Bagaria ’20 Fights Child Trafficking through Prevention by Attention
Anika Bagaria’s ’20 stories about why she created Prevention by Attention (PBA) are hard – but important - to hear.
She founded the nonprofit organization several years ago to help prevent bullying in Guatemalan public schools. Working with other students in the U.S., she created a curriculum of health and wellness information. These lessons were designed to be taught by students, to students, making the information more relatable and adaptable. PBA also collected and shared donations of hygiene supplies. Clearly a terrific project, making a difference for lots of underserved children.
But Bagaria soon learned there was more to do.
She found out that local gangs had targeted the sister of one of Guatemalan students she met. The little girl was regularly raped, forced to make conjugal visits at a local prison. Teachers only became aware when the 12-year old became pregnant. Bagaria herself witnessed another teen, around her age, who was clearly in an abusive relationship with an older man. When Bagaria confronted local authorities, they feigned ignorance. “There was nothing I could do,” she said. “I think about her every day.”
However, there was something she could do – and has done. Bagaria expanded the PBA curriculum to help students recognize and prevent abuse. PBA is now an international youth support system dedicated to preventing childhood sexual abuse and promoting overall health and wellness. It has expanded beyond Guatemala and now works with schools in the United States, India, Mexico, and Ghana.
“Child trafficking and sexual abuse is an emergency. We need to do more to prevent it,” said Bagaria. “This isn’t just happening in Guatemala City – it’s everywhere,” Bagaria said. “There’s a misconception that trafficking means that children are kidnapped and disappear across borders. That’s not true. It can be happening in your hometown, in your neighborhood.”
Retired U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) spoke at Lawrenceville on Monday evening, quoting Lincoln’s first inaugural address as he encouraged students to “search "for the better angels of our nature” during this time of political diverseness.
Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose. Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.