SOCIAL ISSUES

NJ organization works to save young girls from being trafficked

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past in the United States, human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars yearly in profits through the sexual exploitation or forced labor of victims.

The organization Preventing Child Abuse New Jersey partnered with Boston nonprofit My Life, My Choice to train adults on how to prevent sex trafficking and young women from entering that world.

The 10 session curriculum was created in 2003 by a survivor of exploitation and focuses on prevention. An evaluation assesses the effectiveness of the training.

The study evaluated 354 at risk youth across Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida over three years. Participants were surveyed at the start of the prevention group, at the end and then six months after. Of the total youth evaluated, 96 percent were female, 28 percent were black and 40 percent lived in a residential facility. The evaluation found that commercial sexual exploitation decreased by 55 percent immediately after participants completed the curriculum and by 40 percent 6 months after.

While there are consequences for traffickers, some experts believe the law needs to be strengthened for buyers to reduce demand.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle has been an advocate for victims of human trafficking and recently sponsored legislation to thwart human trafficking at massage and bodywork businesses. She says part of the problem is that the description of pimps has changed. The legislation she co-sponsored to raise public awareness is currently sitting on the governor’s desk.

The 2-day training costs $700 a person and will be held on Aug. 13 and 14 at the Preventing Child Abuse New Jersey’s office in New Brunswick.