The month of January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, also known as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Throughout the month, organizations, agencies, and advocates shared information, hosted webinars, and promoted resources to help give you the knowledge and information you need to increase your understanding of this global and local issue.
Awareness to Action
Now that you know human trafficking is happening in our world, who is vulnerable, and what it looks like, you may be wondering what is it that you can do to make a difference. (And if you do need more information about these topics, we encourage you to invest one hour and earn your Human Trafficking Awareness Badge from Justice UTM!)
So, beyond awareness, what are your next steps? Where do you start?
Whether you are a business leader, a church member, a community volunteer, or an educator, the possibilities are limitless as to what you can do to help prevent and end human trafficking. You are needed, and you already have the skills, resources, and network to get started!
There is more than one way you can engage. Creative and innovative opportunities exist for you to take your passions, skills, talents, and resources and use them to bring awareness, come alongside a service provider, or support a survivor. Check out the examples below to see what prevention can look like for you and the impact you can have in your local community.
From equipping employees, clients, and customers to engaging in the community, businesses have an expansive reach. The business community is uniquely positioned to fill gaps in the anti-trafficking movement in ways that governments and nonprofits are not.
A local restaurant can post indicator signs with the national human trafficking hotline in their restrooms or become part of the National Safe Place program for youth in need of safety.
A tech company can partner with a program to offer apprenticeship or employment opportunities to survivors who have successfully completed an academy or program specific to human trafficking survivors. This type of partnership can also provide professional mentorship to survivors.
A retail shop can donate a percentage of their profits to a local program or carry products made by Freedom Businesses.
Churches are already serving in every community and know the needs of their community better than anyone. They are regularly interacting with people who may be vulnerable to human trafficking. They also are in a position to equip their leadership and mobilize church members to respond to the needs of their community. Each member of their congregation has an important role to play in preventing and ending human trafficking, as does their church as a whole.
Youth leaders can incorporate online safety by equipping leaders to create a safe space for youth to share how they are interacting online. Leaders can also make sure students are aware of red flags. Healthy relationships can also be incorporated into youth group discussions so that students do not fall prey to the tactics of traffickers that emulate abusive relationships.
Outreach ministries can train their volunteers on how to recognize human trafficking in youth on the street or in a local soup kitchen and further equip volunteers to identify and report what they see.
Churches can partner with local programs to host events or offer their space to organizations who need it for training.
Community civic and service groups are uniquely positioned because their membership is generally made up of every sector that is needed to address these issues and prevent them from happening. It is important for every community member to understand how they intersect with human trafficking and the resources they have that can be leveraged to help those in need.
Healthcare workers are on the frontlines and can be trained to know what the look for, what the health impact of trafficking is, and how to respond.
Youth-focused programs can incorporate mentors and business professionals to help vulnerable youth have a vision for their future by sharing their experiences and knowledge.
The transportation industry is on the roads and highways of every community and between every community, stopping at gas stations, rest stops, and depots. Bus drivers, truck drivers, and ride shares interact daily with passengers and can learn what to look for and how to report, as well as post notices about human trafficking.
From teachers to staff members to administrators, the education community is uniquely positioned to engage. Educators interact with students regularly, notice when students are not present, and are alert to behavior and environment changes that can make students vulnerable to human trafficking.
Teachers can learn the indicators of a youth who may be exploited, tactics that traffickers use to recruit in schools or through social media, and incorporate awareness materials into their curriculum.
Get started on your journey with Engage Together® resources specific to your role including Quick-Start Guides, Toolkits, and more at www.engagetogether.com/myrole. We are committed to supporting you on your journey from awareness to action!