314 – A Prevention Framework, with Kimberly Casey

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Dr. Sandra Morgan is joined by her friend and colleague, Kimberly Casey. The two discuss the National Human Trafficking Prevention Framework and the ways in which human trafficking is not simply a crime, but a human rights and public health issue.

Kimberly Casey

Kimberly is Communications and Prevention Specialist at the Office on Trafficking in Persons, Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. Kimberly is a graduate of George Mason University with a Master of Public Policy, culture, society and development. She is a self proclaimed learner and a strong proponent of connecting proven public health strategies with the vision of what we believe is possible to advance efforts to prevent human trafficking and other forms of violence.

Key Points

  • Human trafficking is not just a crime, but a human rights and public health issue, meaning it is also preventable.
  • To effectively prevent human trafficking, real systemic change is needed as well as a system response, like this prevention framework.
  • The National Human Trafficking Prevention Framework takes into account factors that make individuals or communities more vulnerable to violence, and assess the ways that buffers can be created to prevent violence from being experienced by an individual or community.
  • Collective action is important for the prevention framework, making shared definitions essential, ensuring all those involved in the framework are working to move in the same direction and have common goals.



Sandra Morgan 0:00

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Kimberly Casey 2:05
Thank you, Sandie. I’m very excited to be here. We’ve talked about this for a while now, so looking forward to the conversation.

Sandra Morgan 2:12
Well, you and I have been having this prevention conversation for a really long time, and sometimes it feels like we’re trying to find a magic formula, or even something just super simple, like teaching toddlers to brush their teeth, that becomes a lifelong habit that prevents dental decay. The more I look at prevention, the more I realize it cannot be a one off presentation. Awareness is maybe the beginning, but it certainly does not encompass prevention. When I learned from you that the National Human Trafficking Prevention Framework was being developed and will be released, I wanted to have a conversation. So can you tell us just a little bit about your expectations for the framework?

Kimberly Casey 3:16
Absolutely. So we know that in addition to being a crime, in addition to being a human rights issue, human trafficking is really a public health issue. And like any public health issue, it’s preventable, right? But we need to have a whole system response put in place to be able to effectively prevent human trafficking because like you said, Sandie, human trafficking isn’t something that can be prevented with a one off presentation. It is something that will require real systemic change, and that is something that we have seen through the prevention of other types of forms of violence, other types of health issues. Through this prevention framework, what we’re really hoping to be able to do is bridge the connections between what we’ve learned to be effective and other forms of violence prevention or health promotion activities, to the human trafficking issue, so that we can advance from that knowledge base that already exists. So we’re fortunate that we don’t have to start from the very beginning. We can build off of what it is that other experts in communities have learned and advance our efforts from there. Through that, what we’re really hoping with this framework is that everyone will see their place in this particular activity. Sometimes human trafficking revention can feel very overwhelming. Sometimes people may not understand what role they have to play if they’re working on housing or health care or financial security. We want to make sure that we’re showing people really the depth of opportunity to become engaged in this work, and to be able to move forward together through collective action.

Sandra Morgan 5:24
I love the term collective action and when we close this session out, we’re going to come back to that. But let’s start with imagining ourselves on a journey where we’re all going to the same destination, prevention of human trafficking. Whether we’re talking about child sex trafficking, adult commercial sexual exploitation, or labor trafficking, our destination is prevention and to get there, we have some guiding principles in the framework. So before you even get in your vehicle to leave, these are the things you need to know. Can you walk us through how you designed the principles for this framework?

