The happiest people are those who do the most for others. The most miserable are those who do the least.
Booker T. Washington. 1856 – 1915. Educator.
The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
We may not have the ability to change all of the world’s wrongs, but we can make a difference where we are.
Dillon Burroughs. Activist, Author.
- Blog: Read updated information on trafficking, abuse, trauma and treatment.
The reviews are written by the STOPP website staff, or by Guest Reviewers.
- Online Gaming: The Newest Weapon of Human Traffickers: Part 2Written by STOPP Website Staff (12/10/2018)
In part one of this three part story the dangers of human traffickers using online gaming forums were introduced and covered briefly with the hope of educating the public about this new and very real threat. Now it is time to talk about those who are threatened and those who have become victims of online gaming menaces.
Online multiplayer action survival and building games, like Fortnite and Minecraft, are great places to interact and play games with your friends or people all over the world. But they also pose severe risks to children and teens. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) stated that it believed these games were putting children at risk of online grooming. One report even states that a mother overheard attempts to groom her own 10-year-old son through his Xbox videogame console as he played Fortnitewhile sitting next to her. She heard an adult male address her son by name through her TV speakers and ask her son questions about sex.
The virtual building blocks game, Minecraft, is no different. The premise of the online mega-game franchise Minecraftis simple. Perhaps that is one of the reasons millions of children across the world are attracted to the game. But as a court in the United Kingdom has heard, the Minecraft world being created by Adam Isaac was not a virtual playground to explore imagination. His world was a trap – a trap to lure young real-life prey into conversation and to abuse. Isaac has now been jailed for two years and eight months for sexually grooming two children, persuading them to carry out sexual acts and exposing himself online. He met them through Minecraft, but the game is just one of scores of internet video multiplayer games attracting children and adults alike in their millions every day, every hour, every minute, everywhere.
A recently released film is showing the horrific story of how a 14-year-old boy was lured to his death by older man he met online gaming. Breck Bednar was murdered by Lewis Daynes in 2014 in England. Four police forces have teamed up to produce “Breck’s Last Game”, which aims to educate and protect boys from online grooming. The short film, which will be rolled out in schools across the country, explains how the teenager played games online with friends, on a server run by his killer. Daynes, then 18, groomed Breck over 13 months before luring him to his flat where he fatally stabbed him.
If this young man was at risk for innocently playing video games and trying to make friends then so are the millions of kids who do the same. The reason police are encouraging individuals to watch Brock’s story is not to just scare them and make them horrified for the rest of the day, it is give these kids the warning that kids like Brock never received. That warning is that there are real dangers in these virtual worlds. Criminals like predators and human traffickers love low risk meeting places like online gaming because they can remain faceless while grooming possible targets and do not have to show themselves until meeting a victim face to face.
For more information on the efforts and warnings by the NSPCC visit: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/online-games-helping-children-play-safe/
For more info on online gaming grooming by criminals visit: https://www.teensafe.com/blog/predators-groom-children-gaming-online/
For the full story on the Minecraft case visit: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4140316/Adam-Isaac-22-groomed-two-young-boys-Minecraft.html
For the full story on Breck’s Last Game visit: https://leics.police.uk/news-appeals/news/2018/09/19/brecks-last-game-film-warns-of-dangers-of-online-grooming
- Online Gaming: The Newest Weapon of Human Traffickers: Part 1Written by STOPP Website Staff (12/07/2018)
When you hear about incidents of human trafficking you may think the victims were approached or kidnapped in public by someone that observes them from afar. But with ever-advancing technology and the rise of social media behemoths, a new and disturbing threat has been forming: online gaming. A creation whose purpose always seemed pure, gaming through the Internet allows you to talk to and game with someone across the street, across town, across the country, and across the world. According to a 2013 study, over 1.2 Billion people play video games across the globe and 700 Million of those are gaming online.
But like most things that grow in popularity it is only a matter of time before certain individuals have malicious intentions and human traffickers are no different. Everyday, children in your community are being targeted, snared, and manipulated into a world of sexual exploitation. They are groomed, enticed, and sometimes physically forced into selling themselves for sex. It is called Human Trafficking. It is modern day slavery without the chains and shackles of a century ago, but it is real and happening right under our noses.
According to the U.S. based International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, about 750,000 sexual predators worldwide are online at any given moment. They are not just the child molesters and sexual deviants that one might imagine but instead criminals with the intention to enslave and sell human beings. And now they have discovered that online gaming is an ideal place to remain faceless and interact with children and adults from all over the world. Gaming has become a perfect place for traffickers to groom possible victims as a first step to enslaving them. According to experts, Grooming involves befriending children, mostly aged 11 to 15, to gain their trust, before luring or coercing them to send sexual images or videos of themselves, which are shared online on password-only group networks and websites.
After starting a seemingly innocuous online friendship, children sometimes go on to meet their virtual ‘friend’ in hotels, cafes or parks, which can lead them to being trafficked and sold online. A third of all internet users in the world are under 18, according to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, which has trained more than 10,000 law enforcement officers and specialists to investigate child sexual abuse. Children are being targeted in a place where they do not even realize they are at risk of anything beyond trash talk from fellow gamers. Experts say that children of previous abuse or who come from poor and broken homes are the most likely to fall prey to traffickers who prowl online gaming forums like Fortnite, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto.
For more information on the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children check out their site: https://www.icmec.org
For more info on online gaming and human trafficking check out the following links:
- After the Rescue: A Plea for Restorative and Complete TreatmentWritten by STOPP Website Staff (11/14/2018)
As a clinical psychologist, I have over the years treated women who were trafficked or sold through prostitution, sometimes by their own parents, beginning in childhood. The slavery causes untold damage to self-esteem, confidence, and independent ability.
