Commercial sexual exploitation of children happens in every community, and is everyone’s problem. Human trafficking permeates our schools, businesses, hospitals, criminal justice system, and foster care system. While national research shows that many trafficked youth come from poverty and/or poor family structures, those characteristics are not universally true.
Many youth are vulnerable to being “seduced” into a relationship with human trafficking at its core; many youth have experienced sexual and other forms of abuse as children; and, it is estimated that one in four youth were trafficked out of foster care.
By learning how to identify the signs of child sex trafficking, the community can help law enforcement, service agencies, schools, and non-governmental organizations respond and prevent it from occurring in the first place. When the community understands the intricacies of this issue, they can play a crucial role in preventing local child sex trafficking before it begins.
An overarching goal is to empower communities to identify and respond to human trafficking by helping them create H.E.A.T. Watch Neighborhood programs throughout the nation. These programs act as protectors of our children who are at-risk. Participants in the programs use their eyes and ears to recognize human trafficking and take action to do something about it, such as calling the authorities who can rescue victims and the police who can arrest perpetrators. No one community or agency can do it alone, but there are various tools that have proven to be effective. With these tools, you can expand your outreach and awareness efforts to establish a cohesive community network.
The H.E.A.T. Watch Toolkit is designed to aid your efforts to combat human trafficking. Each section of the online Toolkit contains guidelines and resources that correspond to the five points of H.E.A.T. Watch. We hope that the following information will inspire and assist you in your fight against child sex trafficking. You will find templates, resources, and guides to support your own development of response to domestic minor sex trafficking under community tools. Additionally, H.E.A.T. Watch offers training and technical assistance to help you combat human trafficking in your community.
H.E.A.T. Watch Response
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