Human trafficking is a critical community issue that has become the abolitionist movement of the 21st Century. It is time for everyone to move beyond declarations.
What You Can Do
- Gather information in your community: What is the nature of the problem? Local data is a powerful tool. Design your action plan and training around the problem in your community.
- Create a resource directory that includes international, national, state, and local organizations focused on human trafficking—a simple web search will produce a number of links. To start with, refer to the Polaris Project for state-by-state resources.
- Asset-map your community: What skill-sets and resources can you mobilize locally to stop human trafficking?
- Identify existing task force efforts in your state and local community. If none exist, organize a working group or task force that would include federal, state, and local law enforcement. Involve probation, parole, and relevant NGOs. Look at the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force as a model approach.
- Train all law enforcement personnel and raise awareness about the issue. As appropriate, dedicate specific law enforcement staff—for example, gang units or those working with victims of crime.
- Conduct information workshops for local policymakers and agency leaders.
- Meet with local human-service organizations to understand the reach and scope of problems for families, schools, and the broader community.
- To avoid duplication, ask who in your community is already working in this space. Then, create a partnership whenever possible.
- Volunteer to serve on local task forces, coalitions, and other organizations working in this area.
- Promote education and training from law enforcement and community-based organizations to better inform yourself and your organization of trafficking’s complexities. You may want to host these training sessions.
- Don’t forget faith-based organizations. They are already heavily involved in providing intervention and treatment, and they can provide strong support systems for survivors.
- Connect with organizations like the Polaris Project. There are many, and they are great resources for training and materials. Don’t reinvent the wheel!
- Educate local organizations about the needs of victims/survivors and how you, as a community, can best intervene or assist. DO NO HARM!
- Create a safe haven for victims who have been exploited or for laborers who are coerced to work in factories or fields. A safe haven must be a judgment-free zone, and you must be advocates for survivor restoration to health, family, and community. A safe haven should include staff or volunteers with experience in post-traumatic stress or crisis-counseling. Domestic violence shelters should be staffed by individuals with experience in crisis-counseling. Use faith organizations (their facilities and community centers) as safe zones to report and access rescue and restoration resources.
- Facilitate reunification (only when it is safe to do so) with family and friends of survivors. Use community-based organizations to assist in this process.
- Advocate for an employment database to help survivors find meaningful employment and build a journey toward independence.
- Understand the individual victims and survivors with whom you are working. Use an informal survey process to identify family history, employment, and education backgrounds—get to know them!
- Reach out to local educational institutions, such as community colleges, vocational schools, public-school systems, and specialized programs for employment training.
- You can advocate for rescue, but you must also become a resource for individuals who have been emancipated.
- Think big, but act small. Small interventions like providing shelter, clothing, food, and education all happen locally. Law enforcement can be the champion for these services and create a bridge between prevention and enforcement.
- If none exist, create visibility around these issues by using billboards and other media that advertise that your neighborhood is a safe zone, free of human trafficking. Let perpetrators and the community know you have ZERO tolerance for trafficking.
- If none exist, create a local hotline to report trafficking of any kind or use the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888).
- Implied in all of the above is a need to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with public officials and other organizations working to end human trafficking. Step out from individual silos and isolated action to connect with others.
- Take informed action that can be measured, and don’t do this work alone! Work with people who have knowledge and expertise. Working in isolation can do more damage than good.
- Organize a community summit, bringing together key players and leadership to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat sex- and labor-trafficking in your community.
Learn more at James E. Copple’s Community Policing Dispatch article: Modern-Day Slavery: Community Policing has a Blueprint for “Walking the Talk”.