Just Ask Prevention's Interception

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INTERCEPTION Just Ask Prevention Project Magazine




JUST ASK PREVENTION and Rotary Club Guadalajara

TAKING ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING in the Commonwealth of Virginia

JUST ASK Looks to the Future in the Student Advisory Council

K.D. Roche

is a keynote speaker, author, and comedian who likes to inspire, motivate, and educate their audience while providing valuable content.



Welcome to the inaugural issue of Interception, Just Ask Prevention Foundation’s magazine. In the ongoing fight to bring an end to human trafficking, this publication is another outlet to connect with our supporters, spread awareness, and share relevant information and success stories. In this issue, you’ll learn about the history of the organization and the evolution of its prevention curriculum; headway being made by our Student Advisory Council; prevention training efforts in a Rotary Club in Guadalajara; how sex tourism plays a role in human trafficking; and much more. This magazine is a work in progress. The layout and length of future issues of Interception may change over time, but its goal remains steadfast: to provide our readers with the tools they need to recognize, combat, and eventually abolish human trafficking. Please feel free to share this publication, and we encourage you to reach out with topics that you would like to see in future issues. All the best in 2020,


Dr. Payne noticed that the issue was affecting students in the community and initiated conversations with local law enforcement agencies, gang prevention services, and other community outreach groups. From these conversations, Dr. Payne learned that this type of crime is not isolated, but pervasive across Northern Virginia.


Human Trafficking is a crime that forcefully exploits men, women, and children and affects every country in the world, according to the United Nations. By Natalie Porter

The 2018 Federal Human Trafficking Report notes that over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the United States were sex trafficking cases involving only children, who are more vulnerable and easily manipulated than adults.

Just Ask has been working closely with two of the largest school districts in Virginia and together developed a preventative curriculum implemented in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) since 2014 and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) since 2018.

To prevent and combat this crime, which is responsible for over billions of dollars in revenue, school divisions nationwide have started to implement and initiate programs and curricula. According to Heather Fischer, Human Trafficking manager at the McCain Institute, “…the trafficking and exploitation of our children is happening in communities across the United States.

After working through the initial development, the Just Ask curriculum has been put into place in schools worldwide, including schools in Mexico and the Netherlands.

To safeguard children, we need to go ‘upstream’ and give parents, children, and educators information to help them recognize a potentially harmful situation, know what to do, and who they can turn to for help.”

As this critical information is being taught in classrooms, students are connecting to the materials, crimes are being reported, and communities are becoming better informed.

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A trafficking prevention curriculum like Just Ask’s is a key component in educating and empowering youth to protect themselves from predators.

Just Ask Curriculum: How it Came to Be Just Ask’s Curriculum was launched when a member of the general public decided to act on the stories she was hearing. In 2012, as teen sex trafficking was becoming a more prominent headline in local media outlets, Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Payne, who serves as the K–12 Coordinator for Health, Family Life Education, and Physical Education for FCPS (with an enrollment of 180,000+ students), recognized the need to become more informed. Her position requires her to bring light to issues directly affecting youth in all areas of their well-being, from infectious diseases to child abuse. The more she learned about teen sex trafficking, the more she saw the need to include it in the standards under family life instruction.

Developing a curriculum did not happen overnight. It took almost two years from the idea in 2012 to full implementation in FCPS in January of 2014. All 6–12 grade students who were in Family Life Education (FLE) classes had access to the new information during the 2014–2015 school year after Dr. Payne, along with then-Detective Bill Woolf and members of his team, worked together to create a functional curriculum. FCPS used many of their resources to piece together a program that fit their unique population, utilizing district staff and resources, in addition to the general knowledge provided by Woolf and his team. The teen trafficking curriculum was imbedded into the existing FLE lessons. For example, in 8th grade, healthy and unhealthy relationships are compared, so the addition of grooming and abusive behaviors are discussed as a tie into trafficking. As students grow older, the discussions become more explicitly about trafficking and extortion. In addition to the lessons, the team created a set of videos called “Tricked.”

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STUDENT RESPONSE Loudoun County FLE teacher, Deanna Raborg, reports that students are incredibly receptive and quite surprised by some of the information they learn. “We are countering certain assumptions that have been made, based on what they’ve heard or have seen in a movie or on social media, as human trafficking doesn’t always involve traveling or kidnapping,” Raborg says. “It can be happening to someone sitting right next to them in class, and they wouldn’t even know.”

According to Dr. Payne, the integration of the trafficking awareness material into the existing lesson plans experienced a smooth transition. One of the most valuable lessons she has learned through this process is the importance of engaging the service people in the school district and community, such as school psychologists, social workers, counselors, and school resource officers, so they can all be on the same page as they teach youth about healthy relationships and protecting themselves. After FCPS began implementing the curriculum, word spread and neighboring Loudoun County saw the value that this instruction had to offer. It was around the time that the Just Ask Prevention Project was founded that LCPS was in search of a curriculum. Sheila Jones, then the Supervisor for Health/PE, Drivers Education, Adaptive PE & Family Life Education in LCPS, together with the Supervisor of Student Assistance Services, Jennifer Wall, began to schedule trainings and human trafficking workshops for school district support service staff and FLE teachers. Some of those presentations included local law enforcement agencies and antitrafficking organizations from the Northern Virginia area. In their search and discussions, they, with the help of Woolf, discovered

