24 – Prevention Lessons from Public Health Campaigns

Ending Human Trafficking Podcast Logo

Sandra Morgan and Dave Stachowiak reflect on the anti-smoking campaign in the U.S. and how we can learn and use from successful public health campaigns to end human trafficking.

Key Points

  • Normalization of language and behavior shape’s society’s perception of what is accepted.
  • More research on the links between pornography and child sexual abuse and the economic cost of child sexual abuse and sex trafficking is needed to understand the long-term harms of sexual exploitation.
  • Appreciation of the lessons from past public health campaigns can help us learn how to end human trafficking.

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Dave  00:00

You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 24, airing in March 2012.

Dave  00:07

Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandra Morgan  00:28

And I’m Sandie Morgan.

Dave  00:29

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, did that all sound coherent? That what I just said.

Sandra Morgan  00:41

Oh, yeah, that was great.

Dave  00:42

Okay, good. Because we have a newborn here at our house who’s two weeks old, and so I’m only going on a limited amount of sleep before this episode here today. So for you and the audience, if there’s anything that I say that does not sound coherent, that’s because I became a parent.

Sandra Morgan  01:00

He’s a new daddy, and I already got hold Luke Stachowiak. And, you know, that really makes me even more motivated to address the subject that we’re going to talk about today.

Dave  01:13

Which is why I was thinking about it, Sandie. As we were just talking before the show here and prepping our notes, you do look at these things differently as a parent and through the eyes and the lens of a parent than I think that we do when we’re not parents. And thinking about the messages that we send to kids and the importance of learning early, both on a positive and a negative side. And we’re going to talk about that a bunch today.

Sandra Morgan  01:42

Well, and the whole idea of development strategies for raising kids because their brains and all these things that we feed into them, because it really is what you put in is what you get out.

Dave  01:53

Yeah. So what are we going to discuss today, because I knew you have a whole bunch of things here?

Sandra Morgan  01:59

I really want listeners today– I know you listen sometimes when you’re driving, so if you’re driving, don’t pay attention right now. But if you’re not, please get a pen and paper out. Because I’d like you to brainstorm with us as we go through this podcast today. We’re going to revisit prevention and community engagement. And at the end of this, I would love to get emails at gcwj@vanguard.edu or call us at

Dave  02:32

714-966-6361. We just changed the number recently.

Sandra Morgan  02:35

I know, we just changed the number. I never call myself.

Dave  02:39

Yeah, right, exactly. And so again, that number is 714-966-6361. And by the way, we’ll have links to this in the show notes. So if you’re on the road and listening to this, you can always hop on to the website later and check us out there.

Sandra Morgan  02:53

So when we look at prevention, I want us to start with our basic understanding. Early on, we talked about the law of supply and demand, and look at the things we know that are part of driving supply and driving demand with regard to sex trafficking in specific. And so a couple of those things that drive demand, Dave.

Dave  03:18

Yeah, a couple of them that we have talked about here this morning, Sandie, is certainly pornography and how that drives demand for trafficking. And I know some people would say, wow, that’s not necessarily connected. People who are involved in pornography workers are there by choice. And as you know, you and I both know, in many situations, they’re not there by choice. And even if they are, quote, unquote, there by choice, you know, they aren’t really in many situations. And so, that certainly drives demand for human trafficking. And we have tons of evidence we could point to around that. We should do an episode on that Sandie, but if you’re looking for resources around that, of course, send us an email and Sandie can put you in touch with those. And then part of it too is also this what we’ve termed pimp culture, and especially some of the language and some of the things that are happening in popular culture that do contribute to this. I don’t want to say being, you know, supported but tolerated in our culture.

Sandra Morgan  04:25

It normalizes.

Dave  04:26

Exactly. That’s a better word, Sandie, it normalizes what we expect in the culture. And it is interesting when you think about just how much the word pimp has become, which is not a good word.

Sandra Morgan  04:40

No. You can go to prison for pimping.

Dave  04:44

And you should.

Sandra Morgan  04:44

It’s against the law.

Dave  04:45

Yeah. And pimping means, we should have actually looked it up in the dictionary before we hopped on the air here, Sandie. So I’m going to do that if you want to just mention a little bit about–

Sandra Morgan  04:54

Okay. Let me go on to some things that drive supply. We know particularly with regard to the commercial sexual exploitation of youth and juveniles, that the whole breakdown in taking care of kids who are running away from really difficult situations, placing them, child welfare, and then they get picked up for juvenile prostitution. And they’re really victims, but they’ve been arrested as an offender. They’re out there for some reason. And we need to understand why because they are the supply that is very available in our communities. And go ahead and read that for us.

