’re brought into a room and we’re looking through these glass windows, they call it a fish bowl, at young girls.  And they were sitting watching children’s cartoons on television sets.  And they had the dignity of a name taken from them.  They just had numbers pinned to their dresses.  And on this side of the glass we were shoulder to shoulder with what I would describe as predators, who were purchasing these kids for sex.

Alec Baldwin: We’re they predominately – what was their –

Rob Morris: This was a brothel that catered particularly to Westerners.  They looked like anybody.

Alec Baldwin: Could you tell language-wise where they was from?

Rob Morris: Probably Americans, Europeans.  The latest stats that I’ve read – they say that about 25 percent of sex tourists are American men. I’m hearing the voice of this investigator in my head who said, if you don’t think you can hold it together, because everything in me instinctively wants to smash through the glass and get as many of these kids out of there and we couldn’t do it because there was an investigation taking place that they had to get enough evidence together.

Alec Baldwin: That you would disrupt.

Rob Morris: Exactly.  So it was incredibly disturbing.  And the thing that so shook me was the looks in the eyes of the kids. There was nothing left there, man.  They were so emotionally shut down, no life in their eyes, except for one kid; must have been new the brothel because there was still a fight left in her eyes.  She was the only one that was not looking at the children’s cartoons.  She was staring at us through the glass. Never forget those eyes.

Alec Baldwin:  Defiant would you say?

Rob Morris: Oh there was a fight.  I have not given up yet.  Her number was 146.  That was just sort of emblazoned there in our brains.  And so yeah, so that’s who we fight for.  And she represents to us –

Alec Baldwin: And you named the organization, Love 146.

Rob Morris: We actually named the organization at that time, Justice for Children International and then after a few years, we changed the name partly because – and Mother Theresa used to say this and she said it so well.  She said, "If I didn’t pick up the one off the Streets of Calcutta, I never would have picked up the 40,000." And so when we look at the stats, the numbers and we throw these things out there, there’s a dehumanizing that takes place.  We forget that this is not about an issue; it’s not about a cause.  This is about somebody's daughter.  This is about somebody’s son, little boy, little girl.  And sometimes we get just sucked into the stats and we’re throwing these things around like we’re not talking about human beings.  And so that’s why even renaming the organization, it’s a reminder to us that this is about a girl, this is about a child, this is about all those children that she represents. 

Alec Baldwin: Is there something about the culture in Southeast Asia and in other parts of the world, that the government really won't put their shoulder into stopping this?

Rob Morris: I don’t think so.  I mean there are always advocates.  There are always people and that’s who we look for.  I mean –

Alec Baldwin: And what do you think prevents a country like the Thai government from doing a better job at extinguishing these practices?

Rob Morris: I think it’s just will and recognizing that this is an issue that we need to deal with.  And again, I don’t want to just single out Thailand. 

Alec Baldwin: Right.

Rob Morris: I mean it’s the same thing when we look at here in the U.S.  I think it’s not just a cultural thing.  We’re talking about poverty; we’re talking about marginalized people.  We’re talking about places of conflict or even when you see something like a natural disaster in a place.  The first people on the scene in Haiti after the earthquake –

Alec Baldwin: I was gonna ask you about that.

Rob Morris:  - it wasn’t aid workers.  They were traffickers.

Alec Baldwin: Are they indigenous Haitian people or --

Rob Morris: Again, I think its people who are looking for opportunity.  How can I make a buck?

Alec Baldwin: So men and maybe some women who are in the sex for hire business, they’re in the prostitution business.  The earthquake comes, they’re there in Haiti and they say to ourselves, this is our big chance.  We’re gonna make a killing here.

Rob Morris: Yeah.  And I mean it's estimated that the trafficking of human beings basically generates between $12 billion and $32 billion dollars a year.  It’s profitable.  You have the same situation happening here when it’s vulnerability.  You've got pimps luring girls from bus stations.  They come here; they don’t have a place to stay, looking for something to eat.  Perhaps come from a broken home and this pimp comes in as the knight in shining armor and it’s all good at first.  I’ll give you a place to stay, give you food; I’ll take care of you.  I’ll be your daddy.  And here’s a girl that’s either had an abusive father or maybe not even a father in her life and this guy’s telling her the things that she’s always wanted to hear a father say.  You’re beautiful.  You’re special.