Kimberly Casey 6:13
Absolutely. So as we were building the framework, in general, we went to the existing evidence base. We went to the experts who have been working on prevention activities related to domestic violence or child abuse, talking about substance use prevention, various forms of violence and various different health activities, and ask them, “What were some of those core components that you really feel are translatable to any type of prevention work that we may want to achieve as a collective?” Then we also spent a lot of time talking to people with lived experience in human trafficking. So people who have experienced labor trafficking, people who have experienced sex trafficking, and we asked them, “What do you feel like need to be these foundational components before we really start diving into strategies and approaches what carries over everything that you might want to be doing?”. They came back with several really key components. One is equity and inclusivity. So recognizing that the people who experience human trafficking come from various races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, sexes, gender identities, orientations, disabilities, and ages, right, we were looking at a full spectrum of humanity, as we’re looking to address human trafficking. It’s so important that we don’t assume a one size fits all approach, that if we set a table, everyone will be able to come to that table, unless we’re really intentionally thinking about ‘what are the components that will bring people into those discussions? What are barriers to people coming into those conversations?’ Right? So we might think everyone has the ability to show up at that meeting that we may be hosting, but without really thinking about ‘how do they get there? What’s the transportation like?’ to kind of use a general example. We’re really trying to think through what do we need to put in place to make sure everyone has access to the work that we’re doing and that everything is culturally, linguistically appropriate for the communities that we’re working to serve, and really personalizes the approach based on the communities that we’re trying to reach. We know certain communities are at much higher risk for trafficking, looking at indigenous communities, people of color, to LGBTQIA communities, people with varying disabilities, youth who are system involved, foreign nationals, when we’re talking about reaching that breadth of a group, we really do need to be as intentional as possible in our efforts to do that work.

Sandra Morgan 9:19
And one of the things that is always a bit challenging in this and we’re looking at this from a US based perspective, but we have listeners and 148 countries, and sometimes there is a tendency for us to assume that if we have survivor voices here, then this is going to be a great program. But I probably need to find out from survivors in another place, what their experience is because it may not all be transferable. What happens in California may not happen in Arkansas, or Mexico, or Argentina. So in a public health model, we have to be really aware of who our community is composed of. That probably was not grammatically correct but you get what I mean.

Kimberly Casey 10:20
Absolutely, really understanding who it is you’re trying to reach, what are the daily experiences that they have? If you’re doing awareness activity, what is their level of literacy, right? Sometimes we think about just needing to translate materials into a person’s first language. But one of the things that we also know is just because it’s that person’s first language doesn’t mean they actually have the ability to read and write. Or, there are some languages that actually do not rely often on the written word and so we need to think about what is the verbal kind of representation of that look like? Really just making sure you understand your community, you understand those barriers, and truly the best way to do that is to make sure you’re in active conversation with people with lived experience, people who have come from those communities, who can tell you what the needs of those communities are, and the best way to reach them. I think one of the things that we often see too, is people will speak to one person with lived experience as they’re engaging on a project, but not thinking about how that one person can’t represent the voice of all survivors, and all different types of experiences. And so really finding opportunities to engage a diverse group of people with lived experience in that conversation as well and to make sure that you’re starting that discussion very early in the process, not bringing people in to kind of rubber stamp the work that you’ve already done. But oftentimes, when we’re doing this work, we’re talking to them before we actually put pen to paper to a concept, right, making sure that they’re engaged from the very beginning, so that we can make sure that what we ultimately create will be effective for those communities we’re trying to reach.

Sandra Morgan 12:14
Absolutely. Okay, so you ended up with the framework with eight strategies? First of all, how did you get it down to eight strategies?

Kimberly Casey 12:29
That was not easy. We really did try to go, like I said, back to the literature, back to what has really been proven to be effective, in various other forms of violence prevention or health promotion activities. We relied a lot on our colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, particularly the Division of Violence Prevention, who has done a lot of research and have published a lot of work around how we can effectively impact various forms of violence. They’ve also done some work around, they call it connecting the dots. Recognizing that different forms of violence are often interconnected and they also often have very similar risk and protective factors. There’s things that make people more vulnerable to violence, and there’s things that help to create buffers, or to help prevent violence from being experienced by an individual or community. We tried to take all of those lessons learned, and bring it into this particular framework, through our strategies and our approaches. There is so much else that we could have included, but we did try to make sure that we were staying within that really strong evidence base. Then we also went to the experts with lived experience to other groups that have been studying trafficking for quite some time to pull in those connections to anti trafficking work specifically to make sure we were filling in any gaps of things that might be unique to the anti trafficking space. It was a multi year process, honestly, of going through the literature refining, talking to experts, having peer reviews by people with lived experience to really refine that down. What I think we have landed with through the strategies and approaches that we do have, is there’s so much work that can happen within each of those because they are somewhat broader categories. I really do think, as I mentioned earlier, we are trying to create this framework in which everyone will see their place, I think through these strategies and approaches. Everyone who we know need to be involved in this ecosystem of prevention, really do have a space or a place within these strategies and approaches.

