Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Congrats to the 20th Train the Trainer class!

Congratulations to the 20th class successfully completing the Train the Trainer two-day intensive workshop on Human Trafficking. Great members of Task Force teaching, dedicated, in quest of new knowledge, and passionate participants...what a combination.

- Jane White, Director, MI Human Trafficking Task Force

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month which is an exciting, crazy month for anyone working in anti-trafficking efforts. Why is it crazy? Try searching "human trafficking" on sites like EventBrite or Facebook Events. You'll find a TON of events happening in your community every week! This is an exciting time for us working in the anti-trafficking movement because it gives us a chance to spotlight an issue we care about every month. Advocacy occurs every day, all year long for task force members however, it isn't every month we have such a captive audience! At the end of the day the most important responsibility during this month is to make sure survivors' voices are at the core of all the awareness events and conversations. 

Take Action: 

  • Find an event in your community during January (or ANY month!). 
  • Start a conversation! Share a news article on Facebook, attend an event with a friend, visit the Polaris website to get informed! 

Lauren Vollinger is a doctoral student in the Ecological-Community Psychology program at Michigan State University and a member of the Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence

Friday, February 17, 2017

Fighting Hunger to Fight Sex Trafficking

To understand human trafficking, it is important to understand the underlying causes and risk factors. In September 2016, the Urban Institute released a study, "Impossible Choices: Teens and Food Insecurity in America." The report reveals a link between food insecurity and sexual exploitation. Teens suffering from hunger, mostly girls, are exchanging sex for food or for money to buy food.

The study included teenagers from low-income families in 10 communities. The teens, ages 13-18 years old, participated in 20 focus groups. One of the most consistent findings showed that teens engaged in risky behavior due to food insecurity. Hungry teens begin to strategize on how to save food - from regularly eating at a friend's house to going without food themselves. Oftentimes, teens would engage in criminal behavior - from stealing food to selling drugs - to help feed their families. The teens reported that they would much prefer to earn money through formal employment than engage in criminal behavior but employment opportunities were hard to come by given their young age and their geographic concentration in high poverty areas.

Finally, in all 10 communities, researchers learned that teens (mostly girls) exchanged sex for money or food. Oftentimes, this was discussed in terms of a "transactional dating relationship," where the line between dating and prostitution was blurred. "Dating" frequently occurred between young girls and much older men. Such behavior was normalized in high poverty communities where teens witnessed their mothers making these same choices, and children saw teenagers doing it as well. Though risky, it may seem safer than the perceived alternative of stealing or selling drugs. Other exploitative behavior such as offering sexual favors to strangers and stripping were reported in 7 out of 10 communities.

The study concluded with strategies to help alleviate hunger and steer teens away from illegal behavior. These include increasing food benefits to families at home and at school, and offering more job opportunities for youth. The report calls for additional training for educators and criminal justice officials in recognizing trauma to provide trauma-informed interventions to treat girls who are sexually exploited so that they do not end up in the criminal justice system.

Take Action: Get educated. Learn more about the link between food insecurity and sexual exploitation.  Support policies that help fight hunger. By fighting hunger we also help to prevent sex trafficking.

Kimberlee Hicks is a representative of the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force membership committee. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Gift for Teens

Happy Valentine's Day! Celebrate the holiday by purchasing a special-rate ticket ($10) for a teenager to attend the anti-trafficking production, Among the Darkest Shadows, on Sunday February 19 at the Wharton Center. Your gift will be appreciated and could help keep a teenager safe. 

If you would like to sponsor a teenager to see this powerful performance, please mail your contribution to MHTTF,  PO Box 81163, Lansing, MI 48917.