11 – The Frontlines of Ending Human Trafficking

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Sandra Morgan and Dave Stachowiak discuss what addressing human trafficking on the front lines actually looks like and the dangers of jumping in before you have studied the issues.

Key Points

  • Front line workers taking the form of law enforcement, social services, non-profits, and even individual advocates calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
  • In order to be most effective, you must study the issues and play your role.
  • Join a team, develop battle strategies, train and practice before setting out on the front lines.


[Note from the Ending Human Trafficking podcast team: This episode was recorded in 2011 so the contact information provided is no longer accurate. Please refer endinghumantrafficking.org/contact for the correct contact information to get in touch with the EHT podcast.]

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Dave: Hello everyone, you’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast, this is episode number eleven recorded in September 2011. Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast, my name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandie: And I am Sandie Morgan.

Dave: And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, it is getting towards the end of summer, and that means we are well into fall and that means the start of the new school year at Vanguard University.

Sandie: We are in full swing and its great to have students back on campus and my office is full every day because they want to do something to make a difference.

Dave: And it’s a good time for us to talk about before we jump in today’s topic on really looking into the frontline issues on how we can really fight against human trafficking, I thought we’d take a few minutes maybe to talk a bit about what the center is doing this year to really support advocacy against human trafficking, but also some of the other things you’re working on and the projects you’re involved with. The center had its first board meeting this week, and we all got together. I’m just tremendously excited about all of the things that the center has planned for this year, so I was wondering if you could maybe take a couple of moments to share with us and the audience a few things that you’re up to this year, in addition to the podcast and your teaching that the center is focused on.

Sandie: Well, over the summer we were able to host four women faculty from a Northern Iraq university, and one of the exciting aspects of that is we went to Washington DC, we were able to meet with a team from the Global Trafficking and persons office in the state department, and as a result of that, we’ll be able to develop some partnership research in that region on human trafficking.

Dave: It was really exciting to meet the women this summer and to hear their stories, really just an amazing group of folks we’ve had.

Sandie: And this is one of the key things about the Global Center for Women and Justice is through research and education we can impact our own community, our nation, and our world and make a difference, one of the things we’re doing locally, cause, of course, its exciting to see what we’re doing over in Iraq, but what about right here, and coming up in November, were going to host a homeless sleep-out to raise awareness about the issue of homeless youth, and right here in California according to state reports there are 200,000 juveniles 12-17 who are homeless. We want to raise awareness about that, attention, and dialogue because the prevention of homelessness among youth is a key factor in preventing the trafficking of youth.

Dave: And what is a homeless sleep-out? I’ve never been to one of those.

Sandie: well, were going to invite our students and anybody in our community to join us, to bring their sleeping bag and were going to have a contest for who can build the best cardboard shelter, were probably going to eat soup, we might figure out how to get some day-old bread for breakfast, but were going to figure out what it feels like to sleep outside, to not have a place to go home to.

Dave: So, really a lot of things on the agenda, and I know tons more that we don’t have a chance to talk about here today, but just a tremendous number of things that you’re doing not only on the local level here in Southern California but really across the globe to really be an advocate to women and men around this issue of human trafficking and doing it in a substantial, proactive way.

Sandie: And we’re really focusing on equipping people by providing training and education, training and education. Were already training our Live2Free students who are already scheduled to do the Orange County high school leadership conference called “Walk in My Shoes”, they’ll go to high schools and junior highs, equipping and training leaders in outreach, frontline service providers and nationally as well, so, that’s what we’re up to.

Dave: And this podcast is really that mission of equipping people and helping people to study the issues and educating this audience on what is it, what it means, what’s involved in human trafficking and the issues, but really understand how we can work against human trafficking and that’s what’s going to lead us into our topic today, what are some of the frontline things we can do.

Sandie: Exactly.