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that the Just Ask curriculum was in the process of being written. LCPS adopted the curriculum, and FLE teachers were trained. LCPS is unique in that there are teachers who teach the sensitive portions of the health curriculum in grades 4–12. To address this, Woolf and LCPS FLE teachers convened and reviewed the material, looking at all aspects from visual layout to content for each grade level, and discussing each of the lessons. The delivery of human trafficking content begins in grade 6 and goes through grade 10. Similar to Fairfax County, Loudoun has aligned the curriculum with each grade’s Standards of Learning (SOLs) so that students aren’t receiving information above their ability to comprehend. As of publication, LCPS FLE teachers have taught this curriculum for one full year and are currently in the middle of their second year. In addition to Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, the Just Ask prevention curriculum has been implemented in many other school districts, including in Jalisco, Mexico and the Netherlands. Just Ask team members work with school officials in each location to tailor the material to their unique needs and concerns.

Particularly meaningful experiences occur in Raborg’s classroom when students listen to a scenario describing a young person who is groomed and manipulated for a long period of time before being exploited. Hearing this scenario seems to catch their attention. “The students are so attentive and receptive, one could hear a pin drop,” Raborg claims. Students pay attention to every detail. They listen closely and the discussion that follows revolves around the subtle ways grooming can occur. Raborg can see the connections being made in many students’ minds. Teachers have responded with positivity as well. “It’s not that we love the idea of the topic, but that we feel it’s impactful,” Raborg adds. “There are positive things happening from students hearing this information. They might realize something is occurring in their life and they didn’t even know there was a problem.”

Once students begin to see what grooming behavior or trafficking situations look like, some have come forward with reports of such abuse. “We have services available to students and teachers, as support staff has been trained in responding to reports,” Wall says. “Prevention is the main objective. We want to normalize the conversation in some way, so students feel comfortable coming forward with concerns.” Dr. Payne reports that Fairfax County students have come forward to teachers as well. Because trafficking situations often do not look like they do in the movies, it can be hard for students to imagine that grooming or trafficking can be happening to them. The stories and scenarios make it easier for students to see problematic behaviors that may be happening at home or online.

Both teachers and administrators have observed that students are especially receptive to the personal stories and anecdotes in the curriculum and videos. These stories seem to have the biggest impact on students because the experiences of survivors, former pimps, and people working directly with cases resonate. Woolf’s testimony, for example, is one of a person with real stories that engage students and teach them that trafficking isn’t something that can only happen to “those people.” It can and does happen to people they know and love. Dr. Payne mentioned that she didn’t realize just how important the stories would be to students, noting that if she has time to go back and update the lessons, she will add more scenarios for the class to walk through. Seeing how the stories play out and the decisions the young person made along the way is the most powerful teaching tool in these teachers’ belts.

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“My students are often so shocked that this is going on right here where they live. I know that we FLE teachers are building into this generation of students the awareness not only to protect themselves and their friends, but also to stand up to this horrific crime as they become adults. We are illuminating, educating, and advocating for our students’ safety, and for the freeing of those caught in the chains or human trafficking” - Deb Richardson, LCPS FLE Teacher

PARENT & COMMUNITY RESPONSE When Dr. Payne initially presented the new information to parents before integrating it into the existing Family Life Education curriculum, there was a good amount of pushback. Many parents believed the common myth that human trafficking is a crime committed in foreign or underdeveloped places. They didn’t want their children to discuss these difficult topics because they didn’t believe that these terrible things could happen in Fairfax County. Over time, the pushback decreased. When parents of sixth graders, who are being introduced to the material for the first time, raise concerns, teachers and administrators are able to say confidently that trafficking does happen in their community, and they have seen firsthand the benefits of the education. School districts that have implemented the curriculum can point to reports that have been made and children that have been protected. They can talk about

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the powerful discussions that often follow presentation of the materials. As a result of the learning and growing they have seen, teachers have become some of the most powerful advocates for this type of education for teenagers. In fact, Dr. Payne reports that one of her assistant principals told her that this prevention education is the most important instruction they do. The Just Ask Prevention Foundation continues to focus on sharing information and raising awareness across all forums, including school districts, and those highlighted here are on the right path to protecting their youth— delivering and disseminating information that is current, applicable, and potentially life-saving, as human trafficking continues to become more pervasive in our society. To prevent, we must educate.

“Students always want to know if it’s a real story upon listening to the recorded stories from the curriculum. They are thankful and truly appreciate learning about the reality of Human Trafficking.” - Deb Richardson, LCPS FLE Teacher

“My students have asked if this really can happen in Ashburn. They want to trust people but begin to realize not everyone has their best interest at heart. They didn’t realize the manipulation process could take so long. They appreciate the information and are captivated by the victims’ stories because they are relating to someone their own age. It’s such powerful information for the students.” - Wendy Melnikoff, LCPS FLE Teacher

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JUST ASK PREVENTION PROJECT: A HISTORY By Bill Woolf “The community needs to be aware of what is happening right in their own backyards. We need good people who are willing to step up and help raise awareness about the realities of human trafficking here in northern Virginia.” This statement, made during a community forum hosted by local Congressman Frank Wolf and State delegate Barbara Comstock, launched the start of what was to become the Just Ask Trafficking Prevention Foundation, an internationally recognized leader in the fight to end human trafficking through prevention. When I was invited to this 2013 event, I was asked—as the lead detective for the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force—to provide the community with an

overview on the current state of human trafficking in northern Virginia. At the end of the forum, a woman with expertise in communications approached me. I had struck a chord in her, and she asked if we could meet over the next week to discuss what I meant by raising awareness. One meeting turned into several, and we discussed how traffickers groomed and manipulated young people into a life of exploitation and what could be done to stop it. The answer was always “make people aware.” So many young people fall prey to traffickers’ lies because they just don’t know the threat even exists. And once they realize the trafficker’s malicious intent, they didn’t know what to do or who to turn to about it.

