Appreciation of the lessons from past public health campaigns can help us learn how to end human trafficking. Sandra Morgan, the Director of the Global Center for Women & Justice and Dave Stachowiak, one of the Center’s board members, discuss what we can learn and use from successful public health campaigns, such as the campaign against smoking.
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Dave: Sandie did that all sound coherent what I just said?
Sandie: Oh yeah, that was great!
Dave: Okay good. Because we have a newborn at our house who’s 2 weeks old so I’m only going on a limited amount of sleep before this episode today. So for you and the audience if there’s anything I say that does not sound coherent, that’s because I became a parent.
Sandie: He’s a new daddy! And I have already got to hold Luke Stachowiak.
Dave: You have.
Sandie: And that really makes me even more motivated to address the subject that were going to talk about today.
Dave: Which is why I was thinking about it today as we were talking before the show here and prepping our notes, you do look at these things differently as a parent and through the eyes, or the lens of a parent than I think we do when we’re not parents. Thinking about the messages 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.
Sandie: And the whole idea of development strategies for raising kids because their brains and all these things we feed into them because it really is what you put in is when you get out.
Dave: So, what are we going to discuss today? I know you have a whole bunch of things prepared here.
Sandie: 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 email@example.com or call us at 714.
Dave: 966.6361. We just changed the number.
Sandie: I know we just changed the number. I was like, I never call myself.
Dave: Exactly. So again that number is 714.966.6361 and by the way we’ll have links to this on the show notes so if you are on the road and listening to this you can always just hop onto the website later and check us out there as well.
Sandie: So, when we look at prevention, I want us to start back at with our basic understanding, early on we talked about the law of supply and demand. Look at the things we know that are part of driving supply and driving demand with regard to sex trafficking in specific. So a couple of those things that drive demand Dave?
Dave: A couple of them that we have talked about this morning, Sandie, is certainly pornography and how that drives demand for trafficking. I know some people would say, “Wow that’s not necessarily connected. People who are involved in pornography workers are there by choice.” You and I both know in many cases they’re not there by choice and even if they are ‘there by choice’ they aren’t really in many situations, so that certainly drives demand for HT and we have tons of evidence we could point to around that. We should do an episode on that, Sandie. If you’re looking for resources on those, send us an email and Sandie can put you in touch with those. Part of it too is also this what we’ve termed pimp culture and especially some of the language and just some of the things that are happening in popular culture that do contribute to this, I don’t want to say supported, but tolerated in our culture.
Sandie: It normalizes.
Dave: That’s a better word. It normalizes what we expect in the culture. It is interesting when you think about just how much the word pimp has become, which is not a good word.
Sandie: It’s not. You can go to prison for pimping.
Dave: And you should.
Sandie: It’s against the law.
Dave: Pimping means, and we should have 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 about it.
Sandie: Let me go onto 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 difficult situations, placing them, child welfare and then they get picked up for juvenile prostitution. 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: The Miriam Webster’s definition of a pimp is a man who solicits clients for prostitute. So this is not a good thing. This is not a good word. This is an illegal activity we’re working against here to end this in the world. Yet we have things that we hear about in the world, like terms like pimp my ride and how often we see adults and children using this term pimp and somehow that’s become okay in culture to use this world.
Sandie: We associate it with innocuous things like a young mother 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 can put the word pimp with popcorn. What is that? But for her that sounds normal. But I don’t want it to be normal when she’s a teenager.
Dave: Well I won’t mention what I was going to mention Sandie, but some of the language its interesting how our culture does grab onto language in ways and through normalization it just becomes accepted.
Sandie: Language becomes the structure on which we engage our community.
Dave: You were telling me even before the show today that there is apparently pimp and ho Halloween costumes for toddlers.
Sandie: Yeah that’s pretty disturbing.
Dave: That’s horribly disturbing.
Sandie: And that’s kind of where we’re going to go with this. We’re going to look at prevention. The LA times interviewed me in January of 2008. They really questioned if we can actually do anything in the area of prevention and I talked about the story of teaspoons and faucet strategies and how do we turn off the faucet. 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 runaway, that they’re never exploited. I know that sounds pie in the sky, but in 2007, Dr. Laura Lederer was at our GCWJ 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, there are a few things that they identified in there, Dave do you want to read that section in there?
Dave: 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 the invest the greater the savings in smoking related health care costs. Such strategies include higher tobacco prices, hard hitting media campaigns, 100% smoke free policies, and easily accessible quitting treatment and services for those who want to quit.
