Sound of Freedom Opens Eyes to Atrocities Against Children
Angel Studios’ Sound of Freedom — a gripping story of one man’s crusade to save children from the world of sex traffickers — opened on the fourth of July, and according to FOX News, “On its first day, the film took the number one spot at the box office, grossing over $14 million.”
Based on the true story of Tim Ballard, a former special agent for Homeland Security, Sound of Freedom leads moviegoers into the heartbreaking world of child sex trafficking.
The movie opens when Ballard, portrayed by Jim Caviezel, apprehends a man for possessing child pornography. Ballard, who has put pedophiles behind bars but has not saved the actual children, decides he needs to do more. In the movie, he begins his quest to find those children — and one in particular.
Into the Darkest of Corners
In real life, Ballard did embark on that same quest to free children. He left Homeland Security and founded a nonprofit called Operation Underground Railroad. His team “consists of former law enforcement and military personnel who employ covert operations to rescue victims from brothels, slave markets, and other trafficking situations.” OUR’s mission is to fight sexual exploitation of children around the world, no matter where that might be. According to the site, “We go to the darkest corners of the world to assist law enforcement in rescuing children and ensure ongoing aftercare.”
They do this because, as the main theme of the movie cries out, “God’s children are not for sale.”
A special message at the end of the movie tells viewers that child trafficking has risen to alarming proportions throughout the world. And though it is not only children who are stolen and trafficked, it is children who are the most vulnerable. That is why we cannot ignore the devastating truth that every day around the world children are bought and sold into sexual slavery.
The International Labour Organization wrote a document in 2017 entitled Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, estimating that worldwide in 2016 one million children under 18 were victims of commercial sexual exploitation, which it defines as “the use, procuring, or offering of children for prostitution or pornography.” Imagine the terror, the loneliness, and the brutality that these children endure.
Most people cannot even fathom harming a child, but for too many in this world, a child is a commodity more priceless than drugs. As the movie points out, a child can be sold several times a day for many years. Drugs can be sold only once. And while the real-life Ballard and his team have journeyed to some of the darkest parts of the world, the true darkness to be found is in the hearts of the men and women who buy, sell, and abuse children.
Children Desperately Need Our Help
At the end of the movie, actor Jim Caviezel challenges viewers to take action. He passes the proverbial baton to us because sex trafficking is not a problem that any one person can solve on his own. It is something that, as a global community, we must all undertake. Efforts begin at home, and they begin with awareness, education, and action. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers important information on its website to teach people to recognize signs that a child is being trafficked and to alert them to the warning signs of those who might be vulnerable to trafficking. This is vital information to know.
But we will never effect any kind of change if we don’t all take steps to teach others the sanctity of all human life. Combating child sex trafficking may seem like an insurmountable task for most of us. We can’t all be Tim Ballard. But we can put a stop to the disdain for children and the abuses that we see in our everyday lives — abuses that lead to darkened hearts.
We must be aware that not all child sex trafficking is perpetrated by international traffickers who snatch children from the streets and ship them to foreign countries in shipping containers. Though this does happen, many trafficked children are sold by parents or family members for drugs or money. Or they are runaways who have been coerced into sexual slavery and feel they have nowhere to go and no one who cares enough about them to rescue them. They are trapped in an evil world where they are bought, sold, and abused day after day. These children desperately need our help, and we can all make a difference by going to the OUR site to find ways to volunteer and take action.
Stop the Terror Before It Starts
But our most important mission — and it’s one that every single person can partake in — must be to stop the terror before it starts and to make it unthinkable that someone could sell or abuse a child. Of course, this will not happen overnight, and it likely will never totally happen. Sin has too much of a stranglehold on our world. But every action we take to help teach our children, our friends, our coworkers, and our neighbors the inherent value we all have as human beings can be a step in the right direction and can potentially save a life.
That means that we speak out against crimes against children. This not only includes trafficking but other atrocities such as abortion and gender transitioning surgery as well. We protect children and make them feel valued. We help struggling single and impoverished parents in any way we can so that their children don’t become prey to online predators or go without basic necessities. We watch the community around us for any signs of distressed children. We teach our children to befriend the child on the playground who seems lonely.
Caring for the vulnerable around us is our responsibility. Sound of Freedom opens our eyes to the atrocity of child trafficking, but the movie does no good if we choose to then close our eyes again.
So I challenge everyone reading this to prayerfully discern your role in combating the brutalities against children. It’s not enough to simply feel moved by this film. You must allow it to change and motivate you to action. How will you make a difference? What darkened regions will you traverse to save a life?
Susan Ciancio is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has worked as a writer and editor for over 20 years; 14 of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently, she is the editor of American Life League’s Celebrate Life Magazine — the nation’s premier Catholic pro-life magazine. She is also the executive editor of ALL’s Culture of Life Studies Program — a pre-K-12 Catholic pro-life education organization.