Dave: and as you’re listening you may have some questions for us, so if you have a question or comment about something we’re talking about today or you have a quest about human trafficking that you’d like us and Sandie in part to address in a particular show, please email us, you can reach us by email at gcwj@vanguard.edu or you can call (714) 556-3610 and the Center’s extension is 2242 and that way you can reach us and we can be of service to you so you can learn as much as you can about human trafficking so you can be of service to others, and that really does bring us right to our topic today, Sandie, of some of the frontline things people can do. So, I was wondering what do you mean by frontline activities?

Sandie: I am so excited to talk about this Dave because I have begun to understand that people often think the frontline is often around the victims of human trafficking, so I get calls a lot saying how can I help the victims, how can I go to a shelter in Thailand or Ukraine or Africa and help the victims, and I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why that was disturbing to me until I realized if I look at this from a battle strategy perspective, we are at war, were in the fight against human trafficking, then I have to redefine what is the front line. I’m a nurse, I know that we don’t keep our victims on the frontline, our casualties in war, we take them behind the frontlines and keep them I a safe place, and provide everything they need to get back on their feet. So the front line is not in victim services, we need lots of help with victim services. Where is the front line? That’s what we want to talk about. A few weeks ago I was in Las Vegas meeting with a few juvenile justice officials who are serving children, youth, who have been arrested for juvenile prostitution. That is the front line. I’ve been in Greece, where I first started working with human trafficking, and first walking down the street and seeing literally, children in the doorways of legal brothels, that is the front line. I’ve been to India, I’ve been to Thailand and I’ve been to Ukraine, and I see the front line there, but I also see the front line right here in Orange County, and when I spoke to local law enforcement recently and discovered that 16 girls underage, between 12 and 17, 16 within the last few months have been rescued from commercial sexual exploitation, and 13 of their pimps have been arrest and are being prosecuted, that is the front line right here. How do we do that better? That didn’t happen through building shelters, that happened through training and equipping front line service providers, that meant educating school nurses, to know what to look for, the risk factors, it meant providing law enforcement training to local police departments and sheriff departments so that they would be able to identify what this new law calls human trafficking, but is a very, very old crime. We had old laws that addressed these same issues and now we have new laws with more teeth, and we need to learn how to use those, and that requires training and education. But, for the everyday person who isn’t a law enforcement officer, who isn’t in a front line service provider position, where is the front line for that person. How about you? How would you identify your role in the battle against human trafficking?

Dave: For me personally, Sandie, my front line is right here. So, my front line is assisting you in hosting this podcast, because this is something that I can do with my technological know-how as far as how to get information out on the internet, how to write and edit and all that. I think I may have mentioned before on a previous podcast that I was actually thinking for a while, what was the niche for me to be able to serve, and to be able to help educate people, and I believe strongly in the power of education, and I know you’re a huge believer in that too Sandie, working at Vanguard and running the Center, and the more we can educate people, I know education has been phenomenally important in my life, as far as how I’m able to influence the world, and I think if were able to educate people well with this podcast, we can arm people with the resources they need to go out and make a difference, and if  I hearing you right, you’re saying it’s a worthy thing to go out and help victims, that’s something we need to do, and there needs to be resources, but that’s not necessarily ending human trafficking, that’s kind of the reactive step after a crime has been committed, and we need to serve those people and the people who do that are incredible, wonderful people, and we know many people who do that work, and in addition to that, if we really want to end human trafficking, which is the name of this podcast and its what were all really trying to do, its not enough just to serve victims, that’s the aftermath, so what can we do to be proactive? And I see my role in this podcast of helping to do that, I think your call to action today for all of us is, what are some of the ways and the tools that we can be proactive to be doing things to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Sandie: Exactly. There’s a great story from a mental institution in India, and they asked the director, how do you know when these people are ready to go home, you know when they’re sane. And they’re in a rural area, people aren’t very literate, and the director said its very simple, we take a bucket outside, we put it under the faucet, we turn the faucet on, we hand the patient a teaspoon, and ask them to empty the bucket. If they start emptying the bucket without turning off the faucet, they get to stay, but if they turn the faucet off first, they go home. And we are on the front line, and the front line is turning off the faucet. So we have to ID where the stream is coming from, where is the handle for the faucet, and there are a few key areas where people can find their place on the front line, using their skills as you have.

