My Most Unsettling Research Topic – J.A.Kerley

I’ve researched many uncomfortable topics for my stories: White Supremacists for In the Blood, pedophiles for Little Girls Lost, abusive males for Her Last Scream. But the most unsettling—and depressing—was researching The Death Box.


The story involves present-day human trafficking and slavery. Though figures are rough and vary per definitions, here’s a sample of the horrors discovered:

  • Over 30 million humans are victims of human trafficking, a practice that generates over 30 billion dollars annually.
  • 1.2 million of these victims are children.
  • Only narcotics sales exceed trafficking as a source of illegal income.
  • Human trafficking is the fastest-growing international crime.
  • The largest motivator is sexual trafficking. The global sex trade burns through women and female children—and to a lesser extent, men and boys—at a wildfire pace, and fresh fuel is always needed. The age of children brought into sexual commerce averages 12-14 years old.
  • A close second motivator is economic trafficking: people made to work in dangerous conditions for long hours. Slavery is often present, and children are a favored target.
  • Victims tend to come from poorer strata of poorer countries, nonetheless, trafficking occurs everywhere around the globe.

In several of my books, I’ve had to research sociopathic individuals, which are, at base, people without a shred of conscience. In researching human trafficking, I realized I was studying a sociopathic enterprise. A business that enslaves children is without conscience.

How to fight this monstrosity? First, recognize that you’re part of the problem, predominantly in forced-labour trafficking. Not willingly, of course. But the scum who traffick in human work machines are banking that people are more concerned about paying cheap prices for goods and services—and never asking their origin—than being bothered with moral issues.

They’re making you, me, all of us, their punks. They’re pissing in our faces.
Start pissing back. Here are some simple ways to start ending a global hell-on-earth for 30 million fellow humans:

  • Be an informed and conscientious consumer and know the supply chain of purchased goods.
  • Money is power: let patronized businesses know you’re fiercely concerned about this subject. Write and demand their supply chains be free of coercive practices. (What’s one letter, you ask? I spent a quarter of a century in advertising, and know that businesses are terrified of offending consumers. One letter is a spark, a thousand letters is a bolt of lightning.)
  • If a store you patronize is found to be using trafficked-human labour, stop spending money there. If they rectify the situation, re-start your support. Businesses can be duped into using illicit labor sources, and most will set things right to avoid negative publicity.

But the most powerful thing you can do is become aware of the prevalence of human trafficking. A head in the sand (or elsewhere) helps no one. There are many organizations—governmental and NGOs—involved in fighting trafficking and I’m not here to make recommendations. If you find the practice offensive enough, research it deeply. Then join or donate to one of these organizations.

Do the Google and get on board. Get your friends in on the action. Spread the word.
Fight the horror.


The Death Boxthe latest nail-biting thriller from Jack Kerley is out now – and you can start reading for free today!

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