I’m sure that at this point, many of you who have been reading and tweeting this blog have wondered what you can do to help fight human trafficking. I wondered the same thing, it’s one reason why I wanted to tackle this subject matter for Public Health Week, 2015. I have friends and colleagues who also have an interest in the subject and they are involved in many ways. Like I said in an earlier blog, from 4/3/15, after having dinner with one of my friends who is heavily involved in combating human trafficking in Summit County, Ohio, I was driving home and saw a young girl who was having difficulty walking in very high stiletto heals. She had on a white sequence dress that glistened in the street light glow. Walking next to her was an older man who was dressed in a black hoodie and drooping jeans. He had a hold of her arm and was dragging her along while she struggled to keep up. I watched her stumble a couple of times on the uneven sidewalk and he seemed impatient. I slowed down and looked directly at them, she looked at me and he ignored me. I seriously thought about stopping and asking her if she was okay and if I could help her. I almost turned the corner to stop at the cross street right in front of them. But then a little voice told me to just get a good look at them and call the authorities. I got up to the next stop light and called 911 to report it. I have no idea what happened or if it was a trafficking situation, however, I’m glad that I called and was proactive. I’d rather be wrong and have called, than to have been right and not done anything at all. This blog is my attempt to disseminate information, increase knowledge and awareness and to hopefully educate people on the subject of human trafficking. It is just one way that I’m attempting to do something to help fight human trafficking.
The U.S. Department of State lists 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking. Here are 15 of those ideas:
1. Learn the red flags that may signal a human trafficking situation: Living with an employer, poor living conditions, multiple people in a cramped space, inability to speak to anyone alone, answers that are scripted or rehearsed, signs of physical abuse, submissive or fearful, unpaid or paid very little for labor, under 18 and in prostitution. If something seems off, take action and call the proper authorities.
2. Keep the number to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 800-373-7888, in a place where you can use it. Save it on your phone, write it on a card and keep in in your wallet or vehicle. It is a 24/7 number and you will be connected with someone within your service area. You can also use this number to find training in your local area, get technical assistance and find resources. Call you local authorities or federal law enforcement directly to get help from the Department of Homeland Security at 866-347-2432 (24/7). You can also submit an online tip at http://www.ice.gov/tips
3. Be a conscientious consumer. Discover your slavery footprint at http://www.slaveryfootprint.org/#where_do_you_live . Also, you can look at the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor at http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/pdf/TVPRA_Report2014.pdf . Lastly, you can encourage companies to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their chain stores. You can do this at the following link: http://www.chainstorereaction.com/ . As a consumer, you can also purchase items made by trafficking survivors such as: Made By Survivors, http://madebysurvivors.com/ . Half The Sky Movement, http://www.halftheskymovement.org/pages/buy-for-good . Fair Trade Designs, http://www.fairtradedesigns.com/made-by-women-rescued-from-trafficking/ .
4. Incorporate human trafficking information into your professional life through conferences, associations, trainings, manuals and other informational and training materials. Try the following links to search for human trafficking materials and programs: Institute for Human Education, http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2012/01/19/resources-for-teaching-about-human-trafficking/ . Anti-Slavery, http://www.antislavery.org/english/what_we_do/education/resources_for_education/secondary_lesson_plans_activity_sheets/trafficking_lesson_plan_and_activity_sheets.aspx . MbAbolitionists, http://mbabolitionists.org/resources/curricula/ . Stanford Global Studies, http://shrei.stanford.edu/node/473 .
5. Join or start a grassroots anti-trafficking coalition. There are many coalitions in the U.S. and Ohio. Here is a list of some of those resources that you can work with: National Organization for Victim Assistance, http://www.trynova.org/ . Victims Assistance Program of Summit County, Ohio, http://www.victimassistanceprogram.org/ . The Justice League of Oho, http://www.thejusticeleagueohio.org/victim-assistance-programs . Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, http://www.ovc.gov/map.html . National Human Trafficking Resource Center, http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/ .
6. Meet and write to your local, state and federal representatives about combating human trafficking in your community and beyond. The following links will provide you with resources to find your representatives: Open Congress, https://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup . Common Cause, http://act.commoncause.org/site/PageServer?pagename=sunlight_advocacy_list_page . USA Government Made Easy, http://www.usa.gov/Agencies.shtml .
7. Distribute public awareness materials. Materials for use and distribution can be found at the following sites: Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/programs/anti-trafficking . Department of Homeland Security, http://www.dhs.gov/topic/human-trafficking . The Polaris Project, http://www.polarisproject.org/outreach-and-awareness-materials . National Human Trafficking Resource Center, http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/get-involved/outreach-and-awareness .
8. Volunteer to do victim outreach or offer your professional services. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center offers a link to find an organization near you where you can volunteer and offer your professional services: http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/states .
9. Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization in your area or organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization. http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/states . This is a great fundraising cause for class reunions, graduating class projects, school projects, fraternity and sorority philanthropic causes and many other organizational fundraisers.
10. Encourage your local schools to partner with students and include the issue of modern day slavery in their curriculum. The Fredrick Douglass Family Initiatives offers curriculum ideas for schools: http://www.fdfi.org/ . As a parent, educator, school administrator or professional, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children. The following is a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Education on human trafficking of children for schools. factsheet
11. Follow this blog, set up a Google or Yahoo alert to receive current human trafficking news. Find web sites and blogs to follow on human trafficking. If you have a Google or Yahoo account, you can set it up so that you will receive the most updated information on a specific topic. Just go to your Google or Yahoo account and search alerts. Then put in the key words on subjects you want to receive updates on.
12. Host an awareness event at an organization or group you belong to, or at your place of employment. Incorporate human trafficking information and initiatives into current workshops, group initiatives, trainings and other areas. Set up a guest speaker from a local organization to come and speak to your group or organization on human trafficking. Use the following link to find local anti-trafficking organizations: The Ntional HumanTrafficking Resource Center, http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/states . If you are an educator, encourage students to research and create an awareness event on human trafficking. The following link from the United Nations has a listing of human trafficking documentaries that can be used for awareness and educational purposes: http://www.ungift.org/ungift/knowledge/resources.html .
13. Start a letter writing campaign, or write your own letter to local media, newspapers and legislators. If you are an educator, encourage your students to start a letter writing campaign on human trafficking.
14. Start or sign a human trafficking petition. Petitions can be found at the following site: Change.org, http://www.change.org/topics/humantrafficking .
15. The following are ideas for different individuals and organizations:
- Businesses: Provide internships, job skills training, and jobs to trafficking survivors.
- Students: Take action in your school or campus. Join or establish school clubs, awareness campaigns, fundraisers and other initiatives.
- Educators: Utilize human trafficking curriculum and incorporate into your class teachings. Start school campaigns on human trafficking.
- Law enforcement officials: Join or start a local human trafficking task force.
- Mental health or medical providers: Offer low-cost or free services to human trafficking victims who are being assisted by local anti-trafficking organizations. Train your staff to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to identify the indicators of human trafficking, to assist victims and to make referrals to supporting agencies.
- Attorneys: Look for signs of human trafficking in clients. Offer pro-bono services to trafficking victims or anti-trafficking organizations.
U. S. Department of State: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/