Alec Baldwin: And in the United States, many of these people are coming out of foster care systems.  They’re people who are runaways from that system.

Rob Morris: Vulnerability.  Basically that’s the bottom line, is it’s about vulnerability.  So where are there vulnerable children?  Foster care system, runaways, throw away teens. 

Alec Baldwin: And there are hundreds of thousands of people working every year between the ages – I was told of 11 and 14 years old, is the average age where they start?

Rob Morris: Yeah.  A child usually enters into the trafficking situation or prostitution; the average age is anywhere between 13 and 15 years of age.

Alec Baldwin: In the United States?

Rob Morris: Right.  And the statistics are really dangerous.  Unfortunately there’s not a lot of really good solid research.  You’ll hear numbers from everywhere from 100,000 kids at risk for commercial sexual exploitation to 300,000.  Because the issue such an in the shadows kind of issue, many times victims don’t come forth, or their arrested as criminals.  In most states a 15 year old is picked up for prostitution, they’re arrested as a criminal and thrown into the jail.  The next day the pimp bails ‘em out and they’re back in the situation.  So they’re not even counted as a victim of trafficking.

Alec Baldwin: So people, who are in the ranks of this vulnerable group of people in the foster care system and so forth, are there people who are working on the fringes of that system or perhaps even within the system itself, who function as pimps and shills and they develop talent if you will inside that business?  Is that a big problem?

Rob Morris: Wow, that’s a huge question.  I think pimps, traffickers, johns, whatever – any of those categories, will look for places where they can get easy access to vulnerable –

Alec Baldwin: Such as?

Rob Morris: I mean we’ve seen something happen just recently in the news with Penn State.  So coaches, people in ministry, you know pastors, priests.  You see camp counselors, teachers in the news who’ve gone in that direction.  It’s an easy situation because they get easy access and they sometimes come with trust built in.

Alec Baldwin: Explain to the audience then how someone – I mean what are signs maybe that parents or peers or other people involved in the lives of these children can see?  What is the mechanism by which we cross over from mentor in a relationship and it becomes a sexual relationship?  Is there a language that people are using?  Have you even been involved in any research of this or seen any research about this?

Rob Morris: Yeah, I think that's a really legitimate question.  I mean I think there are signs to look for, if it’s your own teenager.

Alec Baldwin: Such as?

Rob Morris: Withdrawing.  Spending inordinate amount of time – I mean it’s inappropriate for a kid to be spending time alone with – and that’s my thinking, with a teacher at their house.  That's just a no brainer to me.

Alec Baldwin: So that’s what you see happening?

Rob Morris: Oh yeah.  I mean that’s we’ve seen happen.  That’s what continues to happen.  And you see on the news. 

Alec Baldwin: So these people that are these predatory or potentially predatory people in terms of child sex abuse, it begins with excessive or significant amounts of time alone with a child.  They get them alone and that’s when they begin to develop this relationship, that then they cross this line and lead them by the hand if you will into a sexual relationship.

Rob Morris: Yeah.  And again what happens in the mind of what could be described as a predator is beyond my comprehension.  I don’t think anybody wakes up at 45 years of age or 50 years of age and says, I’m going to have sex with a child.

Alec Baldwin: Right.

Rob Morris: There is a grooming that takes place over years and years.  And that’s what we’re seeing now and even when it comes to media and grooming.  Where media has normalized the objectification of women and girls and that leads in some realms, to exploitation.  Kids are watching videos where you have a glorification of pimp culture.  Where it’s totally okay to watch a music video where you have a guy walking women that a hardly dressed, with chains around their necks or somebody swiping a credit card down a girl’s crack in a video.

Alec Baldwin: Do you recognize that our society is far more sexualized when you were growing up or was it 'twas ever thus?

Rob Morris: Oh man, I think things have changed very –

Alec Baldwin: How so?

Rob Morris: - very quickly.  I think you’re seeing images portraying women younger and younger.  Somebody was telling me about this show that’s on TV where they have these kids in these beauty pageants --you don’t dress a five year old kid provocatively, that’s just insanity.