Dave: Okay, yeah. Let’s hear about them. What we do and what can the audience do that would start to address some of these areas.

Sandie: Demand reduction is huge. Dr. Laura Lederer of Global Centurion, and that’s globalcenturion.org has been a leading voice on demand reduction and in fact, has partnered with Vanguard’s Global Center back in 2007 for a demand reduction round table, and began to explore, what are the ways that we can reduce demand? Turn off the faucet? And there are lots of diff things we can do. Some of those things have to do with media, with the internet, with pornography, with child obscenity laws, how do we begin to raise up a generation of young men and women who respect the difference between male and female and don’t look at ways to exploit each other, how do we begin to do that? All of that is part of demand reduction. One of the areas that have been addressed in demand reduction has been in opening what they call colloquially, ‘john schools’, Norma Hotaling did one of the first ones up in San Francisco, and men who are arrested for soliciting prostitution are asked to go, required to go, as a first offender program to schools and learn about the harms of prostitution in an effort to reduce recidivism so that they wont go back and do the same thing again. Those are just some of the areas in demand reduction. In our cities, asking our newspapers, not to advertise for shady and borderline commercial sex ads. I was interviewed by the LA Times a few years ago and they actually in print said, when I told the teaspoon and faucet story, that ‘this lady thinks that she can actually end this.’ And yeah, I guess I am crazy enough because I think if there are enough people who argue with me that we’ve had enough that we don’t want it to be this way in our media, in our television, in our newspapers, in my community, that we can, by our demand in a different direction, we can change what is valuable in the marketplace because we all know, it’s driven by money, people want to make a profit, and if there’s no profit in something, they’re going to find a different way, so marketplace demand reduction is critical, that’s why we need business people involved.

Dave: So I think one of the things our audience may be thinking, and I know I’m thinking, even though I know a little bit more about this issue than maybe the average person does is, ok, so I’m listening to you talk about that and I’m thinking, what can I do? If I am just sitting listening to this episode in South Florida or Boston, Massachusetts, or Las Vegas, Nevada, what can I do today that’s not just serving victims, and again, it’s a very valuable thing to do, but what can I do on the front line? Are there things that you would advise us to go and look at?

Sandie: Well, I think that when we decide we’re going to join the battle, we join a troop. When you’re in the army you’re in a team of soldiers. You begin to develop a battle strategy, and you figure out who is in your troop, who is in your platoon, I’m not really great at army analogies, but I do know that you have to go through training, you practice, practice, practice, then you are deployed. There are specific roles, and everyone needs to play their role, and when I’m looking at and developing a battle strategy to fight human trafficking, I made a list of who I think I need in my army, and here’s just a few of them. I need businessmen and women who are creating and sustaining models for jobs to do prevention, our last podcast, we interviewed a young couple, Cindy and her husband Chris in Honduras building a factory, building a business selling Tegu toys.

Dave: Tegu is such a great example.

Sandie: Isn’t that? That’s businessmen and women on the front line. Educators, obviously we’ve talked about prevention and equipping new professionals, and I’m so proud of my Vanguard alum, Nicole, who is an ICE agent now. But, I was on the front line equipping her for that role. Health care professionals, these people identify victims that are walking into their clinics and are invisible cause we haven’t asked them the right questions. Spiritual leaders… Spiritual leaders really have their hand on the faucet. They drive the will of people to fight things like pornography, and the exploitation of our kids, political leaders, policy, legislation, law enforcement, it was an amazing thing for me to do a community service organization meeting last year, and here I am talking to women who are basically housewives, and I’m thinking, ‘oh I’m not really on the front line here,’ and then I started talking about law enforcement training that was going to be happening in the next month that I was going to be a part of. Afterward, 2 of the women came up and said, are there any of our police officers signed up to go to that meeting? And I said, ‘well, no’ and the next morning, I got a phone call, and there were two officers from that police department signing up to do the training. Cause our community services to respond to the residents in the community, and these women wanted it to be a high priority in their city, their law enforcement. So we use our influence in order to fight on the frontline as well.

