ABOVE: Minal Patel Davis and Heather Fischer
The City of Houston and Thomson Reuters, a global content and technology company, recently announced a partnership to launch a new global online resource center to combat human trafficking. Thomson Reuters will take stewardship of the City of Houston’s world-class anti-trafficking toolkits and make them readily accessible online to cities and other public authorities.
Through these step-by-step guides, municipal authorities can quickly mobilize anti-trafficking campaigns which may otherwise take years of planning, as well as saving them money and other public resources. The City of Houston’s anti-trafficking resources have already been leveraged by 18 cities and 11 nations.
Under the leadership of Mayor Sylvester Turner, the Mayor’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence documented their approach to creating anti-trafficking campaigns. Through these insights they developed a suite of tools and resources for local, national, and international organizations and agencies to launch anti-trafficking responses that can be readily contextualized to any community. This helps to create a network of cities running anti-trafficking campaigns, driving a year-round response to help meet the challenges that trafficking poses.
“Over the last eight years, our efforts have focused on ensuring that the locally accomplished mitigating work was shared nationally and globally through immersion programs that welcomed U.S. municipalities and foreign governments to Houston, as well as international forums where we were invited to showcase our model,” said Mayor Turner. “Because of these strategic actions, we successfully replicated aspects of this model in 18 U.S. cities and 11 nations. I am confident that the impactful work and anti-trafficking legacy will continue.”
An increase in the numbers of individuals at risk, stretched public resources and more sophisticated criminal networks have contributed to a rise in human trafficking, which has a tragic impact on communities across the U.S. and internationally.
In 2022 there were an estimated 19,000 reports of child sex trafficking in the U.S made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Public awareness campaigns play a critical role in tackling human trafficking and the City of Houston’s campaigns are recognized as models of best practice.
“We are proud to continue the legacy of Mayor Turner where, under his leadership, the City of Houston became a model for mobilizing municipalities to counter human trafficking,” said Heather C. Fischer, Senior Advisor for Human Rights Crimes at Thomson Reuters. “We are committed to continuing to expand the eco-system of information, technology and subject matter expertise we offer to support efforts to identify human trafficking networks, facilitate prosecution, and help victims and survivors.”
The new Thomson Reuters global online human trafficking resource center will house the toolkits online, with a commitment to keeping the materials up to date and making additional resources available. There are a total of nine toolkits, and the first available on the resource center are:
Large scale public events toolkit: Large scale sporting events are typical heat moments for trafficking due to the influx of visitors and temporary workers. The topics of the tools range from how to vet volunteers, to how to engage sectors including restaurants and transport companies to help spot victims.
Watch for Traffick Media Campaign toolkit: Public awareness and education is key in helping to spot trafficking. The tools include guidance on how authorities can raise awareness about human trafficking through ready-made advertising for television, radio, billboards, bus, and taxis.
Anti-luring Social Media Awareness campaign toolkit: This toolkit has 24 plug-and-play social media posts targeted to youth ages 13-22 and caregivers ages 35-55.
Upcoming toolkits include how to manage trafficking risks during emergency disasters and tackling trafficking in illicit massage businesses. The toolkits will be available online at: https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en/institute/human-trafficking-toolkits.html.