Alec Baldwin: You know one very – I don’t want to say dated or tried and true – one traditional if you will, component of this is the issue of sex education in schools or sex education in some way in our society.  Where we really get a little more honest with ourselves about the power of sexuality in the force that it is in our lives and how much we need to face that; in an ever increasingly younger group of people.  Sex is something that you don’t want to demonize. You don’t want people to grow up thinking that sex is a bad thing or sex is an unhealthy thing.  ‘Cause you’re gonna have a whole other set of problems when you do that.  What’s your opinion, if any, about the need for recalibrating and rededicating ourselves to a series sex education program in schools?

Rob Morris: I think coming from our work, we would love to see the issue of sexual exploitation be taught as a regular part of the curriculum of sex education.  It’s usually not.  And so getting that as part of the taught curriculum, what is exploitation, what does it look like.  The schools that we’ve been going into, it’s amazing the lights that are turning on.  Kids will be up afterwards saying this is happening to my friend by somebody who she thinks is her boyfriend. I think it needs to be part of a sex education curriculum.  How do you protect yourself from being exploited so that you’re not in a place of vulnerability? 

Alec Baldwin: Well, see that’s fascinating to me that you say that because in the past – I mean sex education to me as I recall, in a biology class in the ninth grade, we had a sex education component.  It was folded into that class.  It was almost like the duck and cover response to atomic bombing. They might as well of just had, you know, Eisenhower come in or Eleanor Roosevelt and teach us sex education it was so dated.  But what you’re saying is even more interesting.  Which is to come into a room and start to teach kids – and even in seventh and eighth grade perhaps and say to them, here are some of the dangers of sex and sexual exploitation. 

‘Cause as I’ve said to my own daughter – I have a 16 year old daughter and my conversations with her about sex are guys will say anything to you, some of them, to get you to do what they want you to do.  And the real issue is that some of them are very good at it.  Some of them will really sell you on the idea that doing what you want them to do is what you want to do.  And I wonder if a more sophisticated, more evolved version of that is what we need in sex education classes.  Which is to teach everybody here’s where sex can get you in trouble. 

Rob Morris: Yeah.  And I think challenging guys as well, challenging boys.  You know the definition of rock and roll from the school of rock is stickin' it to the man.  And basically let me tell you what the man is doing.  The man – the culture that we’re living in, the hyper sexualized culture is grooming you to be this 45 year old man some day.  So if you want to stick it to the man, rebel against that.  Be your better self.  I was in a school and teaching in a high school classroom on the issue of trafficking and exploitation.  And there was a guy in the back of the class that was just sort of like smirking the whole time.  And he’s like man this sounds like a good business to go into.  You know and –

Alec Baldwin: Your business.

Rob Morris: No.  No. Hey, I could –

Alec Baldwin: Oh the trafficking.

Rob Morris: - make some money here.  He’s like this is lucrative. You know, ‘cause I was talking about some of the stats and the kind of money that’s generating through, you know, the sale of human beings.  And he’s thinking, man this sounds like a lucrative business and he’s making jokes and everything.  And then I start to unpack about, you know, let me talk to you about what a pimp really is.  Instead of this glorified picture that you see on your videos and this is what a pimp looks like.  And we talk about some of the kids that we work – we have a girl in our safe home Alec that is deaf and mute.  The idea that somebody would first take advantage of a child who is living in abject poverty and a child, who couldn’t even cry out for herself; could not even say anything about it, is insanity.  This is what a pimp is.  This is what a trafficker is.  This is what they prey on.  Somebody said, you know, these people are like animals. 

And I love it, I think it was Dostoyevsky who said, don't ever compare human beings to animals because it's an insult to animals, because animals would never come up with the artistic cruelty that human beings come up with.  That's the reality.

[MUSIC]

Alec Baldwin: This is Alec Baldwin.  You’re listening to Here’s the Thing. Coming up -- more from my conversation with Rob Morris, one of the cofounders of Love146.

Here’s The Thing is supported by Stitcher SmartRadio. With Stitcher’s free app for mobile phones, listeners can get the latest episodes of Here’s The Thing, Radiolab, This American Life, and thousands of other podcasts on demand, without downloading or syncing.  The free Stitcher SmartRadio mobile app can be found in the iPhone or Android app stores or at stitcher.com/heresthething.

This is Alec Baldwin.  I’m talking with Rob Morris -- one of the cofounders of Love 146, an organization that works to prevent child sex slavery around the world.  Rob's organization focuses on prevention, providing after care for victims, and also works to pass legislation, like the recent Safe Harbor Laws.