During this strategizing period, I was called out on a case. Arriving at the police station close to midnight, I was worn out, but I thought how much more worn out this poor 17-year-old girl, Emily—who had been involved in commercial sex at a hotel—must be. The interview began more easily than most—Emily was fairly forthcoming compared to many other victims. As her story unfolded, I learned that she had been trafficked since she was 14 years old, having been recruited and groomed by her trafficker whom she met through a friend at school. Her trafficker quickly turned into a monster, manipulating her into having sex with strangers for money. Over the next three years, she was forced to have sex with hundreds of men. Emily went from an A and B student to barely passing, drawing the attention of her parents and school administrators, whose reaction was to lecture her on the importance of having good grades and focusing on her schoolwork. This had no effect. She began to fall asleep in class and became disorderly and disruptive—a common behavioral trait of those who are exploited. School counselors got involved and “counseled” Emily on the importance of doing well in school and behaving appropriately. Her behavior continued to decline and eventually the juvenile court system got involved, appointing Emily with a probation officer, anger management counselors, and a substance abuse counselor. As I sat there listening as she poured her heart out to me, I became more confused with each turn of her story. How was it possible that she was surrounded by all of these professionals, yet no one ever identified her as a victim of

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human trafficking? Eventually I had to ask. Where had the system failed? The answer was one I didn’t suspect. Emily looked me square in the eye and with a tone more serious and direct than a judge at sentencing said, “Because no one ever asked.” I can only imagine the look on my face at that moment, but one thing was certain—the silence was deafening. I just couldn’t imagine that no one had ever asked this child what was causing her to fall apart. Wise and able beyond her years, Emily decided to break the silence for me and explain what she meant. “Everyone was too busy pointing their finger at me, telling me what I was doing wrong—that I needed to get better grades, to correct my attitude, to get my life and priorities straight—but no one ever bothered to ask me what was going in my life to cause all of this. If someone had just asked what was happening, I would have told them, but I never felt like they wanted to hear what I had to say, so I remained silent.” There are moments in one’s life that leave an indelible mark, a vivid image that often alters the course of your life—this was one of them.

The next week, plans continued to form on how we could raise awareness and enlighten people within the community to be better equipped at addressing human trafficking. Still feeling some residual shock from hearing Emily’s story, I had to share the part that had especially stayed with me. When I repeated Emily’s words “if someone had just asked,” a light bulb went off. I knew we would call our campaign to raise awareness “Just Ask” because it clearly defined our mission to empower all community members in their personal and professional capacities to just ask that critical question.

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A working group of professionals from law enforcement, domestic violence services, counselors and therapists, teachers, faith and other community leaders was formed in an effort to identify the gaps existing in our efforts to bring an end to human trafficking. This led to six years of incorporating, obtaining 501(c)(3) status, and developing comprehensive programming to address those gaps. Working first in the northern Virginia

area, the efforts of the organization has expanded into 31 states and 6 countries around the world. Just Ask has garnered attention from all levels of local, state, and federal government to include the United States Congress and the House—most recently being called the “gold standard in prevention curriculum” by the seventhlargest school district in the country.

Just Ask exists to help increase knowledge of communities and professionals alike to more effectively combat human trafficking through primary and secondary prevention. Our goal is stopping it from ever happening in the first place and protecting those who have already been exploited from repeated exploitation. We have had our fair share of failures and challenges, but also many successes, such as the following: Maria was a 17-year-old high school student who came from an upper middleclass home. She was active in sports and other after-school activities, as well as holding down a part-time job. However, she suffered from low self-esteem and desperately wanted a boyfriend. One

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day a young man, five years her senior, approached her while she was working. He expressed interest in Maria and over the course of several weeks, courted her into thinking that they were in a loving, caring relationship. Then one day, he approached her with a financial emergency, crafted to coerce Maria into a life of sexual exploitation predicated on the lie that it was all in the “name of love.” Luckily, the next day Maria went to school and participated in the program implemented by Just Ask.

Because of this program, Maria recognized what was happening and was empowered to seek help instead of being exploited. She went home and had a conversation with her mother, then contacted law enforcement; her would-be trafficker was arrested and found guilty of sex trafficking. Just Ask is comprised of recognized experts in the field of human trafficking, working alongside dedicated and highly skilled volunteers. The team works diligently, and often around the clock, to ensure that it can deliver the highest-quality programming and inform the public on what they need to know about human trafficking. We strive daily to carry out our mission: to foster partnerships with communities to abolish human trafficking through education, prevention, and intervention strategies.