Dave  05:02

The Merriam Webster’s definition of a pimp is ‘a man who solicits clients for a prostitute.’ So this is not a good thing. This is not a good word. And this is an illegal activity. And it’s part of what we’re working against here, Sandie, is to end this in the world. And yet we have things that we hear about in the world, terms like Pimp My Ride, and you know, how often we see adults and children using this term pimp. And somehow that’s become okay in culture to use this word.

Sandra Morgan  06:16

Well we associate it with really innocuous things like a young mother and her and her little girl in primary grade school talking about popcorn pimp, I don’t even know what that is or who that is. But the whole idea that we associate, we can put the word pimp with popcorn. What is that? But for her, it sounds normal. But I don’t want it to be normal when she’s a teenager.

Dave  06:41

Right. Exactly. You know, I– Well, I won’t mention what I was gonna mention, Sandie, was, you know, just some of the language it’s just interesting how our culture does grab onto language and in ways and then through normalization, it just becomes something.

Sandra Morgan  06:59

And language becomes the structure on which we engage our community.

Dave  07:05

You were telling me even before the show today that there is apparently Pimp n Ho halloween costumes for toddlers.

Sandra Morgan  07:14

Yeah, that’s pretty disturbing. And that’s kind of where we’re gonna go with this. We’re gonna look at prevention. The LA Times interviewed me back in January of 2008 and they really questioned if we could actually do anything in the area of prevention. And I talked about the story of teaspoons and faucet strategies and and how do we turn off the faucet. And that requires engaging in an exercise to determine where the points of opportunity to do prevention actually exist. We are at this point, looking more at how do we find homes for runaways, but maybe we need to go back further so that they don’t ever run away, that they’re never exploited. And I know that sounds pie in the sky. But in 2007, Dr. Laura Lederer was at our Global Center for Women and Justice conference called ‘Strategies Against Sex Trafficking’ and she introduced the idea that we need anti trafficking campaigns, just like the anti smoking campaigns that have reduced lung cancer significantly. And in fact, there’s a report that came out this fall from the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, and there are a few things that they identified in there, Dave. You want to read that one section in there?

Dave  08:37

Sure. So the report also noted that states that make greater investments in effective tobacco control strategies see larger reductions in smoking, and the longer they invest, the greater the savings and smoking related health care costs. Such strategies include higher tobacco prices, hard hitting media campaigns, 100% smoke free policies, and easily accessible quitting treatments and services for those who want to quit.

Sandra Morgan  09:06

Now, when you see a model that is effective– I did a survey in my class the other day and asked how many of my students how many of you smoke? Nobody raised their hand. I asked, how many of your parents smoke and it was a pretty large group. Two students had parents who smoked, that’s all. That’s all. So this anti smoking campaign was very, very effective. It didn’t end it, but it is very effective.

Dave  09:32

Yeah. And it’s really an inspiring story when you think about it, Sandie. I mean, we were talking that, you know, when I was a kid in school there was huge, huge efforts around convincing children that smoking was bad. And nowadays that’s just common knowledge. Everyone knows that smoking is bad and what a success story that’s been. I mean, if we looked back 50 years ago back in the 60s, everybody smoked. If you had told someone back then that smoking was bad for you and no one would smoke 50 years from then, no one would have believed you.

Sandra Morgan  10:08

Well, and I’m here in California where you can’t smoke in a restaurant. It’s just against the law. And every once in a while I’m traveling in a state where that isn’t a law. And when they asked me smoking or no smoking, I’m like, what?

Dave  10:20

Yeah, yeah.

Sandra Morgan  10:21

So it was really interesting in the CDC report to read this little tidbit. In the west where smoking prevalence is lower among men and women than in other regions, lung cancer incidence is decreasing faster. Studies showed declines in lung cancer rates can be seen as soon as five years after smoking rates decline. So, why are we talking about smoking on ending human trafficking? Well, because I want us to think about parallel ways to look at this. So we’d campaign right now directly against sex trafficking. And there were posters to stop smoking, and they were ugly posters of the inside of somebody’s lungs from the black tar. A lot of that didn’t work very well. What did begin to work when we started secondhand smoke campaigns, because all of a sudden, parents realized that smoking impacted their children. And I remember when my daughter was having some issues with asthma, and my father in law was smoking at the time. And so he voluntarily agreed that he would never smoke in our house. And when the kids were at their house, he didn’t smoke, because everybody was aware that secondhand smoke would hurt some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Well, we can take that same parallel, and begin to apply that. The second hand use of pornography and the pimp culture and sex trafficking, the second hand implications on our daughters and our sons, are motivation enough to do something.

