National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Does human trafficking feel vague or obscure, a crime that happens in far off lands no where near your own community? Unfortunately, the facts tell us otherwise. Human trafficking can and does take place in all 50 states here in the United States, and impacts people of all backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, genders, and life experiences.

January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month, a month in which organizations across the country partake in awareness raising activities to educate the general public about human trafficking.

Awareness efforts like these are often the necessary first step to driving a culture shift and to identifying and responding to the crime. While media efforts are well-intentioned, they can often perpetuate stereotypes of the most extreme sensationalized scenarios instead of shedding light on the vast and diverse experiences of the survivors with whom we work.

This month, become an anti-trafficking ambassador by accomplishing the following:

  1. Learn more about human trafficking. That means making sure you know what common myths and misconceptions are, finding out more about both sex and labor trafficking, reading books by survivors (Walking Prey or Girls Like Us, to name a few), or watching films and videos such as Very Young Girls, the Office for Victims of Crime’s Faces of Trafficking series or the Men of Atalissa. Did you miss STOP-IT’s very own Humans Against Trafficking campaign? Catch up on STOP-IT’s awareness posts from 2016 here, here and here. Or, get a better grasp of the issue through art, poetry and reflection by survivors in the awareness magazine Voices from the Field: Surviving and Thriving After Human Trafficking, compiled by the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force. Knowledge is power.
  2. Attend National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month events.  A list of local events in the Chicagoland area can be found here.  Not in Illinois? Search for local organizations doing anti-trafficking work and see if they have awareness events on their calendars.
  3. Spread the word – and what you’ve learned. Why not share what you know? Bring people together to watch the aforementioned films or put together your own little brain trust to figure out how your expertise or professional backgrounds might be an asset to the anti-trafficking movement. Are you a social media buff? Throughout January, the Office on Trafficking In Persons will be sharing new messages, data, and signs of trafficking on the Administration for Children and Families Twitter account. Follow @ACFHHS on Twitter and retweet related messages. On January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a unified message will be posted to all supporters’ social media accounts through Thunderclap. This crowdspeaking platform will amplify your message, which means exponential impact!
  4. Any event you plan this month to spread the word can be coupled with fundraising efforts to benefit survivors. The STOP-IT Program provides vital crisis response, case management and drop-in services to survivors all year long. Donate to the STOP-IT program here. Wondering what other social service organizations exist in this area? Take a look at our list of local task force members who provide services to survivors (this list is not exhaustive, but it’s a start!).
  5. Reflect on your own consumer footprint. Take a quick quiz at Slavery Footprint to get a sense of just how much you might interact with forced labor. Then, research the brands you love by determining their ethical standards (Know the Chain might help). Finally, hold companies accountable by asking them to join efforts to reduce the risk of forced labor in their supply chains.

As the President proclaimed to announce the start of this month, “we resolve to shine a light on every dark corner where human trafficking still threatens the basic rights and freedoms of others.” Join us.

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