Sandra Morgan 15:08
One of the things that really stood out to me as I was reading this document, which we’ll put a link in the show notes, so people can download it. It’s big, it’s like around 70 some pages, but it’s really laid out well so that you can lay out your strategy, your organization goals, and compare, contrast, find out where you fit, it is connecting the dots. But it starts off with the CDC terms for strategy, and for approach and defined strateg as: “lays out the direction or actions to achieve the goal of preventing violence.” And the approach is: “to provide specific ways to advance the strategy through programs, policies, and practices.” We have another three P’s folks, Programs, Policies, and Practices. I think having practices here really activates this vision for these strategies. So let’s do like, less than a minute for each strategy Kimberly. I want to just engage people, and if you’re listening to this, and this is something that you hear, we need people in a collaborative formula, not to do, everybody does everything, but each one does what they’re good at and then together, we make progress. So what is the first strategy?

Kimberly Casey 16:51
So our first strategy is strengthening skills to promote self efficacy and prevent human trafficking. Here, what we’re really talking about is reaching the individual who may be at risk to human trafficking, and making sure that they have the information and tools to be able to identify and respond if they become vulnerable to trafficking, or if someone is trying to recruit or perhaps take advantage of them.

Sandra Morgan 17:22
That self efficacy, the fact that I can actually do something for myself, really is empowering. When I talk, especially to youth, they don’t want me to help. How many times, if you’re a parent, have you tried to help your youth and they’re like, “No, I want to do it myself.” I think that starts like at about two years old. So this strategy really leans in to this natural desire to be able to do things on our own. Let’s take a look at number two.

Kimberly Casey 17:45
So two is identifying and supporting people at risk or who have experienced trafficking, to increase safety and reduce harm. So here, again, really looking at those individual risk factors of someone who may be at high risk. Maybe they’re experiencing homelessness, or they are migrating and don’t have access to the resources that they need, or they’ve experienced human trafficking. We want to make sure that we’re intervening so that they don’t experience trafficking again in the future. Really, within this framework, we’re looking at preventing trafficking from happening ever, intervening as soon as we can, and then preventing re-trafficking later in life as well.

Sandra Morgan 18:47
Well, the thing I notice about the strategies as you take us into number three, is that they build on each other. They’re connected.

Kimberly Casey 18:57
Absolutely, yes. So we really kind of started with this individual aspect, looking at how we can target building resiliency within the individual, and then move through what we refer to as the social ecological model, which then addresses relationship, community, and society. With our third strategy, we’re looking at strengthening economic supports. We know that often people who experience trafficking are vulnerable because they don’t have access to the resources that we all need for living a safe and healthy life. They may be in a position where they have to take increased risks that some of us who have more financial stability wouldn’t even have to consider. We really want to make sure that we’re safeguarding that economic peace so that they don’t end up in situations where they have to engage in riskier decision making.

Sandra Morgan 19:58
I think when we look at that in the context of family environments, I know family because strategy number four is about promoting family environments that support healthy development. And if both of your parents are working two jobs and you come home to an empty apartment, that’s going to be connected to the economic aspects as well.