Dave  12:01

And what you said a moment ago, Sandie, about just the differences and parts of the country and culture, it really does impact how people think. I remember I moved to California back in 1999. And I came from Illinois, which you know, was much heavier smoking population. And when I moved out here was just after California passed one of the first, I think was the first law in the country banning smoking in all public indoor restaurants. And I remember when I moved out here, thinking like, Wow, great, you know. Clean air when you go to a restaurant, and how that seemed like such a luxury. And within a year or two of living here and then traveling back home to visit family, all of a sudden, I go to a restaurant back home, and they’d ask smoking or non smoking. And I’d be like, Oh, awful. And it just took that time, just that year or two of being in a new environment where people thought differently about something to change my perspective on how I approached that. And I think that there’s a lot of parallels to that with human trafficking. If we change some of the language we use around, you know, this pimp culture and how we look at language and prevention and all those things we’ve been talking about, Sandie. We really can shift our thinking and society’s thinking on this.

Sandra Morgan  13:22

And I’m thinking about 100% pornography free environment, as you know, related to this 100% smoke free zone, that would be amazing. However, I don’t think the West is going to be the leader on that, because Southern California is the capital of pornography production. So we’ve got our work cut out for us. Another area that is parallel when we’re looking at this with the related health care costs, if we reduce sex trafficking, we would impact health care costs in our communities. And I think those are some of the benefits that we need to promote in this anti trafficking campaign as it grows, because people want to know what’s in it for me, and if it means a reduction in public health care costs, that’s a benefit. And we need to promote that.

Dave  14:17

Yeah. And money talks, especially when we’re talking to state legislatures and federal legislatures about how we can advance the cause of ending human trafficking. That is something that really affects the bottom line. And that’s important to everybody, especially these days.

Sandra Morgan  14:33

It took a long time for the cigarette industry to begin to respond to the evidence that cigarettes did cause cancer, and how they responded to that began to, they were forced to take some responsibility and hard hitting media campaigns is probably what drove that. And how are we going to do the same thing with regard to sex trafficking? The taxes on cigarettes went up in order to fund those campaigns. Well, how do we tax the sexual exploitation of men, women and children? How do we do that? So it’s a little more complicated. But it certainly is something we have to be figuring out. And there are little things that when we go back upstream we can look at. I was actually over in Eastern Europe when they were not able to advertise in magazines and on TV, where children would be around with cigarettes here in the States. And so those advertisement dollars went to countries where they didn’t have any regulation like that. And I was approached by, I was part of a humanitarian Nursing Association, and I was approached by a nurse who said, ‘Do you realize that your cigarette manufacturers are now promoting cigarettes with our kids?’ And they were actually giving out free samples of cigarettes that were laced with sugar and flavors. And that reminded me of some of the stuff that’s out there and available to our kids that just is on the border line of pornography, is it samples, it’s sweet chocolate covered sugar coated candy that is normalizing the idea of this as an okay habit. And when I listened, we have a DVD from a couple years ago at our conference from Dr. Sharon Cooper, about normalizing the hyper sexualization of kids. And she played some music that our 12 and 13 year olds are listening to that shocked me. I didn’t even realize it. And it was nice music and the video was colorful, there was nothing ugly in it. Very, very attractive to children. And so I remember when I was a kid, you could walk into a dime store and buy a package of candy cigarettes. But they outlawed that, because it introduced the idea of normalizing the habit of smoking. So you can’t buy candy cigarettes in California.

Dave  17:26

But we let our kids use words like pimp and wear costumes Pimp n Ho toddler outfits. Crazy isn’t it?

Sandra Morgan  17:35

Yeah. So these are prevention strategies that people in our community, you may not be able to like last podcast, we interviewed Sherry Harris from the Salvation Army. And a lot of people want to fight human trafficking by helping take care of victims–

Dave  17:50

Which is a great thing to do.

Sandra Morgan  17:51

It is, it is.

Dave  17:51

Yeah, it needs to be done.

Sandra Morgan  17:53

And you can go on our website and find out how to help with resources for that.

Dave  17:58

And if you are interested in doing that, go back and listen to episode number 23, if you haven’t, because that’s an episode you should listen to if you’re interested in doing that. But the larger point, Sandie is?