Rob Morris: At the bottom line a Safe Harbor Law is designed to create a situation where it redefines anyone under the age of 18, in some cases 16, from being considered a criminal to being considered a victim and so it’s to protect.  So instead of the 15 year old being picked up for prostitution and being arrested, thrown into jail and bailed out by the pimp, this person now is to be perceived and looked at as a victim of human tracking.  According to Federal Law, anyone under the age of 18 years of age, according to the Federal Law, um, cannot consent to being commercially sold for sex, you can’t do it.  And so anyone under the age of 18 a Safe Harbor Law is supposed to be designed to say this person is a victim and not a criminal. And that’s what the Safe Harbor Laws is

Alec Baldwin: How is it working?  Are you in support of those laws?

Rob Morris: Absolutely, we helped pushed to get one passed in Connecticut .  There are only 4 or 5 states that actually have one. So yeah and it also increases the penalties for those purchasing sex, pimps and traffickers. 

Alec Baldwin: Talk about the, for most people who are, who look into this issue, obviously the internet has made a huge change in the way sexual trafficking and a whole cornucopia of the sexually illegal activity that's conducted.  Talk, if you will, about how your organization and similar organizations consider that.

Rob Morris: Yeah, I actually spoke with a member of the NYPD here and he deals with the trafficking issue here in New York and he described the internet as the new streets. That the day of where you see prostitution happening on street corners and all of that is coming to an end and it's happening now on the internet.  That's a big deal because then it becomes a situation where it's much more anonymous, much more difficult to see and to track.

Alec Baldwin: You did some of this investigative work here in the U.S., the Korean spa story you were involved in.

Rob Morris:  Oh that was an accident.  I was getting a tattoo and the place that I was getting the ink, the downstairs was a sauna and acupressure place with an Asian name to it.  And the blinds were always closed.  There was a one way glass mirrored door.

Alec Baldwin: These places are everywhere.

Rob Morris: Yeah. Knowing what I know, I was just like 'This looks really shady to me.'  I asked the people in the tattoo place, 'Hey what's going on downstairs?'  They were like, 'Oh we don't ask any questions.'  Didn't take rocket science.  You know you looked it up in the phone book and it's got hours of operation at 3:00 in the morning.  Nobody gets up at 2:00 in the morning; I think I'm gonna go get some acupressure.  It's sort of no brainer stuff.  One of my coworkers went on a site - there are websites where johns can rate their experiences with women that they've been with in a prostitution situation.  And so they typed the name of this particular spa and -

Alec Baldwin: Sounds like restaurants.

[Crosstalk]

Rob Morris: - it lit up.  Exactly.  It's like a Yelp for these kind of services.  And this place lit up all over the place. So we report it, we had an advocate within the police department in Connecticut who understood the trafficking issue.  It took a long time, but they eventually ended up doing a raid and sure enough there were all kinds of funky things going in there.  As specifically Korean women, none of them spoke English.  The women were arrested and the johns were let go.  They used the johns for evidence and the women were the ones that were arrested.  And this is why even the safe harbor law is such a key thing for children so that hey, you know, what this is not a criminal, this is a victim.  And that changes the perception and how we deal with them.  About six months later the place opened up again under a new name and basically is doing the same thing.  Again because of the priority this is not - you know there's people getting killed, we gotta deal with that.

Alec Baldwin: Talk if you would about the Penn State scandal.  You know in my mind when this happened, if Sandusky is proven guilty of a crime, which obviously it seems like there's a lot of evidence to point in that direction.  What's the best thing to do with people like that?  Like wouldn't you love to get a guy like that in a conference room and grill him for about a month about everything he did and why, so we can learn more about it?  I wonder if just taking these people and having our indignation at the fore and just shuttering them away somewhere and punishing them and making sure the world knows how we deal with these people.  You get them out there and we try to have some kind of forensic examination of him and what he did, so we can learn from that.  What do you think about that?