Sandie: When you see a model that is effective, I did a survey in my class the other day and asked 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. Only 2 students had parents that smoke. That’s all. So this anti-smoking campaign was very effective. It didn’t end it but it was very effective.
Dave: It’s an inspiring story when you think about it. When I was a kid in school there was huge efforts around convincing children that smoking is bad and nowadays that’s just common knowledge. everyone knows that smoking is bad. But 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 smoking is bad for you and no one would smoke 50 years from then, no one would have believed you.
Sandie: I’m from CA where you can’t smoke in a restaurant. It’s just against the law. I’ve done some traveling around to states where that isn’t a law and when they ask me “Smoking or non-smoking?” I’m like “What?” It was really interesting in the CDC report to read this little tidbit. “On the west, where smoking prevalence is lower among men and women than in other regions, lung cancer incidence is decreasing faster. Studies show declines in lung cancer rates can be seen as soon as 5 years after smoking rates decline. So why are we talking about smoking on ending HT? Well because I want us to think about parallel ways to look at this. So we campaign right now directly against sex trafficking. There were posters to stop smoking and there 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 work is when we started second hand smoke campaigns because all of a sudden parents realized smoking impacted their children. I remember when my daughter was having some issue with asthma and my father in law was smoking at the time. He voluntarily agreed that he would never smoke in our house. And when the kids were at their house, he didn’t smoke. 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 secondhand use of pornography, and the pimp culture, and sex trafficking. The secondhand implications on our daughters and our sons are motivation enough to do something.
Dave: What you said a moment ago about just the differences in parts of the country and culture really does impact how people think. I moved to CA back in 1999 and I came from Illinois which was much heavier smoking population. When I moved out here it was just after CA passed one of the first laws in the country banning smoking in all public, indoor restaurants. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is great! Clean air when you go to a restaurant.” How that seemed like such a luxury and within a year or 2 of living here and then travelling back home to visit family. All of a sudden, I’d go to a restaurant and they’d ask “Smoking or non-smoking?” And I’d be like “Oh, awful!” It just took that time, just that year or 2 of being in a new environment where people thought differently about something to change my perspective on how I approach that. I think that there are a lot of parallels to that with HT if we change some of the language we’re using around 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 these things.
Sandie: And I’m thinking about 100% pornography free environment, related to this smoke free zone. That would be amazing! However, I don’t think the west is going to be the leader on that because SC is the capitol of pornography production so we’ve got our work cut out for us. Another area that is parallel when we are 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. If it means a reduction in public health care costs, that’s a benefit and we need to promote that.
Dave: Money talks. Especially when we’re talking to state legislatures and federal legislatures about how we can advance the cause of ending HT. That is something that really affects the bottom line and that’s important to everybody, especially these days.
Sandie: It took a long time for the cigarette industry to begin to respond to the evidence hast cigarettes did cause cancer. How they responded to that began to, they were forced to take some responsibility. Hard hitting media campaigns are probably what drove that. How are we going to do the same thing with 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 figure out. There are little things that we can do when we go up the stream, that we can look at. I was over in Eastern Europe when they were not able to advertise in magazines or on TV where children would be around with cigarettes here in the US. So those advertisement dollars went to countries where they didn’t have any regulation like that. 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 it reminded me of some of the stuff that’s out there and available to our kids that just is on the borderline of pornography. It is samples. It is sweet, chocolate covered, sugar coated candy that is normalizing the idea that this is an okay habit. 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. She played some music that our 12-13 years olds are listening to and it shocked me. I didn’t even realize it. It was nice music. The video was colorful. There was nothing ugly in it. It was very attractive to children. 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 cigarettes in CA.
Dave: But we let our kids use words like pimp and wear costumes like pimp and ho toddler outfits. Crazy, isn’t it?
Sandie: So, these are prevention strategies that people in our community, you may not be able to, last episode we interviewed Sherri Harris from the Salvation Army and a lot of people want to fight HT by talking care of victims.
Dave: Which is a great thing to do. It needs to be done.
Sandie: It is! You can go on our website and find out how to help with resources for that.
Dave: And if you are interested in doing that, go back and listen to episode 23 if you haven’t because that’s an episode you should listen to if you’re interested in that. But the larger point, Sandie is…
Sandie: 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 we can do in our community from a policy, legislative, from media outreach, getting parents together to stand together against the exploitation of kids. There are things that we can do that our just like what they did to fight cigarette smoking in this country. And in teaching at Vanguard, I ask, just for fun, 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. The same thing is happening with our pimp culture. That’s what our kids are being sold the bill of goods on today.
