Moving from Awareness to Action: How You Can Advocate for Healthy Relationships This Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Guest post by Hope Druckenmiller

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, also known as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Organizations, groups, and justice advocates shared a wealth of articles, resources, and knowledge that helped spread awareness and insight about human trafficking. (And if you still find yourself looking for a place to start, we encourage you to invest 1 hour of your time and take the free Human Trafficking Awareness course from Justice U.)

Now that you are aware, what is the next step? How can you apply the knowledge you have learned and move from awareness to action?

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

During the month of February, love and relationships are a main focus because of the Valentine’s Day holiday. February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month because unfortunately, not every relationship is a healthy one, and not every teen has knowledge of what a healthy relationship is and what it is not. Traffickers prey on vulnerabilities such as these by distorting love, resulting in the mistreatment and exploitation of kids and teens.

Teaching youth about healthy relationships is key and is a first step in moving from awareness of human trafficking to taking action. Whether you are an educator, a youth pastor, a parent, or a caregiver, we have resources and tools that can help you, right where you are, teach the teens in your life to develop healthy relationships, as well as recognize the signs of unhealthy ones.

No matter your role, a great resource to begin with is the Student Action Kit from the AFRJ Student Council. The Action Kit highlights resources from programs and organizations across the country and lists tangible ideas that can help you and the youth in your life learn, take action, and mobilize together this Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

What’s My Role as an Educator?

As an educator or member of school personnel, you are in a unique position to equip and empower kids and teens to learn about healthy relationships. Consider incorporating awareness materials into your curriculum or after school program, such as Discussion Series #1: Where Human Trafficking Happens and Discussion Series #2: What Human Trafficking Looks Like.

Blue Campaign, a national public awareness campaign created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, developed a 4-part animated video series that teaches students how to recognize and respond to indicators of human trafficking.

You can also download key resources, such as the Department of Education’s Protocol Toolkit and Engage Together’s University and Educators Toolkit, which will help you identify student vulnerabilities and the ways educators can practically engage to prevent and end human trafficking.

All of these resources and more are easily accessible through the My Role: Schools and Students page on the Engage Together website.

What’s My Role as a Member of a Church Community?

Churches and youth groups can offer a safe space for students to discuss topics such as healthy relationships, boundaries, and red flags. Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST) provides prayer guides, Bible studies, and other resources that can be used to start valuable conversations with teens in your small group or youth group about blind spots and vulnerabilities that can lead to exploitation.

Because of the online presence of today’s youth, internet safety is another important topic to address with students. Youth pastors, parents, and caregivers can download Engage Together’s Online Safety Toolkit to learn how to protect students online and talk with teens about how to use the internet safely and responsibly.

You can also introduce your students to the free 1-hour Human Trafficking Awareness course, which is the first course in the 3-part Learn How to End Human Trafficking Series from Justice U.

All of these resources and more are easily accessible through the My Role: Faith-Based & Church Members page on the Engage Together website.

The Goal: End Human Trafficking and Protect the Vulnerable

Human trafficking does not have to exist. But it will take all of us working together to end it.

When justice advocates from different sectors such as these connect over the common goal of equipping, empowering, and protecting teens and youth, a difference is made in the fight to end human trafficking. We at Engage Together look forward to supporting you in your journey from awareness to action.