President Biden proclaimed January as “National Human Trafficking Prevention Month,” reaffirming his administration’s commitment to protect and empower survivors of all forms of human trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and bring an end to human trafficking in the United States and around the world.
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, includes forced labor and sex trafficking. It involves using force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Traffickers might use one or a combination of the following methods to lure victims into trafficking situations.
- False promises of well-paying jobs
- Romantic relationships
There are estimated to be more than 24.9 million people — adults and children — subjected to human trafficking around the world, including in the United States. Traffickers often take advantage of the instability caused by natural disasters, conflict, or a pandemic to exploit others. Human trafficking disproportionately impacts racial and ethnic minorities, women, and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, vulnerable migrants, and other historically marginalized and underserved communities.
Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, resulting in human trafficking is a hidden crime. Traffickers look for people who are easy targets for a variety of reasons, including:
- Psychological or emotional vulnerability
- Economic hardship
- Lack of a social safety net
- Natural disasters
- Political instability
The best opportunity to prevent, respond to, and eliminate re-victimization of trafficking lies in providing training and employment opportunities to youth and young adults.
To address the issue of human trafficking in the Houston-Galveston region, The following organizations have created the Texas Employment and Empowerment Model for Disenfranchised Youth and Young Adults project:
· The Office of Governor Greg Abbott
· The Texas Workforce Investment Council
· The Child Sex Trafficking Team, and
· Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast
The project is to provide youth and young adults with job search training, opportunities to obtain a high school diploma, acquire post-secondary credentials, and employment opportunities to gain marketable skills that will support their entry into the workforce.
Many community partners have partnered to assist in the success of this project. These community partners conduct assessments specific to individual needs. Then a referral is sent to a Workforce Solutions Training and Employment Navigator will work closely with referrals and provide the resources and assistance needed to help them enter the workforce and have a successful and rewarding career.
But it doesn’t stop there, you can help play a role in ending human trafficking by learning key indicators of the crime, raising awareness of human trafficking within your community, reporting suspected trafficking incidents, and providing viable employment opportunities for victims of trafficking.
In an emergency, call 911
Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 -888-3737-888 to:
GET HELP and connect with a service provider in your area
REPORT A TIP with information on potential human trafficking activity
• National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 and
If you are in doubt, contact:
The National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888 or www.humantraffickinghotline.org
Thelisa Lavergne is a member of the Regional (Texas Gulf Coast) Navigator team for Workforce Solutions. She specializes in providing training and education to the Gulf Coast community, career staff offices, and employers in assisting individuals with disabilities. She brings with her over 10 years of experience and expertise working in the nonprofit industry serving Houston’s disadvantaged community; individuals and families experiencing homelessness, victims of domestic abuse, and individuals and families experiencing hunger. However, her greatest contribution to Workforce Solutions is her compassion, commitment, and dedication to serving others. She holds a M.A. in Organizational Management, a B.S. in Training and Development, B.S. in Counseling, and a Certification as a Personal Fitness Trainer.
Wendy Borrego is a Training and Employment Navigator at Workforce Solutions. Her job is to assist individuals who have been victims of Human Trafficking by providing them with the resources they need to obtain financial stability. One of her greatest passions is helping individuals heal from traumatic or stressful situations by providing them with the tools they need to find a healthy and positive perception of themselves. She understands that every individual is different, and she must adhere to their specific needs and situations to provide the best assistance possible. Wendy’s goal is to collaborate with Employers and to create a partnership with them where together they can help survivors of human trafficking build the skills and resources, they need to achieve financial security and long-term safety