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PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: iCare By Sydney Schoenhals

The work that Just Ask does is important, but the only way we will be able to end human trafficking is through collaboration. We are grateful to form new connections all the time as awareness spreads about trafficking and the role everyone has to play in preventing and addressing it. The Partner Spotlight highlights one of our incredible partners. iCare is a game-changing nonprofit headquartered in Evans, GA. Executive Director Ginger Amerson and her husband started the organization as a grassroots effort, responding to trafficking survivors who were in need of long-term care that did not exist in the area. The Amersons met with other community professionals to discuss how best to build a survivor support system. From their collaboration, iCare was created and continues to address a wide range of needs. iCare’s goals fall into a three-pronged approach: to prevent trafficking, to intervene when it has occurred, and to participate in the restorative process. INTERCEPTION | Just Ask Prevention Project 14

At each step, they constantly evaluate their approach and change or add programs to best accomplish their goals.

therapists, and mentors, they have seen family members, especially siblings, avoid their own exploitation.

iCare’s prevention efforts center around their youth awareness program and the holistic care they provide to families where children may be vulnerable to trafficking. They present their youth awareness program throughout the community to schools, churches, youth-serving organizations, PTOs, and group homes. Prevention education programs like iCare’s are key to giving youth the tools they need to protect themselves from potential threats.

The most important piece of iCare’s intervention program is their Assessment Cottage, which is a safe place for survivors to visit immediately after leaving a trafficking situation. Social workers and doctors determine the mental, physical, and educational needs of the survivor while he or she is there. Girls are able to rest and recover for a few days before they discuss their short-term and long-term plans with social workers. If it is decided that a survivor must go to a longterm care facility, iCare sends a “belonging box,” so they know they are wanted and cared for. Trained volunteers are with them every step of the way. Ginger elaborates on the importance of being at this crossroads in a survivor’s journey.

Through their work with families of survivors, Ginger and the iCare team identified another group that could benefit from preventative efforts— the siblings and family members of trafficking survivors. By providing families of survivors with medical care, quality

“We deal with many clients where so much trust has been broken and so many promises have been made that were never fulfilled,” she says. “In many cases, systems have failed them. For them to see someone who is steadily in their life, who will be there tomorrow, is powerful.” In addition, iCare has various programs within its restoration arm, including a young mother’s home for which they are raising funds while it is in the process of being built. iCare team members saw that young mothers often need to find someone to take their children while they live in long-term restorative facilities. If they don’t have a strong support system, many opt out of the care they need so that they will not have to be separated. iCare’s mother’s home seeks to remedy this issue. Survivors enroll in an 18-month program that includes parenting, life skills, and education classes, as well as childcare during the day and volunteers who help them as they take care of their own children the rest of the day. The 7,000-square-foot home includes a 24/7 staff. iCare knows that the young mother’s home will be life changing for the survivors who choose to live there with their children. Furthermore, iCare is developing is a curriculum tool for parents whose children have survived trafficking. This was created because basic parenting manuals don’t offer guidance on parenting a child who has been exploited and is experiencing complex trauma. iCare’s parenting guide acknowledges that both the survivor and the family have experienced trauma and their tools must be trauma-informed. This guide is game-changing for the families of survivors and can greatly improve the whole family’s trajectory. iCare is truly doing groundbreaking and innovative work in Georgia, and we’re so grateful to be their partner. INTERCEPTION | Just Ask Prevention Project 15


and Rotary Club Guadalajara By Heinz Ehrsam

Heinz Ehrsam is the Director of Held Internacional, a manufacturing organization based in Guadalajara, Mexico. In addition to his professional work, Ehrsam is a member of the Rotary Club of Guadalajara. Through his work for the Rotary Club, he has been an essential part of Just Ask’s work in Mexico.

In Mexico, the issue of human trafficking is more prevalent than most people would imagine. Since this crime does not get enough media coverage and is so gruesome, many do not want to deal with it. From partnering with Just Ask Prevention, the Rotary Club of Guadalajara has learned about the gravity of the issue. We now know that the only way to be effective in helping to end human trafficking is by generating awareness about the problem and its magnitude, and by creating tools to identify trafficking signs and patterns. Rotary International’s President Mark Daniel Maloney’s theme for 2019–2020, Rotary Connects the World, asks Rotarians to build the connections that allow us to unite and take meaningful action through Rotary service. The aim is to complete projects that have a lasting impact, and our organization believes this should undoubtedly be one of them. Connecting with Just Ask Prevention is a clear example of working on a project that can have a profound and lasting impact. Considering that Rotary unites 1.2 million people with over 35,000 clubs around the world, the Rotary Club of Guadalajara feels that starting an initiative in our community can eventually grow to a global-scale project.

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Some time ago, in a Presidential conference that explored routes to peace, actress and humanitarian Sharon Stone said, “The more we understand the darkness of our enemies, the better we know what to do, how to respond and behave.” So in generating that awareness, Just Ask Prevention has already trained over 200 people who are now empowered to teach other trainers about human trafficking prevention. Through the partnership between Just Ask Prevention and the Rotary Club of Guadalajara, we have trained teachers in high-vulnerability schools, non-governmental organizations, government human rights entities, heads of other social programs, and the police force in the municipality of Tlaquepaque.

Now we are planning to set up another round of training. Our goal is to continue our mission of making human trafficking training a global project by including other Rotary Clubs in the state of Jalisco. Protecting our children and youth is critical to our society. Together with Just Ask Prevention, Rotary Club of Guadalajara members are raising awareness and prevention in our community, intending to expand the project to the whole country by connecting with other Rotary Clubs.

Protecting our children and youth is critical to our society. Together with Just Ask Prevention, Rotary Club of Guadalajara members are raising awareness and prevention in our community, intending to expand the project to the whole country by connecting with other Rotary Clubs.

