Detroit is prime for human trafficking, and girls are getting caught up in the clutches and underworld of the commercial sex industry. It isn’t random or by accident. The city is plagued with major issues. Hardcore baseline problems are found within the city’s economy and education system. Contributing as a third factor for the easy exploitation of girls is Detroit’s positioning as an international border.
Deena Policicchio, Director of Outreach and Education Service at Alternatives for Girls (AFG), has been in the helping business at AFG for close to two decades. AFG provides services to girls needing respite and resources from predators. Human trafficking falls under the agency’s core area services, which include an after-school program that aims to build strong family units and strong positive peer relationships. Girls enter the program at age 5 and stay through age 19. Planned activities help build skills to avoid becoming involved in human trafficking situations. The AFG Shelter Program recognizes that within 72 hours, a girl or boy who is homeless will be approached for a sexual situation. Policicchio says that once in the shelter, the activities serve to reduce negative behavior and reinforces the notion of the family unit. Component Safe Choices is a project that works with girls and women already in the sex industry. Offering street outreach, case planning, exiting sex work/advocacy and awareness building. The goal of AFG is to make sure girls and women are not exploited.
Detroit is ripe for targeting young girls, “It is who we have been for a long time. We have a struggling education system that leaves people behind, and an economy that does not provide for its people.” There is historical sexism towards women in the city of Detroit, and we create an environment where people can come, take, hurt and exploit our women, and we don’t do much about it.” The stark reality of Policiccho’s words hit hard. They explain in frank terms how easily girls are turned out.
Here are some bare facts:
The Audience Holds the Cash
We call women who are trafficked “bad people.” “Society,” Policicchio explains, “is what needs to be changed.”
Raising Awareness around Human Trafficking
People can talk about trafficking and challenge it. You can connect girls in trouble to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. (1-888-373-7888.) It will lead girls to support services in their community. Give time or money to support those working to end trafficking
to organizations dedicated to protecting girls.
Check List for Girls
Girls need not share all of their personal information on the first date. When given compliments say thank you, and move on.”
Stop befriending everybody. Don’t let strangers follow you on social media. Don’t give out all of your information.
Employ Safety Tactics When Out and About
When you go to bars stay together — don’t put your drink down or get in cars. If your life is in immediate danger call 911. Trafficking and exploitation are not only carried out by males. The crimes are also perpetrated by women.
Tips for Parents
Parents can help keep girls safe by allowing for open communication. Make sure children want to talk to you and have clarity on family values. Don’t let them get away with free-will computer use. Monitoring needs to continue through the teenage years. The same rules apply for cell phones. As a parent paying the bill, you have the right to information. Parents should be consistent with curfews. If they have new clothing without a job, question it. Inquire about items you have not purchased. Fight for your children.
It can’t be communicated enough that the vast number of people who are introduced into the sex industry are introduced by someone they know. Rarely are they kidnapped. When Pinocchio talks to her girls about perpetrators, it is a boyfriend or someone they met online.
Learn more at C. Imani Williams’ The Harlem Times article: Protecting Our Daughters from Human Trafficking.