World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, observed July 30, aims to raise awareness of this serious global problem. This year’s theme, “Use and Abuse of Technology,” focuses on the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking.
In 2022, the HHSC Texas Human Trafficking Resource Center (HTRC) implemented a new legislative directive related to resources for human trafficking victims and the establishment of a trafficked persons grant program.
“Human trafficking recruitment strategies have evolved as quickly as the technology supporting them,” said Ivy Pritchard, HTRC program specialist. “In this day and age we spend the majority of our time online and on digital platforms, unfortunately creating the ease of accessibility for traffickers to exploit anyone online.
“However, the accessibility for online education, training and awareness campaigns is also at our fingertips. Our agency is dedicated to keeping pace with the changes and trends in technology to combat trafficking at every turn.”
HTRC created a community contest for people to submit human trafficking specialty license plate designs. The winning design was submitted by Mary B. Carr, a licensed professional counselor who works with human trafficking survivors in Houston.
The license plate serves as a reminder to report human trafficking online at iwatchtx.org. Texans can use the website to report suspicious activity or behaviors that may indicate criminal, terroristic or school safety-related threats.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will have the specialty license plate available for purchase this fall, and a portion of each sale will go towards the trafficked persons grant program.
The trafficked persons grant program provides treatment services, shelter and support for youth survivors of human trafficking. To learn more, visit the Stop Human Trafficking donation webpage.
Prevention is critical to the mission of HTRC, which works with stakeholders across the state to prevent child sex trafficking, exploitation and abuse through community outreach, preventative educational programs and awareness campaigns.
Much of prevention education includes awareness around grooming techniques and exploitation through social media platforms. Teaching kids online safety is a prevention measure that can empower children to use the internet as a tool rather than becoming a victim.
HTRC also focuses on putting resources in the hands of health care providers and other professionals through trainings made available on the HTRC webpage.
In November 2021, HTRC released a human trafficking training called HEART (Hearing, Evaluating, Activating, Resourcing and Training). HEART teaches health care practitioners how to identify and respond appropriately to potential human trafficking victims in health care settings using victim-centered practices and trauma-informed care principles. This course is free and open to the public.
HTRC encourages everyone to educate themselves about how to combat human trafficking and support trafficking victims on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.