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Just Ask Prevention’s Survivor Series spotlights individuals who were victims of human trafficking and the invaluable work they’re doing in their community to combat this atrocity. We recognize that to be successful as an organization dedicated to ending human trafficking, listening to survivors at every step of our work is critical. The incredible survivors showcased here are those with the real experience and insight in how Just Ask can best further its mission to eradicate trafficking through education, prevention, and intervention. K.D. Roche is a keynote speaker, author, and comedian who likes to inspire, motivate, and educate their audience while providing valuable content. As a human trafficking field expert and survivor of childhood trafficking, they are a regular consultant for law enforcement, health care professionals, government organizations, and other service providers. Just Ask Prevention: Could you start by telling us a little bit about you personally, outside of the work that you do? K.D. Roche: Sure! I live in the Indianapolis area with my family, our three dogs, and cat. When I am not working, I like to spend time outdoors gardening or working on my house. If I’m not doing that, I’m most likely doing something to engage with my creative side: sketching, writing, or performing spoken word or comedy at a coffeehouse or cabaret.

Just Ask: That sounds like fun! I’ve heard that you sometimes perform spoken word or use comedy as well in the anti-trafficking work that you do. That’s unique. Could you tell us more about that? K.D.: Yeah. I have been doing training on human trafficking for about five years now, but I started training and consulting full time about a year and a half ago. I love speaking, but I realized how draining it was to talk so much about trauma and trafficking. There is a lot of hard work to do in this field, and

K.D. Roche Interview by Aubrey McMahan

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sometimes it gets overwhelming. I think we forget to take time to breathe and laugh. Art and laughter have a way of creating connection and solidarity while giving us a break from all of the heavy talk, so I started using my love for poetry and comedy to engage in a different way with my audience. Whatever I perform is connected in some way to the conference theme or topic of my training. Sometimes I even do comedy relief as a performance during conference lunches. It gives people a break from information overload. Just Ask: That’s great! I know you train on human trafficking, but are there any specific topics that you like to teach the most? K.D.: Yeah. I have trained a lot on working with the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer +) community and on family-involved trafficking. Those have probably been my most requested pieces of training, but I have created a few new presentations and received a lot of excellent feedback. One of them is Strategies for Organizational Capacity Building, and the other one is Stop Selling Shock and Empower Survivors: Effective Marketing Strategies that Don’t Rely on Sensationalism. Just Ask: Those are important topics. Just Ask does prevention work and education for the community; how would you say sensationalism impacts human trafficking prevention efforts? K.D.: Sensationalism in the media and even by direct service providers increases misconceptions about what human trafficking looks like and contributes to the stigma that survivors face. So much of the

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imagery and sensationalism of survivor stories do not actually reflect what human trafficking looks like in the majority of cases. Photos of girls with tape over their mouths, their hands tied up or in cages gives the impression that those trafficked are physically held captive or locked in a basement somewhere. People don’t believe trafficking is happening in their communities because that’s not what trafficking looks like most of the time. It also paints this picture of what a victim should look like. Most of the time, images used are of a very young Caucasian girl who looks like she is begging for help or waiting for someone to rescue her. Just Ask: Since most human trafficking victims don’t look like that, can you tell us what we should be looking for? K.D.: There is no one “look” of a trafficking victim. But most of them don’t look like what you would find when you google it on Google Images. Demographically overrepresented populations of human trafficking victims are people of color, specifically women of color; LGBTQ+; people with both physical and mental disabilities; immigrants; and undocumented persons. In fact, according to statistics published by the FBI, 59% of all juvenile prostitution arrests involve African-Americans. As far as red flags, they vary with the type of trafficking. You very well could have passed a person being trafficked in a gas station or rest stop—quite possibly wondering how a parent could let their teenager dress “like that.” You might notice a young person with an “older boyfriend” who isolates them from friends or family or seems controlling. A person being trafficked by a family member may not have any

of the “typical” red flags you might expect. They might attend school and extracurricular activities and make good grades. The reality is that trafficking victims are everywhere, many times people you wouldn’t even pick out if you saw them in a crowd. That is why it is so important to learn about tactics used by traffickers to remain undetected, like holding well-respected positions in the community. When a victim interacts with direct service providers like nurses, social workers, teachers, etc., they may come across as challenging or as mentally troubled or have bruises or frequent physical complaints, even physical pain with no detectable medical explanation. Psychological trauma manifests itself often through physical ailments.

Just Ask: You also recently published a book, didn’t you? K.D.: Yes! Fragments: A Post-Traumatic Paradigm was released in June of this year. It is a compilation of memoir, poetry, and creative non-fiction that tells my story in the same way that a child processes traumatic experiences—in a sensible and non-linear way. My intention in writing the book wasn’t to tell my story for people to learn what happened to me, but to say to it in a way that helps people understand how my mind adapted to survive. It is fragmented and choppy—to take the reader through what it feels like to live in a dissociated state. When a child has to dissociate to survive regularly, their brain develops differently. Dissociation takes mental and emotional intelligence, so while it can create long-term difficulties for the survivor and affect the way they process information, it often also makes them very innovative and good at problem solving.

