Hope Unlimited

Anti-trafficking Initiative

Norma Mouton, Director of Hope Unlimited, and Linda Buehring, Training Coordinator, spoke to our club about Hope Unlimited's anti-trafficking initiative.  
Norma’s background is in education.  Linda spent 32 years in Federal law enforcement and retired air force. 
Hope Unlimited focuses on awareness, prevention, and education regarding human trafficking.  Trafficking is exploitation, a violation of human rights, and occurs in every part of the world.  Victims can be any age.  Many cases go unnoticed because it is a hidden crime. 
The “Blue Campaign” was started to end human trafficking.
Human trafficking is the dehumanization process of holding another in compelled service using whatever means necessary.  Millions of people are victims.  Human trafficking is exploiting people for financial gain.  It is a form of modern day slavery.  It is a lucrative business with low risk to traffickers.  The traffickers lure victims with promises to entice the victim (love, adventure, etc.).  Traffickers then use violence, fear, and force to intimidate them.  Victims are sometimes too young to know what is happening to them.  Traffickers groom their victims.  Victims don’t identify as victims or they are too ashamed to report. 
Victims can be nannies or domestic servants (slavery, child labor, involuntary servitude).  Sexual exploitation can be prostitution and pornography.  Traffickers are profiting from the expense of the victims.  The crimes touch ever part of our society.
Indicators of trafficking are false documentation, individuals exhibiting behaviors indicating depression, tension, submission, fear and anxiety.  Individual claims to be “just visiting” an area but is unable to articulate where he/she is staying or cannot remember the address.  Inconsistent stories.  Bystanders are the eyes of the community.  You can prevent this from happening.
Hope Unlimited attempts to teach the indicators of trafficking and teach people to report it.
Commercial Sexual Abuse of a Minor:  Class B felony.  Consent of a minor to the sexual conduct does not constitute a defense to any offense listed in this section.
Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, after illegal drugs, with children accounting for half of the victims. 
Any one from any background, education, socioeconomic class can be victims however, youth of color and those in the lower socioeconomic class are at higher risk.  Children as young as 5 and 6 are victims.  We do not have any programs in the US to teach children this young how to stay safe.  The youngest program starts at 12 years old.  Canada has a great program called Teatree Tells from pre-k through grade 10. 
"iEmpathize" is a program designed to empower students with knowledge and strategies they need to navigate vulnerabilities.  The program helps develop empathy.  It is an interactive program.
Hope Unlimited brings awareness to human trafficking by partnering with victim support services and teaching classes on trafficking.   They work with Cocoon House too.  If someone is being exploited contact law enforcement and ask for an officer that handles human trafficking.  Not every officer has been trained to handle trafficking cases.  There is a national human trafficking hotline available 24/7.  If you see something, say something! 

National Human Trafficking Hotline

1 (888) 373-7888
SMS: 233733 (Text "HELP" or "INFO")
Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish and 200 more languages