Human slavery impacts the victim in a myriad of ways. There are medical and physical issues, including wounds, burns, and fractures. Gastrointestinal conditions include Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn’s Disease, weight loss and malnutrition. Reproductive issues include sexually-transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and forced abortions, genital trauma and sexual dysfunction.
Of course there is a wide array of psychological problems, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and suicidal ideation, and self-harming behaviors. Victims experience fearfulness and anxiety, insomnia and night terrors, flashbacks, hostility, eating disorders and hyper-vigilance. There are attachment disorders and difficulties in parenting their children. Victims of trauma also experience depersonalization or derealization, feeling detached from others, from reality, or even from themselves. They experience distortions in their experience of time and/or distance. Dissociative disorders include memory loss, and Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly called Multiple Personality Disorder).
We can also see high risk behaviors, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, and impaired social skills. There can be delayed physical or cognitive development if the trafficking began in childhood. Also, the victims often bond with their traffickers or with other victims in the trafficker’s “stable’ of women, increasing the chance of recidivism.
The pathology, medical and psychological, for these patients is complicated and extensive. In addition, as a clinician, I am aware that healing from this trauma cannot occur as long as the victim is continuing to be traumatized. Rescued victims need a safe, broad, trauma-based, and thorough treatment program in order to successfully reenter society and to be able to work and parent independently. They need ongoing social support even after the treatment program formally ends.
The good news is, as many more people are becoming aware of human trafficking, more and more children and women are being rescued, and many more traffickers are being arrested. Unfortunately, the bad news is, we have too few treatment beds for these rescued victims. (Go to our blog dated 12/20/2017 to see actor Ashton Kutcher, co-founder of Thorn, testify before Congress. He talks about the need for more treatment facilities for this population.)
Most current facilities keep the rescued women for three to six months and try to prepare them for jobs. Often, the psychological trauma is not treated. Recidivism is high because the women are not given enough time and treatment to heal. They are not given enough time and services to successfully reintegrate into society or into their communities. They are not given ongoing social support and so are drawn back to the “community” of their lives of prostitution, because that is the only “community” that they have had for years. Without proper services, the women return to their traffickers.
A great deal of time, energy, funding, risk and concern goes into rescuing these women and children. If we do not initially give them what they need to STAY rescued, we create a revolving door, wasting precious resources and discouraging those women who make the daring decision to trust us and to make the dangerous decision to leave their traffickers.
I have long had a dream of a restorative home for women and minors who are rescued from the hell of human slavery, a home that would meet all of these needs under one roof. Please contact me if you wish to support this dream.
To read about the experiences of a rescued trafficking victim, written by her rescuer who tried to provide needed services, please see the link below:
- Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking in a Healthcare SettingWritten by STOPP Website Staff (11/01/2018)
It is often said that healthcare workers are on the front lines in discovering victims of human trafficking. Beyond assessment, clinicians are also in a position to confidentially provide information and resources to trafficking victims that they would not be able to obtain in their everyday surroundings, information that would help them to leave the life. Anyone in a healthcare setting may be in a position to recognize human trafficking — from clerical staff to lab technicians, radiology technicians, nursing staff, security, case managers, and physicians.
But given that most victims do not disclose their status in clinical settings, it is critical that healthcare employees be sensitive about engaging patients, employ trauma-informed practices, and be aware of the indicators of trauma and trafficking.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) has published Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking: What to Look for in a Healthcare Setting. This 4 page paper lists Indicators to look for in a healthcare setting, and visible consequences of trafficking. It describes how to conduct an assessment, and steps to be taken if trafficking is indicated.
This publication would be helpful in training all employees of a healthcare setting, from clerical, administration, and security, to clinical staff.
- New California Laws Target Human Trafficking With Transit, Hotel WorkersWritten by STOPP Website Staff (10/24/2018)
New California Laws Target Human Trafficking With Transit, Hotel Workers
LOS ANGELES — Two new California state laws will require workers in certain industries to go through training to identify human trafficking as a package of legislation that advocates expect will help the state address the issue.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law two new bills aimed at addressing human trafficking on September 27th. The bills require human trafficking awareness training in industries where workers are likely to encounter trafficking victims. The laws are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, with training to be complete by 2020 for hotel and motel workers and by 2021 for transit workers.
One of the bills requires transit employees to undergo at least 20 minutes of human trafficking awareness training. The bill would require the state’s bus, rail and light rail intercity transit agencies and businesses to train employees to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to report possible trafficking to authorities. One measure in the legislation amends existing state law by requiring hotel and motel employers to provide workers with the same type of training.
Ruth Silver-Taube, supervising attorney of the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, a group that supported the hotel-training bill, said in an email that both laws are expected to result in increased identification of trafficking survivors.
“Given the pervasive nature of human trafficking and the limited ability of law enforcement to identify and intervene in these cases, reporting from people on the ground is a valuable tool to combat the problem and protect survivors of human trafficking,” she said. “Transit workers and hotel workers are in a unique position to identify human trafficking, and the training will arm them with the knowledge and awareness to detect human trafficking.”
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, California has had the highest number of reported cases of human trafficking in the country over the last six years. Last year, 1,305 cases were reported in California. Besides legislation California has been tackling human trafficking by increasing policing and forming statewide task forces. This January one raid alone lead to the arrest of more than 500 suspects and the rescuing of 56 victims during a statewide crackdown on human trafficking by a task force made up of 85 federal, state, county, and local law enforcement and nonprofit community organizations.