Dave: So many different aspects of how we can be helpful, and depending on our background and our professional expertise, we can contribute in a lot of ways. Boy, you’ve mentioned seven or eight professions here, business-folk, educators, spiritual leaders, I know one of the things people can do is training yourself regarding these issues. So certainly listening to this podcast is one way to train yourself, and understand more about the challenges that are apart of this issue and understand some of the tools and resources, in addition to that, if I’m someone in the community who just found out about this issue, I want to do something, I want to train and educate myself, what can I do?

Sandie: Well one of the first things is to find out who is doing something in the community. Here in Orange County, we have the Human Trafficking Task Force, partnering with other people who have already required the skill, the training the background is a great way to be initiated in the battle. They train you, for instance, many organizations that have volunteer opportunities in this battle require training, there is always background checks and things like that, that are required. I think that we have this idea that we need to quit what we’re doing and go off to battle. But if we can do like you are and set aside a couple of hours a month to contribute to this, that is a great model for sustainability, and for effectiveness, because we continue to benefit because you continue to hone your skills, and every time we record, you’ve improved what were doing, and so here’s a couple of examples. Our Live2Free students at Vanguard, they have very little resources, they are university students and will probably leave university with some school debt. How are they going to go out and do a massive awareness campaign in our community? Well, they partner with Health and Human Services’ Look Beneath the Surface campaign based in Washington DC. They go online, they order the posters that have the (888) 3737-888 number, they order the materials that train frontline service providers, and then they become the distribution force. I worked for years in humanitarian relief, and I’ve learned that from the west we will send containers of resources to hard-hit disaster relief effort someplace in the world. But there are no troops on the ground to distribute the food, the clothing, it will sit in the containers and not reach the people who need it. So sometimes all we need are willing people who will give their hands, their feet and their time like the Live2Free students, to partner with those who do have the resources. And what I love about how the Live2Free students operate, they take the materials out and deliver them to programs like for instance, all of the librarians in OC received packets, and in each of those packets were instructions to order those posters and materials themselves, and now you can walk into a library and see rescue, restore, look beneath the surface material on the wall.

Dave: I really am struck by that example Sandie, cause I think that one of the challenges, and I know I’ve heard you speak about before that people do when they find out about an issue like this, like ending human trafficking, and this is an issue that pulls at everybody’s heartstrings, and so many people hear about it and they want to do something about it right away, and they make a very quick decision as to how they’re going to help, and they don’t necessarily build that network and connect with other organizations and educate themselves first, and they go out and end up doing something that either isn’t helpful or maybe even is harmful. So it sounds like some of the best practice really is, and we’ve talked about this on previous episodes, and it is to really go out and educate yourself first and partner with other organizations and find out what the needs are and support ongoing efforts as opposed to flying blind.

