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Alarming Trends Revealed in Statewide Sex Trafficking Study

February 4, 2020, 10:33 AM HST
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A survey of over 300 individuals statewide revealed that one in five of them was sex trafficked before they were 18.

On Tuesday, Child and Family Service (CFS) released a report based on a study of the status of sex trafficking in Hawaii. The survey focused on sex trafficking experiences of 363 people on Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi Island, and Molokai.

Statistics from CFS report.

CFS is engaging with agencies throughout Hawaii to address sex trafficking in the most vulnerable populations and to respond to this issue immediately. CFS and partner agencies are working to provide much-needed support to survivors and to take steps forward.

“Our social workers and staff tirelessly invest their energy in providing trauma survivors with hope for healing,” said Karen Tan, president and chief executive officer of Child and Family Service. “We have the tools and resources to identify victims of sex trafficking, but we have to implement them properly and with compassion. CFS and many other community organizations are actively working together to react to this issue, respond to survivors and provide them with the help they need to heal, and engage the community to solve this problem in Hawaiʻi. ”

Statistics from CFS report

Sex trafficking is defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as “when a commercial sex act is inducted by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”

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The six-page survey was administered over the course of three months to 363 individuals seeking help by trained social workers or support staff of Child and Family Service, the oldest and largest Hawaiʻi–born, family-centered nonprofit in the state. Survey results were submitted to the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research (STIR) at Arizona State University for analysis.

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The goal of the STIR office is to be a central source of research on domestic sex trafficking, which will inform the decisions made by those who contact victims and perpetrators of sex trafficking including law enforcement and prosecutors, educators, medical services and social services. The survey asked questions about the participant’s experiences including abuse, substance use, family connections and dysfunctions, homelessness, health and mental health issues, and their sex and labor exploitation experiences.

Key findings of the survey include:

    • Of those identified as sex trafficking survivors, 23% reported that they were children when they were first sex trafficked. Further, 25% reported that their first sex trafficker was a family member (parent, guardian, sibling, grandfather, or uncle).
    • Age at first sex trafficking experience ranged from four to 55-years old. The average age of first sex trafficking victimization is 21.4 years old.
    • 23% of the sex trafficking survivors were first sex trafficked before they turned 18-years old.
    • 64% of the sex trafficking survivors identified as being all or some Native Hawaiian; 11.3% said they were Native Hawaiian and 52.6% reported being part Native Hawaiian.
    • If they were first sex trafficked as a child, their average age was 11.3 years old. The most common sex trafficker identified by the survivors who were under the age of 18 when they were first trafficked was a family member.
    • A family member was identified as the sex trafficker by 25.8% of the participants.
    • More than two-thirds of the sex trafficked participants reported having been homeless.
  • Click here to read the report.

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“The data confirms what our community providers have instinctively known – this is a very real problem,” stated Tan. “We are engaging with all the necessary agencies and organizations to collectively address this problem. This study identifies the volume of sex trafficking in our most vulnerable populations and demonstrates the need to respond to this issue immediately and provide much-needed support to survivors. It also identifies a huge gap in our ability as a community to identify and prevent sex trafficking crimes. As a state, we can do more to protect our residents, and we are taking steps forward with our partner agencies and the Honolulu Police Department to do everything we can.”

If you are a victim of or suspect any sex trafficking activity, call 911 immediately. To report child trafficking, call the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services Child Trafficking (Child Welfare Services) Hotline at 808-832-1999 (O‘ahu) or 1-888-398-1188 (Neighbor Islands)

What do you do if you’re worried about someone at risk? Call for help. You can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888, or the Honolulu Police Department.

If you believe you may have information about a trafficking situation, you can submit a tip online through the anonymous online reporting form here. However, please note that if the situation is urgent or occurred within the last 24 hours, we would encourage you to call, text, or chat. The information you provide will be reviewed by the National Hotline. All reports are confidential and you may remain anonymous. Interpreters are available via phone call only.

Other Hotlines:

  • Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tip Line: 866-347-2423 (24/7)
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888) 373-7888. Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. You can also text the National Human Trafficking
  • Hotline at 233733 or chat with someone at the National Human Trafficking Hotline via www.humantraffickinghotline.org/chat
  • Report missing children or child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited
  • Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678) or through their Cybertipline.

 

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