There’s a dark side to parenting that doesn’t get talked about often, and that’s a heightened sense of worry as we take closer stock of all the ugliness that happens in the world. These things plague our minds late at night as we imagine them happening to our kids in a torturous game of “What if?”
For 39-year-old father and actor Ashton Kutcher, one of those horrific scenarios, child sex trafficking, is a thing he has witnessed through his close work as Chairman and Co-founder of Thorn.
A visibly shaken Ashton Kutcher delivered a gripping speech to the Senate in an effort to put an end to child sex trafficking. Kutcher, the That 70’s Show actor and Punk’d host we’ve come to know on screen as a goof ball, started his speech joking about internet trolls, but quickly turned serious.
Warning, Ashton’s speech is graphic, but it’s what the world needs to hear.
This is about the time when I start talking about politics and internet trolls tell me to stick to my day job, so I’d like to talk about my day job. My day job is as the Chairman and Co-Founder of Thorn. We built software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. That’s our core mission. My other day job is that of a father of two, a two-month-old, and a two-year-old, and as part of that job that I take very seriously, I believe that it is my effort to defend their right to pursue happiness, and to ensure a society and government that defends it as well.
Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for victims of sex trafficking, this evil crime is one that has gone from “I can’t even imagine” to something that keeps him awake at night.
Kutcher’s words belong to all parents. The moment a child enters our life, their safety becomes, or should become, our prime concern.
Instead of commenting on news about abused and exploited children in hushed tones with friends and family, Kutcher decided to do something.
As co-founder and chairman of Thorn, along with ex-wife Demi Moore and several others, Kutcher does gut-wrenching work in order to combat sex traffickers on the dark web, a job he considers just as important as being an actor and father.
I’ve been on FBI raids where I’ve seen things that no person should ever see. I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia. And this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.
Thorn’s clear-cut mission is to “partner across the tech industry, government and NGOs and leverage technology to combat predatory behavior, rescue victims, and protect vulnerable children.” They do this through partnerships with over 20 well-known companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Yahoo!, Snapchat, and Tumblr to research traffickers and create technology that can identify victims. And Thorn’s mission is working. Since Thorn’s birth in 2008, the organization has rescued over 6,000 trafficking victims and captured 2,000 traffickers.
Another cool thing about Thorn is that almost anyone can help. Whether you make a donation, volunteer, or help share their information, you can help victims of trafficking and sextortion. Learn more about ways to help here.
Watch part of Ashton’s speech below, and let’s kick sex trafficking right in the nuts.