Sandie: Absolutely, and in fact, that National Hotline Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number, (888) 3737-888, the word ‘resource center’ phrase is very important, and you can call that, Dave, and ask them, is there anybody in my community I can partner with, where is my local task force, is there a coalition, is there someone that I can call who isn’t too far away who can come and do training with my organization. If you’re on the program committee for a community service organization, start by hosting a professional that’s working against human trafficking to come in and train your group on how they can partner. I was invited out to San Jacinto to do a training, and I really didn’t know too much about the community group, but the leader was a young man full of enthusiasm for justice and he said ‘make sure everybody has something in their hand to take home and do something about it.’ And I looked around my office and I’m thinking, I’ve got to take something for 1000 people? And I looked on my shelves and I have over 1000 posters from the national office rescue restore. So I packed up my car, took the poster, and as we were leaving, everyone took at least one. Some people came back and asked for more, I had to mail more out there. 2 weeks later I got a phone call, and it was a lady who had attended the meeting and she worked for Greyhound buses. She said ‘Okay we put it up in our greyhound bus station.’ Think about a greyhound bus station and the possibility of victims. Three of our victims that were brought to Orange County by a pimp who lured them online were sent bus tickets. What if they had seen that poster put up in that station? So as a result of that woman, putting the poster up in her bus station, the leaders of that group called and they wanted a package of posters for all of their bus stations. That’s because, when you equip people with resources and partner with people, and its really good business sense too, cause your tax dollars to pay for those posters, and your tax dollars pay for that (888) 3737-888 number functioning.

Dave: And I didn’t know, I thought that was just a crisis hotline number. You know, you see something, you call. But it sounds like it is really bigger than that. So you can call it and really educate yourself on what is in your community and what resources are already there, and particularly, if you’re in a part of the country and you may not know what your resources are, sounds like that’s a great place to start.

Sandie: Absolutely, absolutely.

Dave: Wow. That’s great. Very cool.

Sandie: So, I do want to also mention that as we proceed through these podcasts in the coming months, we’re going to address issues that are frontline strategies. Were going to talk about internet strategies, children and internet use were going to talk about single moms, teen moms were going to look at some of the places that we haven’t traditionally looked at as frontline strategies against human trafficking.

Dave: And so we’re going to tackle those here in the coming months and the coming podcasts. And so, before we end our episode today Sandie, we should tell our audience something exciting that’s coming up in just a few episodes, this is episode number 11. In episode number 13 we’re going to be doing something different than what we’ve been doing. So, lucky number 13.

Sandie: Right, that’s right.

Dave: So, Sandie and I believe that number 13 doesn’t have any sinister qualities to it, still not quite sure, here in the united states people don’t have floor 13 in buildings. Lucky number 13 will also ironically be airing on the 13th and were going to be doing something different. Rather than having a topic to bring to that episode, were going to do an all question and answer show, so what that means is we’re going to be asking our audience to be calling in or emailing as many questions in advance and Sandie is going to answer as many questions to know what’s important to you, what do you want to know about human trafficking. What do you want to know about the resources that are out there? What questions are burning n your mind if you’ve already listened to a few of these episodes already, and what do you want to know? And so there are a couple of ways to reach out to us, you’ve got some time before we air that episode in October, but don’t hesitate to get your question in early cause we want to get your question in on the show, so you can email us at Gcwj@vanguard.edu, or you can call us, right, Sandie?

Sandie: Right, the number is (714) 556- 3610 ext. 2242. And when you call, if there is no one there, please leave a message because we can use your voicemail to ask the question.

Dave: And we will respond to as many questions as you have, so please take a moment after you finish this episode, send us an email let us know what you’re thinking. By the way, you are certainly welcome to send us an email on future topics, and suggestions and comments as well. But for sure we do want to get your questions in so we can get to them in episode number 13.

Sandie: And I want to thank those of you who have sent encouraging emails and told us what you’re doing with the knowledge and education that your gaining from the podcasts. I had an encouraging email from a young woman who told us that she was able to use this podcast in preparing for her testimony to go before Congress on behalf of commercially sexually exploited children.

Dave: Such an incredible story.

Sandie: Yeah, makes me glad I’m doing this. And I want to thank you, Dave.

Dave: Well, we’re out of time here. I actually hit to the wrong band here, Sandie so we’re going to try this again. Thanks, everyone, and if you have any questions or comments for us please send us an email at gcwj@vanguard.edu and we will see you in a few weeks for our episode number 12, thanks, Sandie.
Sandie: Bye.

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