Human Trafficking

Anti-Trafficking’s Sensational Misinformation

Written by: Laura Murphy, Loyola University New Orleans, Modern Slavery Research Project

Are America’s homeless youth targeted by human traffickers? Yes. But not in the sensational way we always hear about.

What we read about sex slavery today is alarming, sensationalized, and often perverse. Tracking down one of the most frequently reported statistics in today’s anti-slavery movement – that runaways are at high risk of sex trafficking – paints a very clear portrait of the unnecessarily exaggerated appeals that are widely-disseminated and oft-repeated.

So what do we know about the fate of runaways in the US? The Department of Health and Human Services reports that “Children, both boys and girls, are solicited for sex, on average, within 72 hours of being on the street. The National Center for Homeless Education shortens the time window and increases the risk by saying “As many as one third of teen runaway or thrownaway youth will become involved in prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.” Fox News Milwaukee recently increased the number of victims to say that “90% of runaways become part of the sex trade business — and most are coerced within 72 hours of running away.”

So are runaways solicited for sex or are they recruited by pimps or are they forced into the sex trade? Does this happen to runaway children or all homeless youth? Does it take 48 or 72 hours for them to be trapped?

Later next month, I will share research and other details of my work where I enlisted the students in my freshman seminar on 21st Century Slavery and Abolition at Loyola University New Orleans to search for the origin of this human trafficking factoid, and they easily discovered how tangled the web of misinformation is.

Laura T. Murphy is an Associate Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans and Director of the Modern Slavery Research Project. She believes that community-based research is at the heart of social change. She provides research services, training, and education on modern slavery and human trafficking throughout the US as well as internationally. Her books include “Survivors of Slavery: Modern Day Slave Narratives and Metaphor and the Slave Trade in West African Literature.” She is currently working on a new book titled “The New Slave Narrative.”

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President Obama’s FY 2017 Budget Released

Written by: Katie Carter, Director of Research, Education & Public Policy, National Safe Place Network

President Obama released his 2017 budget proposal last week. It includes some bright spots in funding for runaway and homeless youth programs and supports for child welfare programs. This is just a proposal though, and serves as a blueprint Congress will use to build its own budget.

Here are some highlights from the proposal:

  • $6 million increase for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs, including the Basic Center, Street Outreach, and Transitional Living Programs.
  • $2 million to conduct a prevalence study of youth homelessness
  • $11 Billion to address family homelessness through creating of housing vouchers and rapid re-housing assistance
  • $85 million for the education of homeless youth
  • Funds to support demonstration grants to help states implement the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014

For additional highlights of homeless programs in general, check out a summary from the National Alliance to End Homelessness: http://www.endhomelessness.org/page/-/files/FY%202017%20Budget%20Rundown.pdf

For additional information about programs and funding related specifically to children and young people, check out First Focus’s highlights: https://nspn.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/NSPN/big-investments-in-kids-in-the-presidents-budget.pdf

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Written by: TC Cassidy, Director of Technical Assistance, National Safe Place NetworkRHYTTAC

By the time someone has been trafficked the system has already failed at what should be its primary goal: PREVENTION. We need to work to prevent human trafficking from occurring so the need for services doesn’t exceed the availability of services. Prevention efforts are not often sensational; however, focusing on preventing some of the risk factors that lead to an increased vulnerability to human trafficking will prove the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Prevention ranges from low or moderate cost activities such as awareness campaigns to help inform the community as well as potential victims of the risk of becoming a trafficking victim to more expensive solutions such as strong enforcement of laws through arrests and prosecutions of traffickers.

In due course prevention efforts will decrease the number of people who perpetrate trafficking and the number of people being trafficked. Prevention efforts aim to reduce risk factors while promoting protective factors.

Prevention efforts:

  • provide information, resources, and safety planning skills to potential victims;
  • attempt to reduce the likelihood that an individual will become a trafficker;
  • change societal norms that blame victims;
  • empower community members to recognize and respond to instances of trafficking; and,
  • advocate for changes to policies and laws to reduce the occurrence of trafficking across vulnerable populations.

Nine Principles of Effective Prevention Programs

In an article titled “What works in prevention: Principles of Effective Prevention Programs,” the authors considered research from four areas (substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, school failure, and juvenile delinquency and violence) to identify characteristics consistently linked with successful prevention programs. The Center on Disease Control’s (CDC) Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) projects, which ended in 2013, used these nine principles as guidelines when developing their prevention programs.