Just Ask: So how can someone purchase your book or find out how to get in touch with you for training or consulting? K.D.: They can purchase the book from my website, www.kdroche.com and for booking or consult requests, they can email info@kdroche.com

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as well. As more data is collected, agencies like ECPAT International are drawing attention to the wider variety of situations that may end in child exploitation. While many of the offenders are pedophiles who travel specifically to engage in sexual acts with children, others are businesspeople, voluntourists, transit workers, and even domestic tourists. ECPAT’s 2016 Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism reminds us that it is essential to remember that offenders can be any type of person.5

By Mariel Branagan

Exploited adults and children are at a higher risk of suffering from homelessness, poverty, all types of abuse, health problems, malnourishment, addictions, and sexually transmitted infections. On an even broader scale, the CDC says that sex tourism is a threat to community health, human emancipation, and gender equality, and increases the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.3

Each year, well over a billion people travel internationally. While many are looking to escape, explore, work, relax, and volunteer, a shocking number of them are traveling all over the world specifically to engage in sexual activity—this is sex tourism.

Sex tourists are predominately male and often come from industrialized, wealthy countries, including Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The most common scenario is a male traveling to purchase sex from a female, although female sex tourism, or the act of women going to a different country for sex, occurs

While our awareness of issues like sex tourism is growing, so is the crime itself. Researchers are noting that sex tourism and child exploitation in tourism are outpacing all of our collective efforts to stop it. One major factor in the growth of these crimes is an increase in cheap travel, making more remote areas of the world increasingly accessible. The internet has fueled the growth of sex tourism as well. Numerous websites are dedicated to advertising opportunities for commercial sex. International forums discuss the ins and outs of the crime, while many may even offer sex tour packages.7 Without cooperation on the part of legislators, activists, companies, and communities, sex tourism will continue to increase.

Many of the consumers cruising for sex are setting out to visit areas of the world where prostitution is legal. Southeast Asian countries have traditionally been the most popular destinations for sex tourists, but locations in East Asia, Central America, and South America have steadily been on the rise.1 By traveling to another place, some consumers hope to act on their sexual desires without being caught if they purchased sex locally. Sex tourism is directly related to human trafficking because traveling to other countries for sex increases the demand for sex workers. Trafficking victims often fill this demand, increasing the number of men, women, and children caught in the web of trafficking and putting money back into the billion-dollar industry. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.8 million people worldwide trapped in the world of forced sexual exploitation.

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According to ECPAT International*, an organization dedicated to eliminating child exploitation in travel and tourism, an estimated 250,000 tourists travel each year specifically to engage in sexual activity with children.2 Add in those going to engage in sex with women and men, and the numbers of buyers, sex workers, and trafficking victims increase.

*ECPAT International was formerly End Child Prostitution & Trafficking.

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The United States has enacted several laws that deter citizens from traveling to purchase sex. Most of them are centered around protecting children for exploitation. For example, the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act of 2003 increases the penalties for traveling throughout or outside of the United States to engage in illicit sexual conduct. According to the PROTECT Act, it is a federal crime to engage in illegal sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, regardless of whether or not the U.S. citizen intended to do so when they began their travels.8 U.S. federal law also makes it clear

that paying for sex with a child under 18 is a crime that can be prosecuted in the United States, even if it is legal in the country where the crime took place. Buyers are not the only individuals that can be prosecuted by the United States for participating in sex tourism. According to Section 2423(d) of Title 18, U.S. Code, anyone who facilitates travel, knowing that the purpose is to engage in sexual activity with a minor, can be charged with up to 30 years in prison.9

It is essential to have these laws so that people involved in sex tourism can be prosecuted. These laws target the exploitation of children because that crime is easier to define and more universally abhorred. It is much trickier to make such firm stances against sex tourism that doesn’t involve minors because sex work is legal in some countries and illegal in others. The lines blur between those who are engaged in sex work of their own volition and trafficking victims. As we fight human trafficking internationally, we can lessen the situations where trafficking victims are being used to supply the demands of sex tourists. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) has provided several ways the public can help combat sex tourism. First, contact local authorities if you suspect someone is a victim, whether at home or abroad. Second, support the work that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other various agencies do to protect people, including children, from sexual exploitation. In addition to supporting different agencies, supporting businesses that help victims gain safe employment and education is imperative. IAMAT also recommends researching the reputation of a resort or hotel before booking accommodations, as the location may unknowingly or knowingly be supporting or facilitating sex tourism and trafficking.10 The sex tourism industry, which contributes to the crime of human trafficking, can be combatted through education and awareness, prevention and response efforts, training, legislation, and community engagement both at home and abroad.

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1 Magill, A.J. (2017, October 27). Implications of Sexual Tourism. IAMAT: Travel Health Journal. Retrieved from https://www.iamat.org/blog/implications-of-sexual-tourism/ 2 Magill, A.J. (2017, October 27).

Implications of Sexual Tourism. IAMAT: Travel Health Journal. Retrieved from https://www.iamat.org/blog/implications-of-sexual-tourism/

3 Sex Tourism. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Retrieved from https://

4 Andrews, S.K. (2004). U.S. Domestic Prosecution of the American International Sex

Tourist: Efforts to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 94 (2). 415-454. doi: 0091-4169/04/9402-0415

5 ECPAT International. (2016). Offenders on the Move: Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism. Retrieved from https:// protectingchildrenintourism.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Ex-Summary-for-Offenderson-the-Move_ENG.pdf 6 ECPAT International. (2016).

Offenders on the Move: Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism. Retrieved from https:// protectingchildrenintourism.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Ex-Summary-for-Offenderson-the-Move_ENG.pdf

7 Andrews, S.K. (2004). U.S. Domestic Prosecution of the American International Sex Tourist: Efforts to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 94 (2). 415-454. doi: 0091-4169/04/9402-0415 8 U.S. Department of State. Crimes Against Minors Abroad. Retrieved from https://travel.