Dave: So I think one of things that I’m hearing you say is that we can, there’s a lot of ways for us to end HT. 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 were using ,the exposure we give to kids, the types of conversations people have around children, the things we let our kids buy and purchase, the types of things 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.
Sandie: One of the areas I’ve had a lot of discussion with people about is pornography. And pornography is legal. It’s a huge industry. Billions and billions. Every year it goes up. A couple years ago it was a 97 billion dollar industry. The link between child pornography, which is not legal and which is punishable on a federal level, like 25 years, then there’s this breakdown and they say, “Oh no, no! That’s different.” Well somehow, there is a connection between adult pornography and child pornography. And where does that connection happen? And where can we draw that line and begin to 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? 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: You don’t have to anymore.
Sandie: No, I don’t! Because of our, I think one of the things that we talk about here in the GCWJ is research and studying the issues. I’m looking for a solid research report that will link adult pornography to child pornography. I’ve seen some of that research. 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 made 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 exploitation of minors, the cost to our society is huge. Has anybody been able to quantify what that cost is? We need to start looking a 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, our city hall, to our state senate, and to our congress and say, “This is what it’s costing us.” So we do need to have strategies to fix this and reduce this and they have to be long term strategies. It can’t be something that’s funded for 3 years and then it goes away.
Dave: And certainly the traffickers look at this from an economic lens because they’re in it for the money and the profit so it’s important that on the side of prevention we also look at it from an economic standpoint too and in an era where government has very limited resources and non-profits have very limited resources, we have to make the case for how by ending HT that does benefit all of us and reduces costs. And if you don’t believe there are costs, go back and listen to episode 23 and listen to all the costs and things that go into serving victims. Sherri was telling us from the Salvation Army, just serving one victim how much goes into that as far as time, resources, materials, supplies.
Sandie: And the community health care costs for STDs, 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 in the US is among 12-17-year olds.
Sandie: 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: So, what the step forward for us and for listeners of this episode to think about and/or take action on in regard to some of the brainstorming we talked about up front?
Sandie: I think we need to hear from our community of listeners for what your ideas are for how we can step up our campaigns and using these kinds of campaigns against things that drive sex trafficking and using the same model do that. We begin to move away from direct “warning on the label” kinds of campaigns, instead of all of our websites having girls in 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 ideas that I can’t even imagine. Something that has the same principle as secondhand smoke. One of the thoughts that I think of immediately was a music video that came out a few years ago by Steve Siler. He did a music video with a song called “Somebody’s Daughter.” And that’s a secondhand smoke anti-trafficking campaign song. A song about the fact that the pornography, and in the video 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 the computer because that’s somebody’s daughter. That’s a secondhand smoke campaign. Are there other ideas for that? Do you have ideas?
Dave: One of the things that I’ve thought of, Sandie, and I have been in situations where I have heard pastors preaching to congregations using the term pimp and the language they used from the pulpit.
Sandie: Did that make you feel uncomfortable?
Dave: You know what, yes. Once I got to know you and have been on the board of the center and have become aware of language around that. But I would be ashamed to say prior to that, no it wouldn’t have, because of the language in our culture. So one of things that I’ve already made a commitment to do and will continue to do is when I hear people who should know better, particularly people who are in places of influence, speaking to groups, who use language like that, to bring that to their attention, that it’s not appropriate language and to give them feedback on that. I think that people when they hear something like that, when really they stop to think about the language that they’re using, will make a change. So that’s something I plan to continue to do.
Sandie: I want to see how we do prevention with kids before they are victimized as well. I think some of that address 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 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 going to take the candy cigarettes off the shelf. Because if it’s ok to practice with a candy cigarette, well then it’s a pretty easy step to go to the next. We have the historical evidence that that’s the case. And that’s why candy cigarettes are no longer on the shelf. 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. This is going to take a concerted community effort. It’s going to take what the CDC identified as a hard hitting media campaign. 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 HT, you’re one of the good guys in my book.
Dave: Nothing like this is too little. They may seem small, like bringing to someone’s attention that the word pimp isn’t appropriate, but the little things do make a big difference. 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 pharmacy, you pay $20, and you get the shot. It’s simple. But if you don’t do it, what it can lead to, a child getting pertussis, is 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.
Sandie: And we can do that. If you have an idea please send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Dave: Did I sound coherent?
Sandie: Yes, you did! Luke’s in good shape today.
Dave: You can also reach out to us by phone. If you’ve made a commitment to do something different based on 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 email@example.com is our website. And just a reminder, we do have a Facebook fan page so just search for the GCWJ on Facebook and join the conversation there too. Sandie, thanks for your time today.
Sandie: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Dave: Take care everyone.