Sound of Freedom Review

The movie The Sound of Freedom, currently playing in theaters, has stirred up a remarkable amount of controversy. The dramatized true story of Tim Ballard, an agent in the Department of Homeland Security who resigned from his job to track down pedophiles in Colombia, South America, has ignited debate on the political left and the right. Personally, themes of child sex trafficking and pedophilia raised major alarms for me as I related them to moral injury.

It was painful to watch the film as a conniving female pimp kidnapped children who thought they were getting their photos made for a casting call leading to a possible movie role. Their gullible parents dropped them off at a hotel, but upon arriving a few hours later, discovered that they had all disappeared. Immediately their photos appeared on a child trafficking website, and the children were then sold either to individuals or brothels. Tim Ballard is enlisted to track down a brother and sister, Miguel and Rocio, and eventually succeeds. This global crisis and the daring rescues accomplished by Operation Underground Railroad dramatically highlight the depths of today’s society’s moral failure to protect our vulnerable children.

For some perspective, here are some objective yet ghastly statistics: the FBI states that child porn has increased 2500% since 1996. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that 100,000 American children are victimized by child sexual exploitation annually. Social media and bogus acting scams lure young people into human trafficking. The average serial child molester has as many as 400 victims. The United States is the primary market for child trafficking. Estimates are that 20% of American children have been sexually molested, often by family friends or relatives. Almost half of these molesters were themselves abused by adults, and then carried this generational legacy forward. As the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people.”

What should be our response as practitioners, counselors, concerned parents and the public? Understanding the bases of moral injury, we cannot be silent or ambiguous in our responses to this global crisis. Just as the United States military has been slow to recognize and address Military Sexual Trauma, seemingly our society is reluctant to address the issues raised in The Sound of Freedom, opting to frame responses as either a liberal or conservative ideology, when they are fundamentally ethical and moral actions. The defining theme of the movie is “God’s children are not for sale,” and no matter where a person stands in the culture wars, we should hold fundamental beliefs on the value and sanctity of human life.

Susan Sganga is the Media Specialist for Moral Injury Support Network for Servicewomen, Inc. and is a public health specialist located in North Carolina. She can be reached at 704-254-1548 or su.sganga691@wingate.edu.

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