Rob Morris: Well, I think there's some power to deterrence in hey you know what you can face life in prison.  I know Massachusetts just passed a law where a trafficker now can get life in prison. I think there is - a good thing with that is there's the deterrence factor. Like oh you know what, when I think about profit versus risk, the risk just went up quite a bit. I'm gonna go sell drugs now instead of selling human beings.  A lot less risk involved.  I won't get you know 20 years to life.  The good thing is I think it can act as a deterrent as far as stronger laws.  That's a great question as far as like - somebody asked me the other day, have you ever met anybody that's been rehabilitated, somebody that has actually been a trafficker.  I have not.  I would love to find that person and find out -

Alec Baldwin: But I'm not talking about rehabilitating Sandusky or using Sandusky's testimony to rehabilitate any other traffickers.  It's in order to help other people recognize the signs.

Rob Morris: What's going on inside his brain?

Alec Baldwin: What to look for. I'd love to get Sandusky into a study as a part of his sentence, where we can learn about this.  'Cause I'm assuming when this thing happened with Sandusky, the first thing I thought to myself, is 'Oh God, the next thing we're gonna hear is how prevalent this was and we didn't know it.'  That coaches are sexually abusing if not outright raping or pimping players on their own teams.  What do you think of that idea?

Rob Morris: It would be certainly interesting to know what goes -

Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

Rob Morris: - on inside a person's head like that. 

Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

Rob Morris: And what that looks like and how it ends up playing out.

Alec Baldwin: How he sees the world and how does the predator think, so we can help the prey avoid some of these pitfalls.

Rob Morris: Yeah, I mean prevention is the bottom line, right?

Alec Baldwin: Yeah, I think so.

Rob Morris: Whatever we can do. And these are the complexities.

Alec Baldwin: For me, all this brings me back to is this notion of - and we get honest about sexuality, we get honest about ourselves.  People will say to me in my business, do violent films disturb you.  And I'll say, to a degree they do.  But I said, not really because violence I think is something that people don't feel they have a right to.  If you go in and see a film - you know if you go watch Charles Bronson in Death Wish, kill all the bad guys and you feel motivated and authorized to go out and commit some act of violence, you have some other pathology going into the film.  Sexuality is different because sex is something that people feel entitled to have.  They feel they should be having.  It's like - there's a lot of men out there - 'cause we tend to think of this as more a man on woman crime, who they're predisposed to do this kind of thing if they're not careful.  Do you agree with that?

Rob Morris: Yeah.  Well, again it comes back to things that have shaped their thinking, have shaped their psyche.  I don't - because I'm not a psychologist, I don't understand all of that.  But when we talk about what we deal with specifically with children, it doesn't have anything to do with sex.  It's violence against children.  So it's -

Alec Baldwin: It's interesting that you say that.  That's a very good point you make.  That what is perceived as a sex crime with this child sex labor thing, it's not sex at all, it's a violence.

Rob Morris: It's violence.

Alec Baldwin: It's violence.  You're a father.

Rob Morris: Uh-huh.

Alec Baldwin: And you and your wife have two of your own biological children and you've adopted four children.  And how many boys, how many girls?

Rob Morris: I have two boys and four girls.

Alec Baldwin: So you have four daughters.  Are any of them biological?

Rob Morris: My oldest daughter.

Alec Baldwin: Your oldest daughter is your biological.  How old is she?

Rob Morris: She's 24.

Alec Baldwin: So your oldest child is 24 and your youngest child is how old?

Rob Morris: Six.

Alec Baldwin:  And so some of your children you have brought into your family and adopted during the course of your years doing this work.  Were any of them a result of doing this work?

Rob Morris: No.

Alec Baldwin: None.  And they're not even from regions that this - that they have -

Rob Morris: From regions, yeah.

Alec Baldwin: So one of your daughter's is from where for example?

Rob Morris: My daughter, who is going to be 16 this week, is from China.  And then my youngest daughter is from -

Alec Baldwin: What's the trafficking situation like there?

Rob Morris: Same kind of situation.  I mean it's bad.  And my youngest daughter is from Vietnam.

Alec Baldwin: One thing I do wonder is how much does the role of a very, very strong and very, very effective history of feminism change things in certain countries.  Has feminism prevented this from becoming worse in parts of the world than it might have been?

Rob Morris: Absolutely.  I mean where there is vulnerability, there will be predators.  In many countries of the world and many communities women are -

Alec Baldwin: Women are vulnerable by design.

Rob Morris: Yeah, marginalized.  Women and girls and many times children.

