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A national month of focus provides opportunity for radio to address an important issue.

January has been declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The announcement is aimed at fostering a larger dialogue about the subject. The White House has called upon “industry associations, law enforcement, private businesses, faith-based and other organizations of civil society, schools, families, and all Americans to recognize our vital roles in ending all forms of modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities aimed at ending and preventing all forms of human trafficking.”

Community radio has a relevant place in education here. How might your community radio station cover the scope of human trafficking in your community? How can your listeners identify the signs of human trafficking in their neighborhoods? Several ideas are out there for community radio to explore. They include:

  1. Polaris, one of the globe’s most respected organizations on the subject, offers data and fact sheets on the different kinds of human trafficking, including sex trafficking (prostitution), labor trafficking (forced labor) and more. You might consider comparing how your state fits into issues like reporting and services for trafficking survivors.
  2. Are there nonprofits in your city, county or somewhere nearby that provide assistance to human trafficking survivors? How are local churches involved in this work? Does your state or region have a task force focused on the subject? A bit of searching may reveal underreported activism in your town.
  3. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center offers tools to help listeners to spot and report potential incidents of human trafficking and for survivors to get help. The center also offers online safety guidance; according to the latest statistics, recruiting young people on social media and for selling sex has grown in popularity.
  4. Groups like Demand Abolition say addressing demand for trafficking is critical to fighting slavery and the human trade. Organizers contend this largely calls for a cultural discussion with male buyers of sex as well as increased prosecution, since the sex trade is seen as largely feeding human trafficking channels. Many states are taking a more aggressive stance to arrests. Your coverage could examine what is happening in your state among nonprofits, law enforcement, faith communities and other stakeholders, and why.
  5. Many of us have heard media use of terms like ‘child prostitute’ but organizations such as Rights4Girls suggest underage girls are often coerced into prostitution and are trafficked by adults, ensuring the aforementioned phrase obscures a more complex matter. How do your local authorities handle cases of children trafficked by adults?
  6. World Without Exploitation, a coalition of advocacy organizations, is calling for Congressional actions on human trafficking. Your area lawmakers may have appraisals of the status of local, state and federal legislation on these issues.

Human trafficking is a topic most Americans don’t often consider, but it has major implications. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 runaways are likely sex trafficking victims. The U.S. State Department places the number of people being trafficked in America at around 30 million. A declaration for the month of January may give your community radio station a window to shine a light on this matter.


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