The nine principles identified by Nation, et al. identified in their research indicate effective prevention programs should:

  1. Be Comprehensive: Strategies should include multiple components and affect multiple settings to address a wide range of risk and protective factors of the target problem.
  2. Incorporate Varied Teaching Methods: Strategies should include multiple teaching methods, including some type of active, skills-based component.
  3. Administer Sufficient Dosage: Participants need to be exposed to enough of the activity for it to have an effect.
  4. Be Theory Driven: Preventive strategies should have a scientific justification or logical rationale.
  5. Foster Positive Relationships: Programs should foster strong, stable, positive relationships between children and adults.
  6. Be Appropriately Timed: Program activities should happen at a time (developmentally) that can have maximal impact in a participant’s life.
  7. Be Socio-Culturally Relevant: Programs should be tailored to fit within cultural beliefs and practices of specific groups as well as local community norms.
  8. Include an Outcome Evaluation: A systematic outcome evaluation is necessary to determine whether a program or strategy worked.
  9. Be Delivered by Well-Trained Staff: Programs need to be implemented by staff members who are sensitive, competent, and have received sufficient training, support, and supervision.[1]

National Safe Place Network would add an additional principle to this list as we believe prevention programs/efforts should address the intersectionality of human trafficking. Considering intersectionality of risk and oppression factors, such as age, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc., will ensure those responsible for delivering/managing the prevention program/effort consider their impact when conducting prevention work with individuals and groups within specific populations.

Please visit http://www.nspnetwork.org/national-slavery-and-human-trafficking-prevention-month to access free resources on preventing human trafficking in your community.

[1] Nation, M., Crusto, C., Wandersman, A., Kumpfer, K. L., Seybolt, D., Morrissey-Kane, E., & Davino, K. (2003). What works in prevention: Principles of Effective Prevention Programs. American Psychologist, 58, 449-456.

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Written by: Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations

By now you have probably seen, heard or read a great deal about human trafficking – what it is, who the victims are and where they are.  Here are just a few statistics NSPN would like to share with you:

  • In 2014, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.  Of those, 68% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.
  • The Polaris Project reports that there is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S.
  • Polaris estimates that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.
  • According to DoSomething.org:
  • The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
  • California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas on the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
  • The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

How does Safe Place fit into this issue and how can it help youth that are being trafficked or at risk for trafficking?  Safe Place is a national youth outreach and runaway prevention program with a presence in over 1,500 communities in 37 states.  National Safe Place Network partners with licensed local agencies to provide quality and consistent Safe Place outreach services making the Safe Place logo a familiar and recognizable symbol for youth in crisis situations needing immediate help and safety.  The national safety net that has grown across the United States since the Safe Place program started in 1983 has helped over 329,000 youth at Safe Place sites or by phone. The Safe Place TXT 4 HELP initiative has had almost 54,000 texting situations, including 2,904 interactive texting incidents.  Almost 13.5 million youth have heard a presentation about Safe Place and local services available for youth and families in crisis!

Safe Place can connect youth in need to immediate help and supportive resources:

  • Safe Place is a national program – a young person in an unfamiliar place may recognize the Safe Place logo from “home” and utilize a site to get help.
  • TXT 4 HELP can also be a way for youth to access help. Text the word “safe” and a physical address including street address, city and state to 69866 and local resources will be sent. Interactive texting with a professional counselor is also available.
  • National anti-trafficking groups can disseminate information about Safe Place and TXT 4 HELP
  • Local/national agencies may partner with transit associations that have electronic message boards inside their vehicles and post a Safe Place message.
  • Promote Safe Place/TXT 4 HELP:
    • Bus stations, 24 hour eateries like Waffle House, etc.
    • Truck stops and major trucking companies
    • Law enforcement/state patrols covering interstate highways
    • State highway departments/at rest areas
    • Businesses along interstates and known trafficking routes

Five Tips on Creating an Awareness Campaign

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month is coming up in January. We encourage you to join us throughout January as, together, we can increase awareness of human trafficking and combine our efforts to prevent it. Each week, we’ll highlight and share information on the following topics: About Human Trafficking, Raising Awareness, Human Trafficking Prevention, and Celebrating Survivors. The topics were created to make it easy for YOU to make a difference.

