WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Attorney General Karl A. Racine marked Human Trafficking Awareness Month with a training session for students at KIPP DC AIM Academy to educate youth about the dangers and warning signs of trafficking.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and a serious crime where traffickers may use force, fraud, or coercion to make victims engage in labor or commercial sexual exploitation>Any minors who is exploited, even in the absence of force, is by definition a victim of human trafficking. Every year, millions of people are trafficked around the world, including our own neighborhoods in the District of Columbia.
“Last fall, our office launched a Human Trafficking Initiative to better identify and support youth vulnerable to human trafficking,” Attorney General Racine said. “Too many young people involved in the District’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems are especially vulnerable to this horrible crime, and we recognize that they are not lawbreakers, but victims who need services.”
In addition to actively seeking alternatives to prosecuting youths who have been subjected to human trafficking, OAG is also increasing educational efforts on the issue. OAG staff members are reaching out to community organizations and youth in the District to prevent involvement in, and encourage reporting of, human trafficking. OAG efforts to combat human trafficking include:
OAG Human Trafficking Task Force: Attorney General Racine created an internal task force consisting of attorneys in the agency’s Public Safety and Family Services Divisions; the task force is focused on bolstering the agency’s efforts to fight trafficking. Attorneys in these divisions are being trained on how to spot youths who may be sex-trafficked in the delinquency, truancy, and abuse and neglect systems. Additionally, our legal work will be coordinated so that each youth we identify as a trafficking victim will be referred for appropriate services and supports.
Prevention Trainings for Youth: i-SAFE is a non-profit organization that combats trafficking through a curriculum used in more than 3,400 school districts across the country. OAG has partnered with i-SAFE so that our office can use this curriculum to educate youth in the community about warning signs of human trafficking and train community leaders to conduct trainings and educate youth as well.
Public Awareness Posters: OAG hosted and led a focus group with trafficking victims and survivors from FAIR Girls, a local nonprofit service provider. Staff learned the warning signs present when a youth is involved in or at risk of human trafficking and is using this information to create educational posters targeting youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Community Meetings: OAG is partnering with the Metropolitan Police Department, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, Business Improvement Districts and other community organizations across the District to educate residents and businesspeople on the prevalence of human trafficking in our neighborhoods, trafficking warning signs, and how community members can take action.
Attorney General Racine noted that OAG’s focus on fighting human trafficking is a long-term effort that will last well past January. “Protecting public safety requires us to use new, data-driven, sustainable solutions rather than simply relying on traditional prosecution—and that includes working year-round to protect our residents from the horror of human trafficking,” he said.
To get help if you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking:
- Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888;
- Text “Help” to 233733 (BeFree); or
- Call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 202-671- SAFE (7233).