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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Trafficking in Person (OTIP) has released the Core Competencies for Human Trafficking Response in Health Care and Behavioral Health Systems. Research shows that individuals who are experiencing trafficking are likely to seek health care during or around the period of their exploitation. These core competencies pinpoint skill sets that health care and behavioral health practitioners (HCPs) should acquire to identify, respond to, and serve individuals who have experienced trafficking and individuals at risk of trafficking.
Health care providers have a valuable role to play in the identification of human trafficking victims and the provision of their physical and psychological care. Read the article here.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center (NHTTAC) is offering free training about trafficking as well as offer resources, and information about COVID-19 in the field on their website. They also offer SOAR Online – a series of on-demand continuing education/continuing medical education training modules that you can complete in your own time. They discuss the SOAR framework, how to apply it to identify individuals who are at risk of, currently experiencing, or who have experienced trafficking and connect them with the resources they need. Access the full CE/CME information and start your online training.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf announced the opening of the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking, the U.S. government’s first-ever integrated law enforcement operations center directly supporting federal criminal investigations, victim assistance efforts, intelligence analysis, and outreach and training activities related to human trafficking and forced labor.
The center, which has been operational since early September, is based in Washington and led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a global leader of criminal investigations into human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The center will be staffed with law enforcement officials from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and across DHS, as well as subject matter experts and support staff from 16 DHS components—all focused on the “4 Ps” of the center’s mission: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships.
“Human trafficking is modern day slavery. There is no other way to say it,” said Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. “The words are strong because the actions are evil. The forms of exploitation, sex trafficking, forced labor, and domestic servitude that constitute human trafficking are antithetical in every way to the principles of human dignity that Americans hold dear. The launch of this Center for Countering Human Trafficking represents the investment of resources, attention, and time by President Trump to combat and dismantle all forms of human trafficking.”
On Jan. 15, Wolf signed and released the DHS Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, the Importation of Goods Produced with Forced Labor, and Child Sexual Exploitation (https://www.dhs.gov/publication/strategy-combat-human-trafficking-importation-goods-produced-forced-labor-and-child) which pledged to bolster DHS efforts to combat human trafficking and forced labor.
“Human Trafficking, whether through sex or labor, is a detriment to our society and threatens the moral conscience of our nation. Criminal organizations target those who are most vulnerable and exploit them through any means necessary, Victims are treated as commodities rather than human beings, with no regard for their health and well-being,” said ICE Senior Official Performing the Duties of Director Tony Pham. “ICE, along with our internal and external partners, will continue to fight against these atrocities and answer victims’ cries for help. The Center for Countering Human Trafficking will serve as evidence that when we work collectively against such heinous acts, we combat the threat they pose to national security and to public safety.”
ICE’s HSI has long been a global leader in investigating human trafficking and sexual exploitation cases and bringing offenders to justice. The Center will build on the agency’s “victims first” approach, which balances victim identification, rescue and support with prevention, investigation, and prosecution of traffickers. ICE HSI is uniquely positioned to utilize criminal, immigration, and trade-based authorities to proactively identify, disrupt and dismantle cross-border human trafficking organizations.
In fiscal year 2019, ICE initiated 1,024 human trafficking and forced labor related cases which led to 2,197 criminal arrests. These effective actions resulted in nearly 700 convictions and the rescue of more than 400 victims.
Reporting suspected sexual or labor exploitation can help decrease or stop further victimization, as well as lead to the identification and rescue of other possible victims. To report suspicious activity or instances of sexual abuse or exploitation, contact your local law enforcement agency. Tips can be submitted online at https://www.ice.gov/tipline, by phone at 866-DHS-2-ICE or by contacting your local ICE office.
For more information about the Department of Homeland Security’s overall efforts against human trafficking, visit http://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign
by Jenn Lukens
Human trafficking, as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “involves force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” Referred to as a form of “modern-day slavery,” human trafficking occurs in every state and is not limited by the size of a community. While there is debate about the exact dollar amount, the industry generates profits into the billions, making it one of the most profitable crimes in the world. It has been identified as a public health concern by researchers, federal agents, and healthcare professionals alike.
Click here to read part one of a two-part series on human trafficking in rural America.
Jan 31, 2020 — The President issued an executive order on combating human trafficking and online exploitation of children. Describes the federal government’s commitment to strengthen its responsiveness to human trafficking, prosecute human traffickers, and protect victims of human trafficking and exploitation.
The Administration on Children and Families created SOAR to Health and Wellness Training to create a community-level public health approach to individuals who have experienced trafficking. SOAR – an acronym for Stop, Observe, Ask, Respond – provides an online training curriculum in English and Spanish with course credits available. Resources and trainings for indigenous populations are available through SOAR for Native Communities.
Human trafficking can happen anywhere and to anyone. Sometimes it takes place at the hands of someone the victim knows.
In Pennsylvania, state agencies and organizations are working together to put an end to human trafficking within the state and nationally.
Human Trafficking is the most rapidly growing organized crime in the world. In 2016, 40 million people were victims of human trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 10,949 cases called in in 2018.In Pennsylvania, The Hotline receive 630 contacts regarding human trafficking in 2018, with 275 cases reported. These numbers are not indicative of the full scope of victims, since not all cases are identified or reported.
What is Human Trafficking?
Adults and children can be trafficked or enslaved and forced to sell their bodies for sex. People are also trafficked or enslaved for labor exploitation, for example to work on a farm or factory or in a house as a servant, maid, or nanny and receive little to no money for their work 10-16 hours every day of the week. The crime of human trafficking must involve the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
PennDOT is one of the first transportation agencies in the country to train employees to recognize the signs of a potential trafficking situation and how to report it to the authorities. To date, PennDOT has trained 564 driver license and welcome center employees, as well as almost 15,000 transit agency employees in human trafficking awareness. In 2018, PennDOT took the USDOT pledge to “Put the Brakes on Human Trafficking” and became a member of the National Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking initiative.
Visit PennDOT’s human trafficking landing page for more information on the initiative and helpful links.
Get the Facts & Spot the Signs
Polaris provides resources for human trafficking prevention and tracks data that can be used for targeted systems-level strategies to disrupt and prevent human trafficking. They provide myths, facts, and statistics to help better explain what human trafficking is and dispel common misconceptions.
Keep Kids Safe provides additional information on human trafficking in Pennsylvania, as well as how to spot the signs of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
If you witness or are a victim of human trafficking, get in touch with the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Call 888-373-7888, or text “BeFree” to 233733.
The Pennsylvania Office of Victim Services provides help for victims of human trafficking who need to find local service programs, financial assistance, or visa assistance.
Download and print human trafficking awareness posters from the Pennsylvania State Police
The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded more than $100 million in funding, through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), to combat human trafficking and provide vital services to trafficking victims throughout the United States. For a complete list of individual grant programs, award amounts, and jurisdictions that will receive funding, visit the DOJ webpage here.