Want to start supporting this campaign before the official start date of January 1, 2016? Join our ThunderClap! ThunderClap is a platform that allows users to flood Facebook, Twitter with a shared message – at the same time. By joining, Thunderclap will automatically post the following message to your page on January 11, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. ET. It’s easy to join.  Just visit http://thndr.me/zDh2DU to schedule your post and join the nation in making some noise on social media to #EndHumanTrafficking.  Thunderclap Message: “I stand against human traffickers. People are not for sale. Together we can #EndHumanTrafficking.”

Watch for details in your email and on social media about how to participate in NSPN’s and FYSB’s #EndHumanTrafficking campaign.

If you’re planning on creating your own awareness campaign for human trafficking or another cause, check out some tips we put together for you. Feel free to share your campaign ideas in the comments below.

NSPN’s top Five Tips on Creating an Awareness Campaign

  1. Make a measureable difference. Don’t start planning until you have determined the specific outcomes you want to meet.  After you determine your outcomes, create a process that is tied to the outcomes. Your process should include lots of creativity and be designed to ignite and capture the emotion of your followers. Help your followers understand the value and purpose and make it easy for them to help you meet your goal(s).
  2. Be prepared to invest. Whether your goal is to raise awareness or raise funds, you need to be prepared to make a large investment to your campaign. Your key investment will be (or should be)… TIME.  The more successful you want your campaign to be, the more time and energy you will need to spend planning and managing it.
  3. Be the expert. Make sure you have done your research. Knowing and being ready to share the facts about your particular cause will make you a credible resource for followers. Followers want to support and be a part of something they feel will make a difference – not something that will fizzle out. If you know and share your expertise, you will help create a larger following which will help expand the reach or breadth of your message. Don’t hesitate to form a committee of experts. Collaborating with experts in the field will also broaden your following. Keep in mind – you should use this expertise to motivate your followers to get involved, share, or participate with other activities designed to help meet your campaign goals. Motivation v/s education will help carry your message further.
  4. Create (and stick to) a promotions timeline. Creating a timeline will help you prepare exactly what you need and when you need it. It will help drive the brainstorming process and creativity. When writing your piece for the website or a social media posting, you may think – “Oh, we should also create and include this type of image with this.” or “We really need to include a resource or article to go along with this message.” Following your timeline will help ensure you have time to prepare a powerful message.
  5. Share your message. Here are some actions you can take to help meet your campaign goals:
    1. Invite others to get involved.  Asking your stakeholders (partners, members, volunteers, etc.) as well as local businesses and organizations to get involved will help increase “man-power” and extend your reach.   Make sure to show your appreciation and support.  Keep in contact with them, encourage them to stay on track with the timeline, and offer them help and support with specific tasks.
    2. Create a website or page on an existing website dedicated to your campaign. Create a space that is a “hub” of information for followers to access and gain knowledge about the cause.  The page should inform what the cause is, how or who it affects, and offer ways followers can help meet your campaign goals.
    3. Get the word out. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Thunderclap, etc.) is a great platform to share your message. Make it easy for your followers by providing post samples they can copy and paste.  Create a hashtag for your campaign. You can also use direct mail, emails, or pass out cards or flyers on the streets of your community. Don’t forget to share your website or page for followers to learn about the cause.
    4. Submit a press release to media outlets (television, radio, newspaper reporters and editors).
    5. Host an event such as a walk, rally, or other event with a large group.
    6. Create and display posters/signs. Yard signs have been a successful option for many campaigns.
    7. Exhibit at or sponsor an event happening during your campaign.

Happy campaigning!

Helpful Resource from Polaris Project

Polaris Project, an organization leading the global fight to end modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, posted an article on their website intended to help enhance services provided for LGBTQ human trafficking victims.

Breaking Barriers: Improving Services for LGBTQ Human Trafficking Victims

Excerpt: “Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) may be disproportionately affected by human trafficking. They face higher rates of discrimination and homelessness, making them especially vulnerable to traffickers.”