Human trafficking of men, women and children for labor and sex purposes is getting more attention as a serious problem throughout the country and the federal government, several states, and private businesses are stepping up to combat the issue.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is seeking individuals to serve on a special committee that will provide information, advice, and recommendations on matters relating to human trafficking and recommended best practices for state and local transportation stakeholders in tackling the issue.
The U.S. Department of Justice named the state of Kansas as an “originating state” of human trafficking as its own attorney general reported over 475 victims of human trafficking in 2017 alone. Because of this the state signed into law a bill, to take effect this July, that would require all existing holders of and new applicants for commercial driver licenses, such as truckers, have to complete human trafficking training.
Truckers themselves have actively played a role in combating the crime, including creating coalitions like Truckers Against Trafficking, who teach commercial drivers to spot acts of human trafficking during their travels.
Other transportation industries have also worked toward stopping human trafficking. A number of airports post signs encouraging workers and travelers to report activity that could be human trafficking. Jefferson Lines, a Minneapolis-based transit company operating in 14 states, has been training all 210 of its employees to recognize the signs of human trafficking leading to the discovery of multiple cases of the trafficking.
For more information on the new California laws visit the following sites:
For more info on trafficking issues in Kansas visit:
And for more info about the work of Truckers Against Trafficking check out:
- Michigan Kids StoryWritten by STOPP Website Staff (10/18/2018)
123 Missing Children found in Michigan during sex trafficking operation
Over 100 children were found safe during a one-day sweep by multiple Michigan law enforcement agencies, the US Marshals Service said Wednesday.
The agency said Operation MISafeKid recovered 123 missing children Sept. 26 throughout Wayne County in a sweep aimed to identify and recover missing children and locate victims of sex trafficking.
The operation had 301 case files for missing children open before the sweep, which was the first of its kind in Wayne County, according to the report.
All recovered children were interviewed by authorities about possibly being sexually victimized or used in a sex trafficking ring and officials said three identified as possible sex trafficking cases.
The report said one homeless teenage boy had not had anything to eat in three days, so authorities transported him back to their command post for food and turned him over to Child Protective Services for aftercare.
In addition to the missing children in Michigan, officers in the operation obtained information about two missing children in Texas and another in Minnesota. Those cases are being actively investigated, officials said.
“The message to the missing children and their families that we wish to convey is that we will never stop looking for you,” the US Marshals Service said.
Several agencies were involved in the operation including the US Marshals Service, Michigan State Police, Detroit Police Department, Wayne County local law enforcement, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.
As of 2016, Michigan had seen a increase of 16% in reported human trafficking cases so the state has stepped up their game in tackling the issue.
For the full story check out: https://nypost.com/2018/10/09/123-missing-children-found-in-michigan-during-sex-trafficking-operation/
For the full press release from the U.S. Marshalls Service go to: https://www.usmarshals.gov/news/chron/2018/100318.htm
For more information on Michigan trafficking statistics go to:
Truckers Against Trafficking Visits Limestone Township, PA
When truck drivers are on the road, they stay overnight at truck stops all over the country. Sometimes these drivers encounter underage girls who are in dangerous situations.
Truckers Against Trafficking is an event held all over the country. On Wednesday, employees at Great Dane Trucking near Danville toured the traveling display. It teaches people in the trucking industry what to do if they ever encounter a human trafficking situation.
When truck drivers are on the job, they are paying attention to the road and their deliveries. But in recent years, they’ve started paying attention to something else: human trafficking.
John McKown is a UPS freight driver and was approached by a teenage girl one night while at a truck stop.
“Instead of helping or doing what I should do, I just said, ‘No, thank you,’ and just went back to bed,” John McKown said.
Recently, McKown went through training called “Truckers Against Trafficking.” The traveling exhibit educates the trucking community about reporting human trafficking.
This week it is at Great Dane Trucking near Danville.
Great Dane employees walked through the exhibit, which provides a glimpse into the realities of human trafficking, and how drivers can help.
“It blew my mind. It really hit home. I have small children,” Buddy Harris said.
Organizers say since Truckers Against Trafficking started in the last decade, they have trained over 600,000 individuals andgotten more than 2,000 calls into the human trafficking tip-line from truckers alone.
“That’s led to the recovery of over 1,000 individuals,” Van Dam said.
“I didn’t know that I could call a hotline, but now I do. I got trained by Truckers Against Trafficking,” McKown said.
For the full report and video visit: https://wnep.com/2018/10/10/truckers-against-trafficking/
For more info on Truckers Against Trafficking check out there site: http://truckersagainsttrafficking.org
- President Trump’s Crucial Speech against Human Trafficking on Oct. 11, 2018Written by STOPP Website Staff (10/17/2018)
President Trump’s Crucial Speech against Human Trafficking on Oct. 11, 2018
President Trump had vowed a year ago to fight human trafficking and since then, the Department of Justice and the FBI have arrested record numbers of traffickers. President Trump spoke at the White House on October 11, 2018 to a gathering of people from various U.S. agencies and departments who have been fighting trafficking. One of the guests was Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) who was the Chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations when they moved the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA) through Congress. This bill enabled the investigation and taking down of backpage.com, the largest trafficking site worldwide.
In this speech, President Trump renewed his vow to stop modern slavery.
