UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 18, 2024

‘Sound of Freedom’ controversy brings to light reality of human trafficking

An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year with the highest cases of trafficking coming from the states of California, Texas and Florida. The 2023 film, “Sound of Freedom,” broke social and film norms raising awareness of child trafficking and how serious this travesty is. Photo courtesy of Canva Pro @GreenOak

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In 2021 there were 27.6 million globally reported cases of human trafficking. Out of those cases, only about 2% of child human trafficking children are recovered. An estimated 41% of child trafficking is initiated by family members and caregivers. 

The top 5 states with the highest child trafficking cases include:

  • California – 1334 cases
  • Texas – 917 cases
  • Florida – 781 cases
  • New York – 404 cases
  • Michigan – 295 cases

The movie “Sound of Freedom” was first shown in theaters July 4, 2023, and created controversy because the topic of human trafficking is a sensitive subject to speak about in a factual, yet respectful way. And some people believed the movie solely benefitted the creators, and the proceeds were not being given back to the cause. Since then, the movie has been released on multiple different platforms for viewing, such as Amazon Prime, YouTube and Apple TV.

“The film broke previous film norms in a way that made a lot of people angry but also needed to be done,” said Brynley Kint, a junior digital film major from St. George. “It does take advantage of the massive impact that films can have on the public, and hopefully will continue to spread awareness and rally those willing to help the cause against child trafficking.”

Some people believe the Hollywood industry should not be making movies that are on such sensitive subjects as “Sound of Freedom” at all, whereas others say that the responsibility to spread awareness of subjects such as human trafficking doesn’t lie within Hollywood. It is up to individuals to make the decision about what they watch or don’t watch in the media. 

Chris Caldwell, a part-time instructor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said: “Parents and guardians should be the instructors on this and many other topics. We can’t leave it up to Hollywood and the rating system to educate people.”

Stacy Lee, a true crime and dark stories YouTuber and content creator, said: “There is reason to be upset. If you’re going to make money off of terrible events, you must give back to victims.”

The $5 million that was raised to distribute this film went right to Angel Studios. Audiences are upset that this money is not going to corporations that support the child trafficking cause.

“I think the deeper problem is that many people in this country have the privilege of not experiencing child trafficking firsthand,” Caldwell said. “It happens just rarely enough that I think many people lean toward the ‘that would never happen to me or someone I know’ side of things. We file it away deeper than other issues we experience both personally and through media.”

The human trafficking hotline is available for any cases, confirmed or suspected.