Activism at Scarlet Oaks Career Campus: Recognizing Human Trafficking in the Cosmetology Industry

Writer: Brooklyn Whittington, Cosmetology

The state of Ohio, unfortunately, is a state where human trafficking exists on a large scale. In addition to that, human trafficking happens frequently in the cosmetology industryAs a senior in the Scarlet Oaks Cosmetology program, we are taught to identify the signs of human trafficking. Our instructor, Mrs. Danielle Davis, teaches us to be activists and to understand how and why cosmetology is an industry that can keep human trafficking in business.

Scarlet Oaks Cosmetology

Because the cosmetology industry has the ability to change someone’s look, it’s easily targeted. Human trafficking is also seen in the form of someone offering victims jobs, paying their bills, and indebting that person to a situation where these victims have to work off money owed.

Although knowing that this industry is big on human trafficking is good, it can also be scary. A personal experience taught me to really pay attention to my environment. I had gone to an interview for a receptionist job at a local salon. The employees were acting strangely saying the manager “would like this one” as they were talking about me. I found myself in the back where he was asking questions about who I lived with, if I were married, and questions that are illegal and have no place in an interview. Thank goodness I knew enough to know that something was wrong. I walked out to my mother’s car where she was waiting for me, and I described the uncomfortable experience. We reported it to the authorities.

Now, with this experience where I’ve learned personal caution and with what I’ve learned in the cosmetology lab, I can be an activist and watch for warning signs such as if the client seems uncomfortable answering certain questions. Questions that ask where a person works, what plans they have, and other life questions that ask for future goals. I know I can be helpful to people by taking this knowledge to heart and always being watchful over my clients and their behaviors.  Career Tech education is a wealth of opportunity for life and learning.

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