- National Campaign to Detect and Deter Human Trafficking Introduced in the Virgin IslandsWritten by STOPP Website Staff (09/28/2018)
National Campaign to Detect and Deter Human Trafficking Introduced in the Virgin Islands
The Blue Campaign, a nationwide initiative to combat human trafficking that was originally promoted in all fifty states, was launched on September 20th in the U.S. Virgin Islands with training sessions hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The U.S. territory is made up of three islands in the Caribbean, totaling 133 miles square miles and located forty miles east of Puerto Rico. In the past, the Virgin Islands have had trouble with both sex trafficking and the trafficking of stolen babies.
Young women are forced into prostitution for a tourist base. This is a continual problem due to the Virgin Island’s poor economy that relies so heavily upon tourism and a police force that is underfunded and unequipped.
Another trafficking problem is caused by couples so desperate to adopt a child in the U.S. Virgin Islands that babies are stolen from nearby Caribbean islands.
The victims of human trafficking can be found in numerous and varied places throughout the islands, often hiding in plain sight.
Members of the U.S. Department of Justice and The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) head up the Blue Campaign and spread its message around the country. DHS facilitator Scott Santoro, who has helped to get the word out about the Blue Campaign and helped lead roundtable discussions about the issue, addressed the training session by saying, “There are so many crimes around human trafficking… Victims of human trafficking live under an intense control environment.”
“Trafficking victims move through the world under supervision. They are not allowed to speak to others, including those who might be in a position to help them,” DHS special agent Louis Penn, Jr. added.
The Blue Campaign Authorization Act was put into effect in February of this year. The campaign, made up of federal officials, works in collaboration with local law enforcement, government, non-governmental, and private organizations in teaching communities about human trafficking and combating the issue.
To view the entire article published in the Virgin Islands by St. John Source, go to the following link: https://stjohnsource.com/2018/09/16/national-campaign-to-detect-and-deter-human-trafficking-introduced-in-the-v-i/
For more information on the Blue Campaign, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s link: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign
For more info on Virgin Island trafficking issues check out Tom Bolt’s article. Bolt is chair of the Virgin Islands Uniform Law Commission and the Advisory Board of The Salvation Army, St. Thomas Corps. : http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/opinion/humans-should-never-be-for-sale/article_cc2622e3-b13a-5ba3-8a6b-d8f2a2dd6c02.html
- How to Spot Human Trafficking by Kanani Titchen – TEDxGeorge SchoolWritten by STOPP Website Staff (09/10/2018)
How to Spot Human Trafficking by Kanani Titchen – TEDxGeorge School
Kanani Titchen, M.D. is an Adolescent Medicine Fellow at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, New York. She is co-chair of Physicians Against the Trafficking of Humans (PATH), an anti-trafficking committee of the American Medical Women’s Association.
In this talk, Dr. Titchen describes her growing awareness of human trafficking as she advanced through her early career in medicine.
Since her eyes were opened to trafficking, Dr. Kanani has trained other physicians about trafficking. She has written articles for medical journals and for the lay press about child sex trafficking and the education of physicians.
This speech was given at a TEDx event.
- Training Opportunity: Sexually Exploited Children and AdolescentsWritten by STOPP Website Staff (08/16/2018)
Training Opportunity: Sexually Exploited Children and Adolescents
- October 22, 2018 in King of Prussia, PA: Crowne Plaza Valley Forge
- October 23, 2018 in Mount Laurel, NJ: Westin Mount Laurel
- October 24, 2018 in Wilmington, DE: Double Tree Wilmington
Registration: 7:30 am. Program begins: 8:00 am. Program ends: 4:00 pm.
Continuing Education Credit for Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Assistants, Psychologists, Social Workers, etc.
$199.99 per person for 2 or more preregistering together, or single registration postmarked 3 weeks prior to seminar date.
Register online: pesi.com/express/64544
Register by phone: 800-844-8260 with credit card
Register by fax: 800-554-9775
Register by mail: PESI, PO Box 1000, Eau Claire, WI 54702-1000
Sex Trafficking of Youth
- Legal and Clinical Definitions
- Risk Factors for Sex Trafficking
- Adverse Childhood Experiences
- Average Age of Entry
- Lack of Psychosocial Development
- Specific Vulnerabilities
- Limited Support in Environment
Assessment and Red Flags
- Tools or Screening
- Indicators of Trafficking
- Psychological Underpinnings of Entry to Trafficking
- Understanding Traffickers
- Grooming Victims
- Why Victims Stay and Why They Return
Treating the Trauma of Trafficking
- Evidence-based Treatment for Traumatic Stress
- Strengths-based Treatment
- Trauma-informed care v. Trauma-specific Services
- Treatment Matching for Different Types of Trafficking
Post-Traumatic Growth: Transformation from Victim to Survivor
- Discover Strengths by Working Through Trauma
- Resiliency v. Post-traumatic Growth
- Critical Questions: Perceived v. Actual Growth
- Case Examples: From Trauma to Recovery
Potential Treatment Obstacles and What to Do About Them
- Lack of Trust in Providers and Law Enforcement
- The Power of Trauma Bond
- Risk of Returning to Trafficking
- Instability of Care
Legal and Ethical Considerations
- Contradictions Between Client-centered Practice and Legal/Law Enforcement Needs
- Laws That Impact Trafficking Victims
- Safe Harbor Laws
- Age of Consent for Minors
- Prosecution of Trafficking Cases
- Role of the Clinician in Supporting Clients’ Rights to Self-determination, Safety, and Well-being.
- The Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking ActWritten by STOPP Website Staff (07/30/2018)
A Polaris report that was based on data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified over 800 persons who were victimized by human trafficking through 2015, 2016, and 2017. All were in the United States working under temporary work visas. According to Polaris, “the temporary work visa system is badly broken.”