9 U.S. Department of Justice. (2015).

Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on the Extraterritorial Sexual Exploitation of Children. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/ criminal-ceos/citizens-guide-us-federal-law-extraterritorial-sexual-exploitation-children

10 Magill, A.J. (2017, October 27). Implications of Sexual Tourism. IAMAT: Travel Health Journal. Retrieved from https://www.iamat.org/blog/implications-of-sexual-tourism/

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JUST ASK Looks to the Future in the Student Advisory Council By Steffanie Preston

“The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they—at some distant point in the future—will take over the reins…For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.” — Alvin Toffler The most effective way to protect teens from human trafficking is to help them protect themselves. Parents can deploy every technological aid they can think of—website blockers, passwords, and timed internet use. While these tools can help, teens who are able to stand up for themselves and detect a potentially dangerous situation are more powerfull than any other tool. That’s why it’s so important to spread awareness about teen trafficking to teens themselves. Even more critical is that we engage teens in the conversations we’re having in the anti-trafficking community. Without their participation and input, we are missing out on a priceless resource— teen perspectives and ingenuity. To be more efficient in raising the awareness about teen trafficking, Just Ask has implemented a Student Advisory Council (SAC), which meets regularly to plan and discuss outreach strategies. The group includes students from the Washington, DC metro area, including youth from Oakton HS, Fairfax HS, Falls Church HS, West Springfield HS, Woodson HS, Dominion HS, George Washington

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HS, and West Potomac HS. Of these schools, Oakton, West Springfield, and Potomac have standing teen trafficking awareness clubs that do their own important work in their respective communities. Each of these clubs has representatives that participate in SAC. According to Jodi O’Hern, one of the Student Advisory Council creators, the group has hosted 15–20 student campaigns around the DC metro area to date. During regular meetings, the students share their personal opinions and experiences, which helps to facilitate current information and knowledge about the strategies that local schools and communities are using to combat trafficking. The students gather this information and then use it to raise awareness through social media campaigns and manning informational tables at various events, and they are currently working to create more activities such as Just Ask Trivia events. SAC president Aashna Sawhney explains that the council created an Instagram account to spread awareness and build networks. Their ultimate goal

is to create an interactive platform to engage their audience. In February 2019, Sawhney participated in the Inaugural Youth Cares Conference, an event designed to inform teens and adults in the DC Metro area about teen trafficking, and is excited to be playing a role in the upcoming conference. The second annual conference will be held in the Spring of 2020, at the Springfield Hilton, where high school and university youth, as well as adults who want to attend, will have the opportunity to interact with peers and industry experts to increase their awareness of various human trafficking issues. The conference is formatted into interactive breakout sessions that provide teens with opportunities to share and compare what their schools have implemented to raise awareness about and combat teen trafficking. SAC’s participation in the conference planning is a key part of Just Ask’s goal of empowering local youth to take action against teen trafficking by providing them with actionable ideas to begin and carry out their fight.

Sawhney first joined SAC as a forum to expand her voice in a supportive and encouraging environment. “I think organizations that strive to see the perspectives of youth increase the engagement of younger audiences, and I think Just Ask has done a great job with that,” she says. Fostering an environment that encourages our youth to grow their voices has in turn allowed the community to learn what teen trafficking looks like to teens themselves. It has helped develop more efficient combatting methods and allowed Just Ask to raise awareness in a more relatable fashion. In addition, allowing SAC to help plan the focus of the Youth Cares Conferences and attend them ensures that their perspectives are included in awareness and outreach strategies.

The Student Advisory Council will wrap up the 2020 conference by addressing attendees. They plan on discussing their current strategies such as the new social media campaign and provide a call to action to continue raising awareness and implementing strategies to bring teen trafficking to an end.

Sawhney looks forward to participating in the upcoming Youth Cares Conference and continuing to grow the voices of our youth. SAC and conference directors have decided on a multitude of topics for the upcoming conference, including selfesteem and how it influences the grooming process; internet safety; gangs; sextortion; how to recognize trafficking among peers; and what trafficking looks like for parents and how they should respond to it. Jacquelin Pinella, a coordinator for the 2020 Youth Cares Conference, states that the event’s goal is to increase the number of participants and impact more people in the community—the inaugural conference attracted more than 100 students and parents who were educated by experts on a multitude of teen trafficking topics.

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Human trafficking has a dark history in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Home of the first port in which captured Africans came to North America, our state has historical ties with the act of human exploitation. In modern times, Virginia hosts the cross-section of Interstate 64 and Interstate 95, two major thoroughfares that are used to transport goods across the Eastern seaboard and throughout the nation. Due to this high traffic frequency in the heart of our state, there is an increased number of trafficking victims who either travel through Virginia or are exploited here in this form of modern-day slavery. Within the last decade, state government officials have increasingly recognized human trafficking as a domestic problem and reacted. Despite the fact that it is one of the nation’s higher contributors to human trafficking, Virginia was the last state in the country to pass laws that specifically address the issue. In 2015, with bipartisan and unanimous support, the Commonwealth officially defined sex trafficking and set baseline penal thresholds for sex trafficking and the trafficking of children. Since then, the Commonwealth, in partnership with its criminal justice agencies and the Virginia State Crime Commission, has created a variety of legislation to further dismantle the act of human trafficking as well as programs supporting trafficking victims.