Kimberly Casey 20:28
Absolutely. What we want to be able to do is to create the supports that families need to be able to thrive, right. When we’re looking at economic supports and this promoting family environments, as you said, they’re very connected. We know that a lot of families, in order to meet their basic needs, you do have multiple families or multiple parents who may need to be working. We want to make sure that we’re thinking through, how do we create safe spaces within that situation to be able to come in and support the family so that everyone can thrive?

Sandra Morgan 21:15
And when we do that, and we go to strategy five, how does that connect to our communities?

Kimberly Casey 21:24
Absolutely. So with strategy five, we’re looking at promoting social connectedness. Here’s where we really start moving through the social ecological model, to move just from the individual, just from the family, and really look at communities. So oftentimes, when we think about risk to trafficking or we think about responsibility for preventing trafficking, oftentimes, we unfortunately put that responsibility on the individual or on the family, who is really doing the best that they can with the circumstances that they have. We want to start moving from this idea of individual protection to how can we build safer communities that protect the individuals within it. Here, we’re really looking at community and school engagement activities. Perhaps we know that a lot of the students in our communities do have families that require both parents to be working outside of the home. In a community and school engagement activity, we could create safe spaces for those youth to go. We can create mentoring programs or peer to peer support programs, and then resources that help people engage and connect to their community so that they’re not experiencing isolation, which could be used by someone who is looking to traffic an individual as a way to build connection that may be taken advantage of in the future. We want to build in those healthy, productive social programs.

Sandra Morgan 23:06
And real connections. The last podcast we did was about helping youth online understand who a real friend is. People reaching out and so much of the exploitation, recruiting, has been done online. That social connectedness in person has become a critical factor in especially keeping our youth safe, for sure. Your strategy six, because we could spend a long time on five, but we’re doing an overview today. Strategy six, seems really huge. I think of the whole sky and what part of it can I contribute to? This sixth strategy is create protective environments. Help me with that.

Kimberly Casey 24:07
Absolutely. So it is very broad, right? Because when we think of all of the different places, that people are connecting, and living, and engaging, we really do want to make sure that all of those environments are safe. For individuals who are in the workplace, how do we make sure that there are well established, consistently applied, policies and practices that if something unsafe happens within the work environment, there is an opportunity to seek support and for help in that situation. How do we create structures so that that maybe is even prevented from happening right? We look a lot at our supply chains. We know that oftentimes within supply chains, workers are taken advantage of so that people can reduce the cost of production and sell goods at a lower rate, however, we need to make sure that all of those workers are protected. We also really want to be looking at our school environments. How do we create safety in the school environment so that if someone feels unsafe, they have the opportunity to reach out for help? This can be as simple as enforcing programs and policies related to bullying. When you send kids out on the playground, and you have monitors who are looking to make sure that those environments are safe, that is something that should be translated into the monitoring and practices of school environments as kids progress and age. And so really thinking through what is it that we can put in place to enhance safety from a physical, emotional, and mental well being component. We often think about physical safety, but we don’t necessarily think of that mental and emotional safety, which is extremely critical for youth who may be at risk or experiencing trafficking.

Sandra Morgan 26:11
Absolutely. So strategy seven is my sweet spot, foster multidisciplinary networks and coalitions. I think that is a way for us to move forward where we are all going in the same direction. But where I wasn’t really clear, is in strategy eight, promote social norms that protect against violence. What kind of social norms are we addressing in this strategic approach?

Kimberly Casey 26:50
Absolutely. So there are so many, again, that can kind of fall under this umbrella. But one of the things for example, within labor trafficking, we all like to purchase goods that are budget friendly, right?

Sandra Morgan 27:07
Yeah, I just use the word cheap.

