To inspire and empower everyone to do their part.
Every semester, UnBound Waco goes into local middle schools to teach girls about human trafficking. Over the course of 10 weeks, our volunteer facilitators cover topics like sex trafficking, value and worth, safe social media usage, healthy relationships and vulnerabilities. This fall we had 11 volunteers leading 7 groups in 3 different middle schools around Waco for a total of 56 sessions.
We surveyed the students at the beginning of the course to find that:
- 43% – had never heard of sex trafficking, or were not sure what it was.
- 82% – didn’t know or strongly disagreed that kids in their school or neighborhood were at-risk for sex trafficking.
- 35% – believed that if things are hard at home, running away is a good option.
During the course of the group, girls began to learn about what human trafficking was and even identified that some of their friends were at risk for trafficking
When the leaders were teaching the students about safe social media usage, the seventh grade girls spoke about how men they did not know contact them “all the time” on Instagram. One girl told the following story. “Well I had been dating this guy I met on Instagram for like 3 months. We talked a lot, and one day he called me. His voice sounded really deep. I asked him ‘how old are you,’ and he said 34.” When the group was teaching about vulnerabilities one of the leaders spoke to the girls about the dangers of running away. One girl from the group said, “I just ran away from home. When I was gone I was walking down a street and a man started following me. He was chasing me, and I ran and ran to get away. I was so scared. So this stuff is real. Don’t run away from home guys it’s not safe.”
This post was written and published by KCEN-TV. See the original post on the KCEN-TV website.
A woman messaged our Facebook page earlier this week with a question about our recent “Selling Girls” stories, which focused on exposing the scope of child sex trafficking in the United States and how to prevent more young children from becoming victims.
She asked if we could compile some information parents could use about how to talk to their children about the issue. So, we reached out to UnBound Waco, an organization working to curb human trafficking in Central Texas and offering support to victims who escaped the billion-dollar-a-year industry in the United States.
Below is some of the advice UnBound Waco offered.
1. Talk to your children about social media
Last year, we covered a story about a Houston father who said his teenage daughter was lured into the sex trade by an older man on the social media app Snapchat. The trafficker used the app to slowly groom her beginning at age 16, eventually getting her to agree to meet him at a party, where she disappeared.
Advice: Take every opportunity to chat with your children about the danger of talking to strangers on social media and ask them to disable location sharing capabilities on their social media accounts and photos. Predators are patient, and they will pose as your children’s friends — using any bit of information they can glean from public social media accounts to groom them by pretending to share similar interests and being in the same places at the right times. (more…)
2016 has been an exciting year for UnBound, around the world! We want to share with you some of the highlights from this past year and what we’re looking forward to in 2017. Behind every number and accomplishment lies what really matters — real lives, real communities and real progress in the fight against human trafficking.
“In 2016, we saw great relationships develop between community members, churches, organizations and law enforcement in our city, as we worked together to combat the issue of human trafficking in Fort Worth. In 2017, we would like to see this trend continue, as we believe that community awareness and community members working together are the greatest ways to battle human trafficking in our city. We’re starting January off with a big Not In My City event sponsored by the Fort Worth Police Department in partnership with the Tarrant County 5-Stones Taskforce and Christ Chapel (a large church in town). We are hoping that this event will be a catalyst for what is to come this year in terms of community collaboration and prevention efforts.”
– Lisa Nottoli, UnBound Fort Worth (more…)
We’re so excited to introduce UnBound HQ’s newest staff member, Jessica Foran! Jessica will be working as our Director of Survivor Advocacy.
Left to right: Jessica Foran (Director of Survivor Advocacy), Susan Peters (Executive Director) Natalie Garnett (Assistant National Director), Brian Claus (Operations Manager)
Her new role will be three part:
- Provide support, advocacy and case management for human trafficking victims through UnBound Waco.
- Provide strategic support and training to other UnBound chapters as they develop policies and responses to working with trafficking victims.
- Serve as the case director for the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition, providing intake and eligibility assessments, tracking cases to make sure each individual is served and referring clients to coalition services.
Jessica graduated from Baylor Law School and practiced law in Waco for a few years before joining the FBI and working as a special agent in Alabama, then as a supervisory special agent in Washington, D.C. We are so honored and thankful to have her on our team here!
The Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition was launched in January 2015 in an effort to coordinate efforts to combat human trafficking in the six-county region surrounding Waco, Texas. UnBound Waco had been working in Waco for a few years to educate the community and build relationships with service providers and law enforcement, but founder Susan Peters and other community partners decided something bigger needed to happen.
Over the past two years, we’ve held meetings for representatives from more than 45 area agencies, coming together to learn, connect and move the fight forward. The coalition was growing and doing well, but, as in most things, could benefit from significant funding to fill some of the gaps of collaboration, training and service. When we found out about a $1.5 million Department of Justice grant for the development of human trafficking task forces, we decided to apply. With relatively little data for what we knew to be a significant trafficking issue, we weren’t sure if we could demonstrate the need to the federal government to fund this effort in a relatively small geographic region. However, after six months of waiting, we received the news that the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition was funded for $1.5 million! (more…)
When you last heard from us, we had just launched UnBound Europe: an initiative to engage the crisis by providing critically needed services to refugees through human trafficking prevention and awareness. Strategically located in 5 cities throughout the refugee trail, we were able to spend the summer interacting with refugees and local community members, training short term teams, distributing awareness posters and “Signs To Look For” cards, as well as meeting with business owners, aid workers, and even government officials. (more…)
In the past year, four million Syrian refugees have left their jobs and houses, risked their lives and crossed borders, seeking the safety and freedom they have no chance of at home. Hundreds of thousands more from the Middle East and Africa have also sought refuge in neighboring countries. This movement has left millions of people without resources, disconnected from community and communication, desperate and vulnerable. This crisis has put millions at risk of human trafficking.
Although it’s a really complex question that no one can yet fully grasp, we wanted to help explain a few elements of the crisis and what part human trafficking plays in the Refugee Crisis. Here are 5 things you should know: (more…)
Last year, the European Migrant and Refugee Crisis finally got the world’s attention and broke into our hearts. In the past year, more than four million Syrian refugees have left their jobs and houses, risked their lives and crossed borders, seeking the safety and freedom they have no hope for at home. Hundreds of thousands more from the Middle East and Africa have also sought refuge in neighboring countries. This movement has left millions of people without resources, disconnected from community and communication, desperate and vulnerable. They often end up in countries where they don’t understand the law, live in fear of deportation, are without paperwork, or don’t know how to legally provide for their families. When the high demand for human trafficking in Europe meets this influx of highly vulnerable refugee populations, there’s a high probability of refugees being exploited and/or trafficked on the refugee trail. (more…)
By Susan Peters, Executive Director
In the early 2000s, I went on trips to Thailand, Uganda and India. I saw young girls trapped in sex trafficking and met young men forced to be child soldiers. That’s when God first broke my heart for modern day slavery, human trafficking, around the world. That’s when I first experienced the compassion of Jesus for this area and felt called to action.
At UnBound, we regularly receive phone calls to help victims of human trafficking in our community. Sometimes the calls are from mothers whose teenage daughters have been trafficked, sometimes they come from police officers who picked up someone they think is a victim, or from schools who recognized the signs of trafficking in their classroom. One time that really marked me was a call from a hospital. (more…)