The individual work visa system is a patchwork of laws and regulations. There is a lack of transparency in the system, and a lack of accountability. Workers fall through the cracks and become victims of traffickers.
The Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018, H.R.4777, has been sponsored by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL-21). The bill has been introduced but has yet to pass either the House or the Senate. On 01/24/2018, it was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. It is currently in subcommittee in the House of Representatives.
Please urge the US Congress to pass the Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018. The Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking Act would modify data reporting requirements, and insure that the federal government keeps organized records on all temporary visa holders AND THEIR EMPLOYERS. This information would be publicly available. Thus, the temporary workers would be less likely to become vulnerable to exploitation.
Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to support this bill.
To find and contact your US Representative, go to www.house.gov and sort by your zip code, or scroll down for the address and phone number of the US House of Representatives.
To find your US Senator, go to www.senate.gov and sort by state.
- Operation Broken HeartWritten by STOPP Website Staff (07/15/2018)
The US Department of Justice is rigorously going after child sex offenders, and in a recent national sting operation called Operation Broken Heart, they were able to arrest more than 2300 child sex offenders and save 383 children. The operation was conducted over March, April and May of 2018 by Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces. ICAC task forces are located in all 50 states and are comprised of more than 4500 state, federal, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.
During the three months of the operation, the task forces investigated more than 25,200 complaints of technology-facilitated crimes against children. They also delivered more than 3700 educational presentations on Internet Safety to over 390,000 youths and adults.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated, “No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse. And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated the spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production. Any would-be criminal should be warned: this Department will remain relentless in hunting down those who victimize our children.”
For more information on Operation Broken Heart and on the ICAC task forces, read the complete article at the US Department of Justice webpage at the following link:
You can also visit the ICAC Task Force webpage at https://www.icactaskforce.org
Information on your state’s involvement in Operation Broken Heart is available. See the information at the end of the above article.
- I AM Little Red FilmWritten by STOPP Website Staff (07/01/2018)
The following information is taken from the official website of I Am Little Red, a ten-minute animated short film that is aimed at children who are most at-risk for being victimized by human trafficking. The film is available from many media sources, which you can find on the film’s website at https://www.iamjanedoefilm.com
I Am Little Red is the idea of Linda Cabot, a key funder of I Am Jane Doe, a documentary about three middle school girls who were victims of human trafficking, and their families’ fight against Backpage.com, the online classified site where they were sold. (For more information about the movie I Am Jane Doe, see our blog dated 03-28-2018 for a review and description of the film.)
Linda saw prevention as a goal of the I Am Little Red project, hence her choice of the animated short film genre, suitable for viewing by children. The target audience is children most at-risk for sex-trafficking, e.g., foster-care, runaway, homeless, LBGTQ, and adopted children, with the goal of awareness and prevention. The film is written by 10 survivors of sex trafficking, 14 – 21 years old, and Mary Mazzio.
The film is a contemporary re-imagining of the classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. I Am Little Red addresses the four tactics a “wolf” (trafficker/pimp) will typically use to lure Little Red into danger.
Training materials are available with the film for education, and the film is already being introduced into agencies that work with at-risk youth.
Click on the link below for more information on the film and training materials, to view a trailer, or to order a copy of the film.
- Health Care Fight Against Trafficking
Advocates say the health care sector should do more to recognize and help the thousands of people who have been bought and sold in the U.S.By Gaby Galvin Staff Writer June 15, 2018, at 7:00 a.m.
The Health Care Fight Against Human Trafficking
Polaris, which operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, identified 10,615 victims of human trafficking last year, though that is likely only a fraction of the total victims in the U.S. (Getty Images)
A trip to the emergency room or local health clinic can present a path to freedom for a human trafficking victim – but only if the symptoms of their situation are seen.
Now, led by local community clinics and health organizations, a growing movement is seeking to bring victims of sex and labor trafficking out of the shadows by pushing for better awareness of who they are among health care workers.
“Doctors have been seeing these patients for a long time, but we just never had the terminology or awareness that this was human trafficking,” says Dr. Kimberly Chang, who works with minors trafficked for sex work at Oakland, California-based Asian Health Services.
Working in a clinic for underserved teenagers, Chang began to recognize a troubling pattern: Patients sometimes had bad bruises, were regularly intoxicated, came in repeatedly for sexually transmitted infections or were angry or shut down. She says she “just kind of treated their medical issues” for a while – until she realized some of these issues could indicate the teens were being exploited in what’s been referred to as modern-day slavery.
Trafficking victims live across the U.S. and all too often are hidden in plain sight: at grocery stores and movie theaters, or visiting dentists and doctors’ offices. Because spotting them is key to stopping the abuse, advocates say doctors, hospitals and clinics should screen and treat potential victims of trafficking the same way they would approach someone who may have been a victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence – though doing so can be difficult.
“There’s not a clear consolidation of scientific symptoms that says, ‘This person is being trafficked,’ unlike, say, something like an infectious disease,” says Chang, who also is a co-founder of the HEAL Trafficking network, which takes a public health approach to the issue.
That same ambiguity applies to trafficking at large, as exactly how many people are sold for sex or labor in the U.S. remains a mystery. Polaris, a nonprofit that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, tallied 8,759 cases and 10,615 individual victims of human trafficking last year. The majority of victims were female, of adult age and trafficked for sex.
Yet experts say such figures likely represent only a fraction of total trafficking victims in the U.S. Many aren’t captured by formal statistics, and even fewer see their day in court.