Kimberly Casey 27:09
Cheap. Yes. Right. So we all want that, right? We’re all operating on a budget, we have limited resources. But one of the things that’s also really important for us to consider is, if a good is purchased extremely cheap, what were the production costs for that? So thinking through the supply chain, right? So if I’m paying $3 for a shirt, how much did it cost to produce that? And if I’m purchasing something so cheap, what’s the likelihood that someone may have been exploited through the production process? Really, one of the social norms is, while yes, we need to operate on budgets and be responsible with the funds that we have, how do we also interrogate and investigate to make sure that people who are producing the goods that we consume, didn’t experience exploitations so that they could receive something at a cheaper rate. So really, it’s holding businesses accountable for saying, “You need to be responsible for looking to make sure that your supply chains are free of forced or coerced labor, so that I can then feel comfortable and ethical in my purchasing of particular goods.” We know that there are certain industries that may be at higher risk for supply chain abuse and so it’s really being a responsible consumer, both from the financial perspective but also the ethical perspective to make sure that we’re not increasing demand for resources at a rate that our system can’t support.

Sandra Morgan 28:55
I love that. Our Live2Free student team here at Vanguard has been promoting changing social norms around fast fashion that feeds this area. I think it makes us begin to think about our own complicity in driving demand. We sometimes think, “Oh, I’m only one,” but that’s part of the social norms that we have to change. Oh my goodness, our time is almost up. But I don’t want to finish without looking at Appendix A, Appendix A in this framework. Sometimes people read something they never open the appendix. Appendix A is a treasure trove for your organization. It has activities and outcomes. If you’re writing up a program and you haven’t looked at how to do these things, you’re going to find some things that will fit for you. But the best part of this appendix is the idea of a collective forum. There are a few guidelines that help us all go in the same direction. When we’re talking about building a movement, ending human trafficking, we have to all go in the same direction so we leverage the momentum that we build. Can you give us just like 90 seconds of what the guidelines for a collective forum might be based on?

Kimberly Casey 30:39
Absolutely. So as we’re looking at collective action, like you said, we’re all working to move in the same direction. And so some of that is shared definitions, right? We need to make sure that we’re all talking about the same thing. We all want to have common goals, we also want to make sure that we are using similar measures. So if I’m collecting different data points than my partner is collecting, it will be difficult for us to show that collective impact. The other piece that I think is really important is recognizing, as we said, not everyone is going to engage in the same activity. So how do you make sure that there is synergy with the activities that you are implementing? So is what you’re doing mutually reinforcing? And are you regularly in communication with your partners? It is difficult to have a shared or common agenda if you are not constantly talking about what you’re learning and how you’re adapting. And so really making sure that those conversations are ongoing, and that everyone who needs to be in those conversations are involved.

Sandra Morgan 31:59
We are all going in the same direction, and giving us guidelines and kind of like map directions. It’s like listening to Siri or Alexa tell me where to turn next. That’s what this framework is really going to give us as we move forward. And I just have to say, Kimberly, that I am very grateful that you are serving in the Office on Trafficking in Persons at Health and Human Services and I’m grateful for your leadership. I want to invite you to come back and talk about some of these issues more in depth. I think the one I really want to look at next, so I’m like inviting you to our next podcast interview already, online so you have to say yes, right?

Kimberly Casey 32:58

Sandra Morgan 32:58
Yeah, I want to talk about two generation, whole family approaches. And there’s just so many pieces of the framework, that we’ll take a deep dive, so I encourage everyone to go online, click on the link to the framework, and just spend some time figuring out where you fit in this structure, because it is going to help us grow the momentum of our movement to end human trafficking here and elsewhere. So Kimberly, thank you so much for joining us today.

Kimberly Casey 33:38
Thank you so much. I’ve enjoyed it. You know, I will talk about prevention at any point someone gives me the opportunity. So thank you for having me.

Sandra Morgan 33:46
I wish we were closer, we’re on opposite coasts, but we’ve got zoom. So that’ll be a great conversation. We’ll see you again another time.

Kimberly Casey 33:56
Thank you, Sandie.

Sandra Morgan 34:00

Thank you so much for tuning in today, I will see you all again in two weeks. In the meantime, go to the show notes to find the links we’ve talked about here today, and if you haven’t been to the website, go over to endinghumantrafficking.org, where you can find a library of past episodes, of resources, and get more connected with our community.

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