Alec Baldwin: But I guess my point is that your daughter is 24 years old so when this organization - your work with them started ten years ago, your daughter was 14. So you've raised your family from a certain point and many of them for their entire lives inside that timeline.  And I'm wondering what do you talk to your children about if at all or what do you and your wife talk about with them.  How do you handle the subject of sex as a father with your children?

Rob Morris: Yeah, I think it depends on the age obviously, being age appropriate. 

Alec Baldwin: Sure.

Rob Morris: Even like my youngest kids don't know what daddy does.  I mean other -

Alec Baldwin: They don't.

Rob Morris: - than daddy helps children who are in big trouble.  They understand slavery.

Alec Baldwin: You know that I understand.  The youngest is six now.

Rob Morris: Like my 15 year old knows what the situation is.  We've had great talks about it.  She's actually started a Love 146 task force in her high school.  I think it's important, but at the right age.

Alec Baldwin: Are you ever thinking of have any more children or adopting more children?

Rob Morris: Probably.

Alec Baldwin: You are?

Rob Morris:  Yeah, it's a good possibility.

Alec Baldwin:  Really?

Rob Morris: Yeah, we've just talked about it recently actually.

Alec Baldwin: Adopting one?

Rob Morris: Uh-huh.

Alec Baldwin: Why?

Rob Morris: We just feel like as long as we can provide a home for somebody who doesn't have one and we can provide a family for someone who doesn't have one, then let's do that.

Alec Baldwin: What does your wife think about this work you're doing?

Rob Morris: My wife's a rock star.

Alec Baldwin: Right.

Rob Morris: Yeah.  I mean and especially 'cause I travel so much and everything.  Oftentimes she's become the second mom.

Alec Baldwin: You've left her with six kids.

Rob Morris: Yeah. 

Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

Rob Morris: Yeah.  She's doing the hard work.  But I remember with the first phone call that I made that night when I came back from the brothel the first time and I called her up and she could right away on the phone.  She's like, "Are you okay?"

Alec Baldwin: What has this done to you personally?  What has it done to you?  'Cause I will tell you that I have had things happen to me in my life and they've made me lose my faith in people. 

Rob Morris: I've had to battle with that.  I'm not an optimist.  I'm hopeful.  And I think those are two different things.  I've seen literally the worst of humanity.

Alec Baldwin: The worst.

Rob Morris: Yeah.  And so it'd be really easy to become super jaded, super cynical.  But at the same time, I've also seen absolutely amazing things, great people.  I remember I met a director of a human rights agency in Cambodia.  And she looked at me and she goes, you know what your problem is as Americans.  And I looked at her, I sort of winched thinking okay I can think of some things but I know you're gonna fill me in.  And she goes, you don't think, you react.  And I'm like what do you mean.  And she says, a lot of times you seem some human rights abuse or whatever and everything and instead of taking the time to think through solutions that are gonna be effective and sustainable, you just react to it. 

Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

Rob Morris: And because you haven't put thought into it, sometimes your reaction causes more harm than good.  And I kinda took that as a mandate as an organization.  To say you know what we need to be thoughtful because these -

Alec Baldwin: And that has informed what you do.

Rob Morris: It has informed.  And the difficulty though with that, is I live with this daily tension.  We live with this daily tension of the emergency factor of children being sold.

Alec Baldwin: Right. 

Rob Morris: And the time that it takes -

Alec Baldwin: That kinda 911 a component

Rob Morris: Right.  And the time that it takes to create thoughtful solutions that --

Alec Baldwin: Do it in a smart way.

Rob Morris: -- are gonna work.

[MUSIC]

Alec Baldwin: Rob Morris is the president and co-founder of Love146.

There are many other people fighting to abolish child sex trafficking. Rachel Lloyd runs GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, a New York-based organization that helps girls and young women leave the commercial sex industry in this country.

Rachel Lloyd: Like it’s not this foreign strange alien population -- it’s women and girls who’ve experience an incredible amount of trauma and hardship in their lives who have the same hopes and fears and dreams as everybody else.

You can hear Rachel’s story, learn more about Rob Morris’ organization, Love146 and other resources, at our website, heresthething.org.

This is Alec Baldwin.  Here’s the Thing is produced by WNYC Radio.  Let me know what you think. 

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