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Faces of Human Trafficking Video 6: Focus on Youth

This video highlights the specific vulnerabilities, risk factors, and needs of youth, with a focus on the diverse range of professionals who are in a position to identify exploited youth and connect them with appropriate services.

Faces of Human Trafficking: Focus on Youth TRANSCRIPT

Suamhirs, Survivor Advocate Human trafficking is a crime that takes away souls, that take away memories. My trafficker was someone who knew my family. I was given specific instructions: "You’re going to do what I ask you to do. If you not, your mom and your three brothers in Honduras are going to die." So I allowed one crime to happen so another crime wouldn’t. A neighbor reported that so many people were coming in and out of the house. Then, that’s how I was rescued. Most people didn’t understand what was I going through.

Jordan Greenbaum, M.D., Medical Director, Atlanta Children’s Advocacy Center Boys are traditionally under-recognized and underserved. They don’t have specific residential treatment homes where they can go. They may go to shelters, but they don’t have the same services that girls do. And I think, across the country, more and more, there’s an awareness that this absolutely has to be addressed.

Niko, Survivor Advocate I was kicked out of my parents’ home because of my sexual orientation, and, in a lot of ways, it really conditioned me for being very vulnerable.

Sharon Cooper, M.D., CEO, Developmental & Forensic Pediatrics It took a long time for us to understand that actually these were exploited youth—typically, very vulnerable youth who have been in foster care, or homeless or runaway youth. And once we began to understand how easily they could be groomed and recruited by offenders, we then began to recognize that these were children who were being exploited.

Katherine Kaufka Walts, Director, Center for the Human Rights of Children, Loyola University Chicago Children who have been trafficked—both for actually sex and labor trafficking—are more vulnerable for a variety of reasons. Obviously their age, their developmental capacity. They’re more easily manipulated, and traffickers know that.

Linda, Survivor Advocate I was born in Ecuador. When I was 16, my step-sisters told my dad that it would be a good idea if I will come here. They say, "She could help with one baby while I work, and then she will go to school in the afternoon." I never end up going to school. I was home 24 hours with the baby, and then, little by little, she started telling me to cook, to clean. I wasn’t getting paid. I was monitored, everything that I did. I felt trapped without, like, no exit. They made me feel that they were doing something great by giving me food and giving me a place to live, and the way that I had to pay them back is doing everything for them.

Katherine Kaufka Walts There are professionals that are already working in the field with trafficking victims—child welfare agencies, child protection workers, juvenile justice professionals, including attorneys, judges, guardian ad litems, court-appointed special attorneys, case managers, social workers or foster care systems, school counselors. Some victims of trafficking are going to school. In fact, their traffickers pick them up at the end of the day.

Melinda Giovengo, Executive Director, YouthCare, Seattle, Washington Any young person is vulnerable, and one of the biggest predictive variables is a young person who has been sexually abused.

Chris Newlin, Executive Director, National Children’s Advocacy Center Child sexual abuse, human trafficking—most people, you know, think of them as separate, and I think there’s much more overlap.

Woman Before we talk about the reason that you’re here today, I want to tell you a couple of things.

Chris Newlin We need to have a well-coordinated response that cares for the well-being of the child. At Child Advocacy Centers, we always are looking at the possibility that other things may have occurred. The specific purpose of the forensic interview is to gather as much factual information—from the child’s perspective—and it’s part of a broader multidisciplinary team related to the investigation. Children who were in our treatment program last year, on average, had 8.5 different victimizations. Not until we really find out what the child has experienced can we truly provide them help.

Heather Stockdale, Executive Director, Georgia Cares There are many challenges in serving this population. People don’t understand the complex nature of this victimization.

Niko To describe the relationship between the trafficker and a victim is a domestic violence situation. There’s this connection to the abuser.

Jordan Greenbaum, M.D. In many cases, children will return to the trafficker, and they’re not ready to get out of the life at that point, and it may be months before they are—years even. But if we can establish some trust with the child, maybe that’ll make them open up next time and bring them a little bit closer to making the decision to leave.

Heather Stockdale The types of services that these victims need, of course, are trauma-informed, are comprehensive. They need time in therapy to understand their victimization.

Chris Newlin Making sure we connect them with a safe place to live but also a quality of inter-treatment therapy is absolutely critical for their viability in the long term.

Katherine Kaufka Walts One of the challenges for them is integrating back into a school system and accessing, often, specialized services to make sure that their needs are being addressed, particularly with large gaps in schooling. For foreign national children, there are clearly language barriers, so they would need English as Second Language classes in addition to mainstream education. There may be guardianship issues, so these children are navigating many different systems and different legal processes.

Melinda Giovengo Finding ways that young people can engage with communities where they can learn new skills is important. And re-engaging them with their communities of origin. Native American, the African-American and faith-based community is just tremendous in terms of helping us support our young people moving forward.

Suamhirs, Survivor Advocate Once I found the power of my story, I decided to become an advocate. I have shared my story as a way for people to be inspired to make change, as a way for people to become advocates, just like my CASA for me. Marcos, my court-appointed special advocate—he came into my life 2 days before my 18th birthday.

Marco Mares, Court Appointed Special Advocate His spirit just wasn’t there. You could see it in his eyes. And my first instinct was to try to cheer this kid up.

Suamhirs He spoke Spanish. He really came into my life and really helped me. If it wasn’t for his help and support, I wouldn’t be the advocate I am today.

Heather Stockdale We don’t have evidence-based practices for the field of trafficking yet, but we need to borrow from other fields that have seen success. And it’s working with those providers to understand what some of those unique and specialized needs of a trafficked youth might be within their existing successful system.

Melinda Giovengo And we have to remember that it is the individual child’s journey.

Marco Mares Suamhirs is a success, and having gone through everything he went through and him being the person he is now, I’m just glad that he’s able to help others.

Date Created: May 4, 2020