The #CHVCatchUp is a monthly series featuring the latest updates and news from Covenant House Vancouver (“CHV”). Miss604 is proud to be the Official Blog Partner of CHV. This month’s post has been written by Jason Bosher.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking (sex, labour, and organ trafficking) involves recruiting, transporting, harbouring, or receiving a person, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of exploitation. In the case of minors, any commercial sex act is trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion is involved. Exploitation can occur without trafficking.
Myths and uncertainties about trafficking abound — and the trafficking industry thrives on such misconceptions. The hidden nature of this crime has meant that most Canadians are completely unaware that it occurs in our country.
Youth who are experiencing homelessness are at greater risk of being trafficked, which in turn has been found to be a risk factor for future sexual exploitation and trafficking experiences. Trafficking rates have been found to range from 19% – 40% among homeless young people.
Human trafficking begins with traffickers assessing potential victims based on their vulnerability — and then luring them into a friendship or romantic relationship, by giving them false hope for a better life.
The traffickers lure potential victims with gifts and promises of “great opportunities” for “easy work” that would bring money, glamour, and prestige. Of course, these are all false promises — but the victims are desperate enough to believe them.
Coercion, such as threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint against, any person, including family members, as well as psychological manipulation, document confiscation, and threats of exposure, may be used by the trafficker to control youth.
How Covenant House Vancouver Is Helping Trafficked Youth
At Covenant House Vancouver, nearly 1 in 5 youth who come through their doors have survived trafficking.
Covenant House gets out on the streets, seeking survivors and potential victims of trafficking. They also organize to make change, fighting for policies and legislation at the local and national levels.
Statistics show that it takes an average of seven attempts to exit a trafficking situation. Covenant House takes a youth-led, non-judgemental approach. They first meet a youth’s basic needs of a safe place to stay, food, clothing, and wraparound services that include mental health and substance use supports. Covenant House knows that it is difficult for youth to leave their situation, because of the manipulation by, and dependence on, the trafficker, so staff build a rapport and a relationship of trust with the youth, so if the youth are retrafficked, they know that they have a safe place to return to. A safe place to stay is paramount in helping youth exit trafficking.
After 32 months of extensive research and collaborations, Covenant House Vancouver is in the final stages of creating a toolkit, and training model, to support frontline staff and community partners that will empower supports for trafficked youth.
How You Can Help Trafficked Youth
Raising awareness and providing information are the most common tools in the arsenal of prevention activities. Awareness is required not only for the youth but also service providers in schools, law enforcement, social work, and healthcare.
To address homelessness among youth, a continuum of services that ensure low-barrier, affordable housing should be offered. Given that homelessness and poverty run parallel to each other, job opportunities and employment programs would help prevent these youth from falling prey to trafficking. School attendance and engagement can also help to reduce a youth’s risk of experiencing trafficking, as schools reduce a youth’s isolation.
Another way that you can help is by donating to organizations that are engaged in efforts to eliminate youth trafficking. A very special family understands the prevalence of trafficking and that this issue continues to put young people in danger, every day, so starting March 8th, they have offered to match any donations to Covenant House, up to $15,000!
Help end youth trafficking.