Sandra Morgan  18:08

Well, we are in a community where this is in our face every single day. If you’re standing in line at the grocery store, if you’re listening to a radio show, if you’re watching television, and we have to begin to identify the things that we can do in our own community from a policy, legislative, from media outreach, getting parents together to stand together against the exploitation of our kids, there are things that we can do that are just like what they did to fight cigarette smoking in this country. And I’ll tell you, I’m teaching there at Vanguard and I just for fun, I ask if anybody knew who the Marlboro Man was. Nobody knew. But I grew up on those TV commercials. I can hear the music in my head and see the guy riding on the horse and it made cigarette smoking look really glamorous. And the same thing is happening with our pimp culture. That’s what our kids are being sold a bill of goods on today.

Dave  19:11

So I think one of the things that I’m hearing you say, Sandie, here is that there’s a lot of ways for us to end human trafficking. Certainly serving survivors is a wonderful way to do it if it’s done in the right way. But we can all do something to change the language that we’re using. The exposure we give to kids around things, the types of conversations people have around our children, the things we let our kids buy and purchase and the types of things that we invest in are all part of this. It’s not just we find a victim and offer them victim services. That is one piece of a very large puzzle around us ending this horrible thing that happens in the world.

Sandra Morgan  20:00

One of the areas I’ve had a lot of discussion with people about is the area of pornography. And pornography is legal. And it’s a huge industry, billions and billions. Every year it goes up. Couple years ago, it was a $97 billion industry. And the link, though, between child pornography, which is not legal, and which is punishable on a federal level of like, 25 years. Then there’s this breakdown and they’re Oh, no, no, you know, that’s different. Well, somehow, there is a connection between adult pornography and child pornography, and where does that connection happen? And how can we begin to draw and connect those dots? And if pornography leads to child pornography, leads to the victimization of the most vulnerable in our communities, is that not like the secondhand smoke principle?

Dave  20:05

Oh, absolutely.

Sandra Morgan  20:14

So then, do we need to do something about secondhand smoke? I don’t want to sit in a restaurant where I have to breathe somebody else’s smoke.

Dave  21:18

Yeah, and you don’t have to anymore.

Sandra Morgan  21:20

No, I don’t. And so because of our, I think one of the things that we talk about here at the Global Center for Women and Justice is we talk about research and studying the issues. I’m looking for a solid research report that will link adult pornography to child pornography. And I’ve seen some of that research. But it’s just like when we were dealing with the big industry of tobacco, we had to prove beyond, beyond, beyond normal levels of proof to gain the kind of clout that we needed to regulate tobacco. And when you read that CDC report, I want to reiterate, the report also noted that states that make greater investments in effective tobacco control strategies see larger reductions in smoking, and the longer they invest, the greater the savings in smoking related health care costs. So the costs to our society of sex trafficking, as it relates to these things that we’ve identified as part of the demand, like pornography and pimp culture, and prostitution, and exploited minors, the cost to our society is huge. Has anybody been able to quantify what that cost is? We need to start looking at research reports that can do that. Because those are the things that we need to have in hand when we go to our city council, to our city hall, to our state senate, and to our Congress, and say, ‘This is what it’s costing us.’ And so we do need to have strategies to reduce this. And they have to be long term strategies. They can’t be something that’s funded for three years, and then it goes away.

Dave  23:23

And certainly the traffickers look at this from an economic lens, because they’re in it for the money and the profit. And so it’s important that on the side of prevention, we also look at it from an economic standpoint, too, Sandie. And in an era where government has very, very limited resources and nonprofits have very limited resources, we have to make the case for how by ending human trafficking that does benefit all of us and reduces costs. And if you don’t believe there’s costs, go back and listen to episode 23 and listen to the all the costs and things that go into serving victims that Sherry was telling us from the Salvation Army. I mean, just serving one victim how much goes into that as far as time, resources, material, supplies. It’s incredible.

Sandra Morgan  24:08

And the community health care costs for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, which I don’t know if you’re aware of this, Dave, but last year a report came out and the highest increase in HIV/AIDS diagnosis in the United States is among 12 to 17 year olds. So that makes you begin to understand that the repercussions for this are a lot more than people are complaining about obscenity and disagreements about what constitutes pornography and what doesn’t constitute pornography. This is impacting our kids. So the whole secondhand smoke principle, we can apply that to this and we can gain community engagement and that’s what we need.