“They’re incredibly challenging cases to prosecute for a number of different reasons, and one of them is the trauma bond with the youth,” says Dr. Kimberly McGrath, who runs a program for exploited minors through Citrus Health Network, a mental and behavioral health provider in South Florida. “But we do work with them to help them heal so that they can testify. The majority I would say (don’t end up in court), but we have had some success.”
Although more victims identified by Polaris came into contact with law enforcement than health services in 2017, advocates say health care professionals have a greater opportunity to intervene because they interact with potential victims more frequently, perhaps as they’re being treated for an illness or injury.
According to statistics cited by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, more than half of human trafficking victims visited an emergency department while they were being exploited, 44 percent came into contact with a primary care professional and more than a quarter saw a dentist.
Chang says all health care systems have a responsibility to address human trafficking, but community health centers – which serve about 27 million low-income or uninsured
Americans annually – play a unique role both in caring for the long-term mental and physical needs of those who have been trafficked in the past, and in preventing potential victims from ever reaching that point.
Some centers specialize in services for immigrants, seasonal farmworkers, homeless populations or those living in public housing. Because they see more marginalized groups that could be more likely to become victims, they have a special obligation to combat trafficking, Chang says.
“We’re a little bit different because we’re based on the ground in the community, in underserved communities,” she says. “We also have community health workers that are internal that help the patients navigate our system, and sometimes external, going out into the community. … As a system, I believe we’re much more integrated into the community and into the populations that we see.”
Still, many victims don’t identify themselves to health care professionals out of fear, shame or trauma. And while some providers have been striving to better recognize and serve human trafficking victims for more than a decade, most don’t know or are just now learning how to identify and care for them.
The challenge is compounded by the wide scope of trafficking victims, who can range from domestic workers whose passports have been confiscated to minors sold for sex.
“Who the victims of trauma are can be anybody,” says Jessica Sanchez, vice president of quality and operations for the Colorado Community Health Network, which represents 20 community health centers in the state. Since learning last year that Denver is a hub for human trafficking, her organization has been developing a framework to help clinic workers identify and treat victims.
“These patients are probably already coming to our health centers, so (we are) just trying to figure out how to identify them and then start to make partnerships in the community to refer them for housing and food and mental health care,” she says.
Doctors involved in anti-trafficking efforts say they need federal and state support, and that social services organizations and community groups also should be involved in developing a holistic approach to caring for trafficking victims, whose needs will vary. Someone being actively exploited may need legal services, housing or help dealing with substance abuse, while someone with trafficking in their past may struggle with depression or other mental health issues.
In January of 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center as a resource for health care, behavioral health and social service workers. It seeks to improve care for victims as well as reduce the risk of being trafficked for those who may be particularly vulnerable to exploitation, such as the chronically homeless, someone who’s been in an abusive relationship or a teen with an unstable home life.
To ensure fewer victims slip through the cracks in the criminal justice system, it’s vital that health professionals step up to connect them with services, says Dr. Anita Ravi, founder and medical director of the PurpLE Clinic at The Institute for Family Health, one of the largest community health centers in New York.
“In medical school … you learn that heart attacks kill people and what else kills people, but we’re not taught … that humans kill people,” Ravi says. “And I think in the situations that I’m facing, it’s very often that the worst-case scenarios are not, ‘Oh, she’s going to go back to the ER, or hospitalization.’ It’s death, incarceration or deportation.”
Ravi operates the PurpLE Clinic out of a health center in lower Manhattan several days a week for victims of trafficking, violence and human rights abuses. Patients initially came to the clinic after other health organizations identified and referred them to her, but about a year and a half ago, they started coming in on their own, Ravi says.
She stresses the importance of understanding how patients’ social needs are tied to health outcomes. The five topics she always asks about – food, housing, employment, legal services and transportation – have helped her identify patients who may have been trafficked in the past or are at risk of becoming victims.
“I may have thought it was a domestic violence referral, and maybe it is now, but they had a history of trafficking, or their ex-trafficker is harassing them from jail and they’re waiting for them to get out,” Ravi says. “It has those kinds of complexities, so one form of trauma sometimes lends itself to identifying others, depending on where people are.”
Identifying victims can be half the challenge. Traffickers often manipulate their victims to keep them under control, so doctors should insist on seeing patients while they’re alone, even if that means calling a translator by phone if they speak another language, Chang says. And anyone vulnerable to trafficking should be screened for victimization, especially if they appear physically injured or abused.
Medical providers should look for a combination of factors to identify potential victims, including an inconsistent or seemingly scripted backstory, a lack of control over their money or time, or frightened or nervous behavior, according to a guide from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which is operated by Polaris. Health professionals then can connect them with other services in a sensitive and patient-centric way.
“I have had people who are in active trafficking situations, similar to domestic violence, where if someone is ready to leave the situation, we’re able to connect them to right services – lawyers, housing, community-based organizations,” Ravi says. “Sometimes if they’re not sure, at least they know how to get ahold of us and know they can always come to see the doctor.”
Teenagers especially are hesitant to identify themselves as victims of trafficking, McGrath says. Her clinic works with 12- to 18-year-olds in Miami-Dade County, which she says is a hotbed for trafficking due to “a lot of factors: the travel and tourism, South Beach, the weather, the music industry.”
To identify potential victims of trafficking, McGrath’s clinic looks for signs like whether a teen has frequently run away from home or has returned home with expensive items they can’t explain. Tattoos and other markers, as well as multiple instances of sexually transmitted infections or pregnancies, also can be indicators.
“This is a public health issue, so we need health care providers to not only be trained in identification, but then linkage and follow-up and support for this population,” McGrath says.
