In the spirit of spreading awareness on human trafficking I think it is necessary to give to full, legal, (and possibly dense) definition. In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines human trafficking and describes the two main forms of trafficking, sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” in the following ways:
(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
(B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt- bondage, or slavery.
Essentially, the most important part of these definitions when determining if a situation is a case of human trafficking is the presence of force, fraud, or coercion.
So how does the issue of human trafficking fit within the work of the Community-AID Lab? Truthfully, I’m still exploring the complete answer to this! However, I have discovered prevention and intervention initiatives for underprivileged youth are at the core of anti-human trafficking efforts. This became evident when my Community-AID work intersected with my anti-human trafficking work at a recent Curriculum Committee Meeting for the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force wherein we discussed ways to create a curriculum to educate youth on the issue of human trafficking.
Before my time in the Community-AID lab I had no understanding about the challenges educators and students face in Michigan schools. Before beginning my time as a Community Psychology graduate student at MSU I didn’t understand the importance of strategic framing and dissemination of your program or message so it is effective and accepted. Before beginning my research career in the relatively un-empirically researched area of human trafficking I thought that definitive statistics were the only way to approach an issue and influence change. Now I see the ability of individuals and organizations to enact change and help survivors of human trafficking despite a lack of research and funding to support their efforts. Before I started working in the area of anti-human trafficking efforts I was never so “okay” with having to adjust what I wanted to research to fit the needs of the community.
What am I getting at? Where am I going with this blog post and with my career researching human trafficking? Honestly, I’m not 100% sure. Hopefully you’re just as okay with it as I am because regardless of where I end up (or where this blog post ends up) I know I am going to, at the VERY least, keep raising awareness on this issue. Not just during human trafficking awareness month but for every day of every year as long as I have access to social media and/or a (semi-) captive audience.
For more information about how to recognize human trafficking or to learn what organizations in Michigan are doing to combat human trafficking visit:
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force Blog
Stop This Traffic