TAKING ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING in the Commonwealth of Virginia

education. This new position will start to fill the gaps in Virginia and provide us with a baseline of programs and standards to use in our future education and advocacy efforts. To pair with the new Sex Trafficking Response Coordinator position, the Commonwealth established its first Virginia Prevention of Sex Trafficking Fund, which will be administered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services to promote sex trafficking awareness and preventive training and education. The fund is supported by collecting fees from people convicted of misdemeanor violations of prostitution, aiding prostitution, and using vehicles to promote prostitution, as well as those convicted of felony violations of abduction with the intent to extort money or for immoral purposes. This fund is a monumental step forward, ensuring that we have a core set of funds to use to reduce the crime of sex trafficking within our state.

During the 2019 General Assembly session held from January to March, legislators heard the call for action in combating sex trafficking in the Commonwealth and passed several provisions. Throughout this legislative cycle, Delegate Paul Krizek of the 44th House District proposed legislation that would allow Virginia to create a Sex Trafficking Response Coordinator role within its Department of Criminal Justice Services. This position has been tasked with creating a statewide plan for local and state agencies to identify and respond to sex trafficking victims, coordinating the development of standard guidelines for the treatment of those victims, overseeing the development of a curriculum to be completed by individuals convicted of prostitution solicitation, and promoting strategies for sex trafficking awareness and

By Karrie Delaney

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Additionally, the state legislature has recognized that service providers and sex trafficking investigators dealing with cases of child sex trafficking face administrative and legal barriers. Delegate Charniele Herring of the 46th House District and Senator Mark Peake of the 22nd Senate District championed legislation that sets a new sex trafficking assessment which puts the immediate safety of the child first. It addresses common barriers to service, so that providers don’t have to rely on others outside of local departments to take charge in the investigation and assessment, and they are not dependent on the locality where the child’s guardians live versus where the complaint was filed. The cross-section of trafficking and children has become one of the cornerstones of Virginia’s action plan to combat sex and human trafficking. Securing more protections for children and ensuring that they have a voice in their cases is critically important. In this year’s legislative cycle, I proudly carried and

passed a bill that combats the issue of sex tourism in the Commonwealth. With the rise of backdoor and dark websites, which contribute to the continuance of human tracking worldwide, the internet has become a domain in which state and national laws struggle to keep up. Until July 1, 2019, when new Virginia laws were put into place, businesses mirroring travel agencies were legally allowed to sell travel services such as transportation, lodging, and tours to engage in the exchange of sex for money, which can contribute to the exploitation of children. This act, known as “sex tourism,” has been outlawed in a number of other states across the country. Despite our nation’s progress, there is still an urgent need to continue passing legislation in all 50 U.S. states to protect people from online exploitation and sex tourism.

This is not the first time I have fought against human trafficking in my professional life. Before serving in the legislature, I was a sexual assault crisis counselor, working at a non-governmental organization that fought against the trafficking of women and girls. One of the biggest hurdles we faced in raising awareness of trafficking was breaking down the perception that it only happens in far-off countries. People were often shocked that modern-day slavery was (and is) happening right here in their backyards and that the average girl being sexually exploited is in her teens. Understanding that trafficking is happening here reveals the many systemic barriers to addressing the problem. I met with several survivors, and many had gone on to lead intervention efforts in the field to help women and girls escape. Hearing their stories reveals how important it is that we create policies to protect the vulnerable and hold accountable those who would buy and sell other human beings. During my time as a counselor, one teenage girl had a story that still stands out. She befriended a young man, who treated her nicely and eventually led her to believe that he was her boyfriend. He was kind to her, bought her presents, and he built her trust over many months before luring her away. She was a child in foster care, so his offer to run away together sounded like an opportunity for a new life with someone whom she believed loved her. Once she was away from home, she was quickly forced into prostitution and taken around the country to be sold at truck stops and strip clubs, along with other girls who this man also controlled. One night, the police found the girl with an adult man who was paying for sex. She was charged with prostitution, while the man who had bought her was told to go home. Over the years, I have heard many stories that were similar to this one, with the most common theme being a lack of justice for children and young women who were trafficked. This reveals the work we must do as state leaders and advocates. As the Commonwealth of Virginia has taken necessary steps forward to address the issue of human trafficking within our state boundaries in the last four years, there are still many more steps that we must take. We need to address the larger issues that contribute to the continuation of human trafficking, including recognizing the status and protections of our immigrant and undocumented

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comminities and finding ways to address the use of electronic exchanges and communications in trafficking. As we continue our fight against trafficking and work to reinstate the dignity and autonomy of those impacted by it, we need to ensure that our legislators, agencies, and service providers are connected with the reality of the field and the barriers they may face. As a former advocate and as a person who remains connected with advocacy networks, I will continue to bring the needed insights to the legislature. As an advocate on the inside, I will continue to stand up against victim-blaming narratives that present themselves when discussing trafficking victims and ensure that they—and their stories—are shared. Though the state has been slow to act, Virginia is on the right path to bring much-needed services, protections, and laws to combat human trafficking within our borders and across the world. Karrie Delaney is a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, representing the 67th district in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.

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EDITORS Nancy Griffin-Bonnaire Sydney Schoenhals EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Maya Beke Aubrey McMahan Natalie Porter Mariel Branagan Steffanie Preston DIRECTOR Bill Woolf DESIGNER Johanna Ghelman