Having a close eye on the community also is key to identifying victims and removing them from dangerous situations, advocates say. But health care’s role doesn’t end with recognizing someone is being or has been exploited.
“The health care system right now, understandably so, is very focused on identification of survivors,” Ravi says. “What I think my role in this movement is, ‘OK, you’ve identified someone. What does long-term care look like for this population?’ There’s no data out there on what a sixth visit looks like, or lifespan or quality of life, or what the mental health issues long-term are.”
Gaby Galvin, Staff Writer
- Uber Combats Human TraffickingWritten by STOPP Website Staff (05/30/2018)
Uber has partnered with national organizations to combat human trafficking through the education of its drivers. Uber is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, EPCAT USA, the McCain Institute, and now Polaris, which sponsors a National Hotline. Uber drivers have saved children from the horror of human trafficking through their recognition of the signs of trafficking.
See the article below from the Uber Newsroom on what Uber is doing to educate its drivers.
And remember, do not try to intervene yourself, as traffickers are dangerous. Call the Hotline, or call your local law enforcement.
Click on the link below to see a video about an Uber driver who saved a 16 year old girl from human trafficking.
- Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)Written by STOPP Website Staff (05/01/2018)
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended, is likely the most important anti-trafficking law ever passed. Its definition of trafficking is still used today:
A human trafficking victim is a person induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion.
Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was used.
The TPVA combats human trafficking through a policy of the “Three Ps”:
- Prevention: includes raising awareness of the inhumane practices of trafficking, and seeking to reduce the “benefits” to the traffickers.
- Protection: identifying victims, providing medical care and shelter, and when appropriate, repatriating them.
- Prosecution: passing laws that criminalize trafficking, and jailing the traffickers who exploit others for profit.
The TPVA made human trafficking and slavery a federal crime, and addressed sex crimes, forced labor, involuntary servitude that is tied to a debt, seizing a person’s documents and withholding them, and peonage. By the authority of the TPVA, victims can obtain temporary legal immigration status, medical care, financial restitution, and sometimes witness protection.
According to the TPVA, the United States State Department publishes a list of nations and their efforts against Human Trafficking. The Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report ranks the efforts of countries to combat human trafficking in four Tiers.
The TPVA has been amended and added to in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013.
The TPVA expired in September 2017. Not only does the TPVA provide the legal foundation in the United States to fight human trafficking, but it authorizes the federal funding needed to provide anti-trafficking programs and resources to support and treat and protect victims and survivors of this horror, both in the United States and internationally. Please contact your members of congress and urge them to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) as quickly as possible.
For more information on the TPVA, including definitions and details of the amended laws and benefits to victims, please click on the link below.
- Alaskan Airline Stewardess Saves Trafficking VictimWritten by STOPP Website Staff (04/16/2018)
This story is taken from The Sun, dated February 6, 2017. To quote the stewardess and others, “If you see something, say something.” Human traffickers are dangerous people and usually armed. Do not try to intervene on your own. But if you see what looks like Human Trafficking, do contact the authorities and allow them to take over. This is a story of a stewardess who did just that.
As a result, Airlines for America, the trade group for American air professionals, is offering anti-trafficking training for airline personnel.
For more information on the Alaskan Airline Stewardess, please click on the link below.
- SESTA Passes in the US SenateWritten by STOPP Website Staff (03/28/2018)The United States Senate has passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). Kudos to Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who moved this bill through the Congress.
This bill updates the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which inadvertently protected websites like Backpage.com when they purposely advocated and facilitated online sex trafficking. The Senate Permanent Investigations Committee, chaired by Senator Rob Portman, was able to prove that Backpage.com knowingly advised traffickers as to how to word their online advertisements to skirt the law in order to sell minors for sex through the Backpage.com website.
SESTA is a major victory in the fight against slavery in this country, and a major victory in the fight for freedom for all of our citizens.
For more information on Backpage.com, the largest online market for slavery, and for more information on the Senate battle to stop them, see the resources below.
See the link to the Report: Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking, written by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Chairman Rob Portman (R-OH). Ranking Minority Member Claire McCaskill, (D-MO).Movie: I Am Jane Doe.
https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report%202017.01.10%20FINAL.pdf91% Rotten TomatoesGenre: DocumentaryRunning Time: 98 min.
American mothers battle sex traffickers and Backpage.com on behalf of their trafficked daughters. The film includes the history of Backpage.com, and there are scenes from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as they interview the owners of Backpage.com and investigate the website’s role in the selling of minor children for sex.Released 02-10-2017.Director: Mary Maggio
Please click on the link below.
- Medical Assessment for Human TraffickingWritten by STOPP Website Staff (03/14/2018)
Labor and sex trafficking are physically and emotionally demanding. Victims of human trafficking will likely seek medical attention at some time. In one study, 88% of trafficked victims reported seeking medical care while being trafficked. Every person in a medical setting, doctors, nurses, administrative staff, psychologists and psychiatrists, dental offices, health educators, all are in a position to identify and to educate and help a trafficking victim.
It would be so helpful if human trafficking became a routine part of medical screenings and medical education. These victims are less likely to be missed if they are being actively looked for. Please review the following information from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and share it with your medical center staff. Thank you for helping to end the scourge of this modern slavery.
- U.S. House passes bill to fight internet sex trafficking
People opposed to child sex trafficking rally outside of the Washington state Supreme Court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Olympia, Wash. The court was hearing a case filed by three victims who say the website Backpage.com helps promote the exploitation of children. (Rachel La Corte, Associated Press)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a measure Tuesday that would close a legal loophole that has let websites like Backpage.com avoid criminal prosecution and lawsuits for facilitating sex trafficking.