Read the full article here: http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/resources/breaking-barriers-lgbtq-services

Polaris-logo

The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

Statement from Laurie Jackson, President/CEO of National Safe Place Network, on the introduction of the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act

“On behalf of National Safe Place Network members, licensed Safe Place agencies and runaway and homeless youth grantees, we are pleased this bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressmen John Yarmuth and Dave Reichert are working to advance needed updates to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. These updates will provide more flexibility and resources for agencies serving runaway and homeless youth across the country.

We applaud the efforts of the Congressmen and the National Network for Youth and their partners for leading this reauthorization effort and championing the needs of runaway, homeless and vulnerable youth.”

National Network for Youth Press Release: Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize RHYA Introduced in the House – April 15, 2015: https://www.nn4youth.org/press-releases/2015/04/15/rhytpahouseintroduction2015/

Senators Leahy and Collins Introduce the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA)

Earlier this week, Senators Leahy and Collins introduced the bipartisan Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (read more about the bill and track its progress here: http://1.usa.gov/1JTW89Q). Although there is no bipartisan bill yet in the House, National Network for Youth and partners are working hard to make sure that happens.

This legislation serves homeless youth through the following programs:

  • Basic Center Program provides grants to community and nonprofit organizations to support emergency shelters and services to reunite youth with their families;
  • Street Outreach Programs provides outreach services to at-risk youth;
  • Transitional Living Program provides housing and life skill support to older youth 16-22 years old.

These programs serve thousands of youth each year and are critically important in every state. In Federal Fiscal Year 2014, the Basic Center Program served 30,536 children in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. The Transitional Living Program served 2, 788 youth and the Street Outreach Program made contact with over 460,000 youth during the same time period. These young people often have nowhere else to turn when a crisis occurs.

The recently introduced legislation authorized funds to complete the National Study on the prevalence, Needs and Incidence of Homeless Youth in America – a study which will provide a better understanding of the size and needs of America’s homeless youth populations. The bill increases the length of stay for Basic Center Programs from 21 days to 30 days, allowing for addition access to reunification services. The legislation also includes a nondiscrimination clause that has already been adopted by programs across the country, ensuring housing and services will be provided fairly to youth.

This is a necessary step in providing services for homeless youth across the country.

National Network for Youth is circulating a sign-on letter to support this legislation. Read more about it and sign-on here: http://bit.ly/1yegkvy.

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month

How do we talk about Human trafficking in 440 words? We admit the topic cannot be fully covered in this limited space AND we encourage you to conduct further research and participate in trainings to further your knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery, which includes both sex and labor trafficking, where traffickers profit from the control and exploitation of people. Human trafficking exists throughout the US and around the globe. The use of force, fraud, or coercion is utilized to control people and thereby cause the person(s) to engage in commercial sex or provide labor services against their will. Sex trafficking occurs online, on the street and in places of business. Labor trafficking occurs in private residences, agriculture, sales crews, restaurants, etc.

Human trafficking is motivated by two crucial factors: high profits and low risk to traffickers. Human trafficking is based on the principles of supply and demand. It generates billions of dollars in profits for traffickers while victimizing children, youth and adults. Under U.S. law, victims of human trafficking are identified as: children less than 18 years of age induced into commercial sex; adults age 18 or more induced into commercial sex through force, fraud, or coercion; and, children and adults induced to perform labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion.

Human trafficking crosses all demographic boundaries; however, there are characteristics that increase the risk of being trafficked including, but not limited to, being: a runaway or homeless youth; a victim of domestic violence; being an undocumented immigrant; or, identifying as LGBTQ. Given the diversity of victim-survivors of human trafficking it is imperative to understand that there is no “cookie-cutter” approach to providing services.

Services for victim-survivors must be person-centered, trauma-informed and culturally sensitive. In order to provide effective services you and your team members need to be trained on the complex array of challenges victim-survivors of human trafficking face and techniques to assist the person address their needs and move toward recovery. National Safe Place Network created the Human Trafficking: Recognize, Respect and Respond (HTR3) project and has made it available through NSPS’s operation of the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center.  We can provide training and resources to assist you RECOGNIZE, RESPECT and RESPOND to victim-survivors of Human Trafficking. For more information please visit: www.nspnetwork.org or www.rhyttac.net. Please connect with us on Social Media at:  https://www.facebook.com/nspnetwork, https://www.facebook.com/rhyttac or https://twitter.com/rhyttac to keep abreast of all the resources and services National Safe Place Network and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center!