Resources to Help Prevent and Raise Awareness about Youth Trafficking

A young person stands outside in the evening.

Many of the youth served by Family and Youth Services Bureau grantees are at risk of being trafficked. Some traffickers are adept at spotting youth who have histories of trauma or homelessness and exploiting their vulnerabilities by coercing them into trafficking situations. They control their victims with threats of violence and ongoing psychological abuse, making it especially difficult for youth to escape to safety.

During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month this January, organizations across the country raise awareness on how sex and labor trafficking impact children and youth, including steps staff and youth can take to prevent, identify, and intervene in trafficking.

Polaris, an organization working to end human trafficking, has several publications that empower people to detect or assist others in trafficking situations. Here are some of Polaris’ recently published materials:

Staying Safe: Tips for LGBTQ Youth for How to Protect Yourself and Your Community from Human Trafficking.” Published in November 2016, this 16-page toolkit helps youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) understand how they are vulnerable to exploitation, how to identify themselves or others as trafficking victims, and how to access victim services. The guide is written in a style that makes it easy for young people to evaluate their situation. In the section, “Signs You May Be Experiencing Human Trafficking,” for example, the third sign is, “Someone makes you feel extreme emotions in order to control you: sometimes they tear you down, calling you names like ‘trash,’ while other times they build you up by calling you names like ‘queen.’”

Sex Trafficking and LGBTQ Youth.” This 3-page brief published in May 2016 provides a short introduction to the commercial sexual exploitation of young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). In addition to defining sex trafficking, the brief explains why homeless and LGBTQ youth are vulnerable to trafficking, Safe Harbor Laws that can protect them, and ways to identify victims. The brief also offers guidance on what providers should do when they encounter youth they suspect are being trafficked. The end of the brief provides recommendations for LGBTQ advocacy organizations that want to do anti-trafficking work.

Promising Practices: An Overview of Trauma-Informed Therapeutic Support for Survivors of Human Trafficking.” Over the course of five years the staff of Polaris New Jersey and the Sanar Wellness Institute identified six healing modalities that have supported trafficking survivors during their recovery, specifically in processing their traumatic experiences and building resiliency. In the 16-page report published in November 2015, the authors provide information to help other organizations start their own therapeutic programs, such as expressive arts therapy and mindfulness. For each modality the authors provide an overview of the intervention, patient outcomes in their program, challenges encountered during program implementation, and recommendations for agencies seeking to provide that modality for clients. For example, clients found it difficult to cultivate a yoga practice at home because they didn’t own items like yoga mats or blocks. The authors recommend that yoga instructors teach clients modified versions of yoga poses so they can practice at home without special equipment.

Knocking at Your Door: Labor Trafficking on Traveling Sales Crews.” The exploitation behind traveling sales crews is the second most reported type of trafficking behind domestic work. Polaris reviewed over 400 reports of suspected labor trafficking made to their hotline and textline as well as data from legal records, government documents, and various media platforms to draft this report. Outlining how the sales crews operate and the characteristics of their business networks, the authors include victims’ stories and quotes to help readers fully understand the plight of labor trafficking victims who have worked in traveling sales operations. The authors recommend that social service agencies be prepared to address victims’ needs once they leave the sales crew, such as a place to stay and money for transportation to travel back home.

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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