The bill adopted by a 388 to 25 margin would clarify that existing communication laws don’t protect websites that “unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and contribute to sex trafficking.” It would also establish prison sentences of up to 25 years for some online sex traffickers.
Courts previously ruled the Communications Decency Act of 1996 shielded the websites from liability because they merely hosted third-party content and didn’t create it.
The bill’s sponsor, Missouri Republican Ann Wagner, said it would “empower victims, equip state and local prosecutors, and ensure websites can no longer traffic children with impunity.”
“In recent years, sex trafficking has moved from the streets to the Internet,” Wagner said on the House floor. “I find it hard to imagine that if a neighborhood business hosted a slave auction, the auctioneer would not be considered liable.”
The lead Democrat on the bill, Rep. Joyce Beatty of Columbus, said it would provide “urgently needed” clarification of the law, while safeguarding Internet freedom.
All Ohio congress members backed the bill except for Miami County GOP Rep. Warren Davidson. Although Davidson was an original cosponsor of the bill and fully supports efforts to fight use of websites that facilitate sex trafficking, a spokesman said he believes the bill’s current incarnation “blurs the lines to benefit trial lawyers instead of combating sex trafficking.”
Davidson’s spokesman noted the Justice Department has expressed several concerns about the bill, including the fact that its provisions would violate the U.S. Constitution’s “Ex Post Facto Clause” by making behavior that occurred before its passage illegal.
A White House statement applauded the bill’s passage but said the Trump administration “remains concerned” about parts the bill the Justice Department flagged.
“The President looks forward to continuing to work with Congress in order to hold people who participate in human trafficking accountable for their horrific crimes,” the statement continued.
The House measure includes provisions of an anti-sex trafficking bill that Ohio Republican Rob Portman introduced in the Senate. His bill has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, but has not made it to the Senate floor.
An investigative report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Portman, found that Backpage.com was aware that sex traffickers and pimps used its services to promote child prostitution, and its claim to be a mere web host for ads “is a fiction.”
Portman and the Democratic co-sponsor of his bill, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, released a statement that noted their bill “has 67 bipartisan supporters in the Senate, as well as strong support from trafficking survivors, anti-human trafficking advocates and law enforcement, 50 Attorneys General, the civil rights community, faith-based groups, the Internet Association and its member companies like Facebook and Google, and courts and judges who have made clear that it is Congress’ responsibility to act to protect online sex trafficking victims.”
Portman said “other priorities” have kept the full Senate from voting on his measure, and he hopes the House bill’s adoption will prompt action.
“We know what the problem is, we know how federal law can be changed to address the problem and we really have to get it done,” Portman said in a conference call with reporters.
From the Episcopal News Service: The Anglican Church of Canada is fighting human trafficking and has formed a new discernment group and developed an online human trafficking hub with information and resources. “Crucial to this process will be identifying Anglicans involved in work against human trafficking,” the statement said, as they called on those working to eradicate human trafficking to contact them. To read the entire article, go to http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/lens/2017/08/01/canadian-anglicans-step-up-fight-against-human-trafficking
From The Intelligencer: State Rolls Out Human Trafficking Guidelines for EMS Providers. Bruises, infections, pelvic pain, chronic back pain, difficulty breathing, panic attacks — these are just a number of the complaints EMTs and paramedics treat patients for on a regular basis. But these are also some of the symptoms that point to a possible victim of human trafficking, making those victims look a lot like many of the people EMS providers are used to helping. So how do they tell the difference? To read the entire article, go to
- Upcoming Trainings: Dates, Times, Locations of trainings and seminars on Human Trafficking or abuse.
Trainings are listed in chronological order
September 29, 2017, 8 am — 1:20 pm. The Health Care Professional’s Role When Faced with Human Trafficking. Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Room 138. 1100 N. Stonewall Ave, Oklahoma City, OK. $50. Complementary for Consortium Employees. To register, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 30, 2017, 9:00 am — 4:00 pm. School-based Sex-Trafficking Prevention. Arizona State University, Downtown Campus, Westward Ho, Concho Room. 618 N. Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004. http://tinyurl.com/SchoolPrevention
October 11, 2017, 9:30 am — 3:30 pm. Hiding in Plain Sight — Unmasking Human Trafficking. Emergency Management Building, 185 Water Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701. Register by October 4, 2017. $25. Complimentary for members of The PA Association on Probation, Parole, and Corrections. Contact: Claudia.email@example.com
October 17, 2017, 9:30 am — 3:30 pm. Hiding in Plain Sight — Unmasking Human Trafficking. Westmoreland County Courthouse, 1st Floor. 2 N. Main St. Greensburg, PA 15601. Register by October 10. 2017. $25. Complimentary for members of the PA Association on Probation, Parlo9e, and Corrections. Contact: jhanley@pagov or firstname.lastname@example.org
October 20, 2017, 9:30 am — 3:30 pm. Hiding in Plain Sight — Unmasking Human Trafficking. PA Depot of Transporaiton, 7000 Gerdes Blvd, King of Prussia, PA 19406. Register by October 13, 2017. $25. Complimentary for members of The PA Association on Probation, Parole, and Corrections. Contact: email@example.com
October 27, 2017, 9:30 am — 3:30 pm. Hiding in Plain Sight — Unmasking Human Trafficking. PENN DOT Riverfront Office Center, 1101 S. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104. $25. Complimentary for members of The PA Association on Probation, Parole, and Corrections. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com