January is Human Trafficking Prevention MonthJanuary is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Globally, and right here in Connecticut, a time to increase awareness about the significant risks our children face on a daily basis.
The definition of sex trafficking has changed over the years. Sex trafficking is defined as when a person exchanges anything of value with a minor or third person as compensation for a minor having engaged in sexual conduct with another person. Or, when a person exchanges or agrees to exchange anything of value with a minor or a third person pursuant to an understanding that in return, the minor will engage in sexual conduct with that person. The definition also includes when a person solicits or requests to engage in sexual conduct with a minor, or any other person that they reasonably believe to be a minor, in return for anything of value.
Trafficking of children occurs in each of our communities and the families all around us. It does not discriminate according to gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Literally all children are subject to victimization. In Connecticut, children are targeted right in their own homes by way of the internet, social media, online platforms, and a variety of apps. While online tools have enhanced learning and communication with loved ones, they have also served as an entry for traffickers. Here, children are groomed, manipulated into sharing their personal information, encouraged to share explicit images or even to arrange an in-person meeting outside the safety of their own homes. The Department received 241 reports of trafficking in 2021:
Children of color remain the most at-risk:
Living placement at the time of identification shows that 161 out of the total of 241 youth are actually living at home when they are subjected to trafficking:
This month, the Department put forth several trainings to educate professionals and members of the public about the signs of trafficking:
- My Life My Choice Curricula Facilitator Training - A prevention education program where DCF will train service providers, case workers, schoolteachers, etc. willing to provide prevention education to girls ages 12 and older. DCF is funding the training with a request that those certified provide 2-groups per year.
- Introduction into Human Trafficking for EMS Providers - DCF staff will conduct training with Emergency Medical Services staff on the signs of sex trafficking and will develop a train the trainer model for EMS staff who then wish to train others.
Connecticut has been a leader across the country in the manner in which we have collaborated with Federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies to support victims and hold traffickers accountable.
We must remain diligent in our efforts!
Below are several resources. Events, trainings, and educational opportunities continue to be added this month. If you would like to receive information from the Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team (HART) distribution list, please email DCFHART@ct.gov.
Many resources are available for parents. They are also relevant for educators, and some are even being implemented in our schools
- Shared Hope Internet Safety Series: Shared Hope International
- App Guide for Parents (English)
- App Guide for Parents (Español)
- Internet Safety Materials for Families: Internet Safety Concepts
- DMST Parents Sex Trafficking Brochure
Children have told us they wished they had training on human trafficking before they became victims. Resources for child victims:
- Office for Victims of Crime: Child Victims and Witnesses Support Materials
- Youth Awareness of Human Trafficking presentations are held quarterly, with the next one occurring on February 23rd please see information here: Youth Awareness Info Session
The department has knowledgeable and passionate HART Leads and Liaisons in every region and office to support possible cases of child trafficking (See link below). Please also feel free to contact Tammy Sneed at any time for assistance via e-mail at Tammy.Sneed@ct.gov.
- Available Training: HT Training Descriptions, email DCFHART@ct.gov to request a training
- DCF Human Anti-trafficking Response Team (HART) Page
- Leads and Liaisons