Dave  24:59

So, what’s the step forward for us and for the listeners of this episode, Sandie, to think about and/or take action on in regards to some of the brainstorming you talked about here upfront?

Sandra Morgan  25:14

Well, I think we need to hear from our community of listeners on what your ideas are for how we can step up our campaigns against sex trafficking against the things that drive sex trafficking, and using the same model, so that we begin to move away from just direct, basically warning on the label kinds of campaigns. And instead of all of our websites and media having pictures of girls and chains, that we begin to look at the demand aspect of this, we begin to develop promotional campaigns. And I know there are some amazingly creative young people out there that will have great ideas that I cannot even imagine. But something that has the same principle as secondhand smoke. One of the thoughts that I think of immediately is a music video that came out a few years ago by Steve Siler, and he did a music video with a song called somebody’s daughter. And that’s a secondhand smoke anti trafficking campaign song. As a song about the fact that the pornography, and in the video you you see a dad aged guy about to click on a website, and he has the words to the song in his head, and he closes his computer, because that’s somebody’s daughter. That’s a secondhand smoke kind of campaign. Are there other ideas for that? Do you have ideas?

Dave  26:49

Well one of the things that I thought of Sandie, and I have been in situations where I have heard pastors preaching to congregations using the term pimp in the language they used from the pulpit. And–

Sandra Morgan  27:05

Did that make you feel uncomfortable?

Dave  27:07

You know what? Yes, once I got to know you, and have been on the board of the center, and have been really aware of language that people use around that. But I would be ashamed to say prior to that, no, it wouldn’t have because it’s such a part of the language in our culture. So one of the things that I’ve already made a commitment to do and will continue to do is when I hear people who should know better, and particularly for people who are in places of influence and speaking to groups use language like that, to bring it to their attention that that’s not appropriate language, and to give them feedback on that. And I think that people, when really, they stop to think about the language they’re using, will make a change. And so that’s something that I plan to continue to do.

Sandra Morgan  27:55

Well, I want to see how we begin to do prevention with kids before they are victimized, as well. And I think some of that addresses the development of kids understanding of what pimping is, and the idea that we don’t want that to be normalized for them. So I appreciate your commitment to just holding a higher bar for those who are influencers, people who are in leadership roles in our spiritual community, in our churches, in our schools, in our education, and after school programs, to set some standards for this. It’s kind of like we’re gonna take the candy cigarettes off the shelf. Because if it’s okay to hold and practice, practice with a candy cigarette, well, then it’s a pretty easy step to go to the next one. And we have the historical evidence that that’s the case. And that’s why candy cigarettes are no longer on the shelf. So, go back and listen to the lecture from Dr. Sharon Cooper in 2009. We are not going to allow the normalization of hyper sexualizing our kids, and this is going to take a concerted community effort, and it’s going to take what the CDC identified as a hard hitting media campaign. And I want to challenge our listeners to help us begin to do that. It can go viral. The Internet creates all kinds of opportunities for the bad guys, but it creates opportunities for the good guys, too. And if you’re listening to this podcast and you want to end human trafficking, you’re one of the good guys in my book.

Dave  29:43

Yeah. And, you know, no thing like this is too little, Sandie. And they may seem like small things like bringing to someone’s attention that using the word pimp isn’t appropriate. But the little things do make a big difference and to continue our analogy with health care, we have this newborn at home and we’ve had to get vaccinated for whooping cough. That’s a really easy thing to do. You go down to the doctor, you go over to CVS pharmacy, you pay 20 bucks, you get the shot. It’s simple. But if you don’t do it, what it can lead to? The child can, you know, pertussis is really, really complicated. So sometimes the simple things can really make a big impact if we do them at the right time and take action to make effective change.

Sandra Morgan  30:29

And we can do that.

Dave  30:31

We can do that.

Sandra Morgan  30:32

If you have an idea, please send us an email GCWJ@vanguard.edu. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Dave  30:42

Did I sound coherent, Sandie?

Sandra Morgan  30:43

Yes, you did. Luke’s in good shape today.

Dave  30:47

Alright. You could also reach out to us by phone. If you’ve made a commitment to do something different based upon what you heard in our show today, we’d really like to hear about it. So give us a call at 714-966-6361. And of course gcwj@vanguard.edu is our website. And hey, just a reminder, we do have a Facebook fan page. So just search for the Global Center for Women and Justice on Facebook and join the conversation there, too. Sandie, thanks for your time again today.

Dave  31:21

Thank you.

Dave  31:22

Take care everyone.

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