Classroom Activities

  1. What is the difference between smuggling and trafficking? Does the crime of human trafficking require movement across borders?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the neo-abolitionist and human rights frameworks for understanding human trafficking?
  3. What policy responses to human trafficking does the neo-abolitionist perspective tend to produce? What policy responses to human trafficking does the human rights perspective tend to produce?
  4. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed the “Look Beneath the Surface” campaign to help citizens and service providers identify people who might be victims of trafficking (see http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/download-campaign-posters-and-brochures). Assess the verbal and visual communication strategies employed in these posters and brochures.
  5. “The Girl Store” (http://www.the-girl-store.org/) is a controversial anti-trafficking website. Assess the framing strategies employed on this website. What are the advantages and challenges of using ironic rhetorical appeals when tackling the problem of human trafficking?
  6. Have students visit http://slaveryfootprint.org/ and take the survey prior to class. Discuss everyone’s results, reflecting on the ways in which consumer practices in wealthy nations contribute to exploitation and foster human trafficking. Offer strategies for conscious consumerism.

Student Research

  1. Research human trafficking statistics and laws for your state. What is the most common form of trafficking in your state? In what region(s) of the state is trafficking most prevalent? What is the percentage of trafficking victims who are male? Female? Transgender? Lesbian, gay, or queer? What percentage of trafficked people is under the age of 18? Do the laws in your state follow anti-trafficking best practices?
  2. In what ways are immigration policies and human trafficking vulnerabilities connected?
  3. Find three anti-trafficking websites hosted by non-governmental organizations. Assess the ways in which the sites frame the issue of human trafficking. Do they adhere to the neo-abolitionist perspective, the human rights perspective, or a combination of both?
  4. Law enforcement professionals who work with youth victims of sex trafficking in the United States argue that members of this population often don’t see themselves as victims. Why is this?
  5. Law enforcement and anti-trafficking professionals state that prosecuting a perpetrator for the crime of human trafficking can be difficult because trafficking victims are often not seen as “ideal victims.” What is an “ideal victim”? Why are human trafficking cases harder to prosecute when the victim is not “ideal”?
  6. Identify three items from three different parts of your home (e.g., the kitchen, a closet, a bathroom, the living room, etc.). Determine whether or not each item was harvested, created, manufactured, or built with slave or exploited labor. If so, find a comparable fair trade version of each item. What is the price difference? After doing this research, are you more likely to begin buying fair trade items when possible? Why or why not? 

Citizenship Resources

  1. “Prostitute,” “prostituted person,” “sex worker,” and “trafficking victim” are all labels that can be applied to someone involved in commercial sex work. What are the various assumptions connected to each label? In what ways do labels and language choices influence public opinion and public policy?
  2. Some people argue that prostitution is a victimless crime, and that the best way to prevent exploitation is to legalize and regulate the commercial sex industry. Others argue that places with legalized prostitution have higher rates of human trafficking, and that the vast majority of adult commercial sex workers either started as minors and/or have a history of sexual abuse. Research each position and then decide how you would vote on the issue of whether or not prostitution should be legalized.
  3. Sweden and Denmark have taken very different approaches with regard to commercial sex laws and efforts to curb human trafficking. Research each country’s approach. Which would you advocate? Would the approach you advocate be likely to work in the United States? Why or why not? (for more information on the Swedish and Danish approaches, see http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/30/sex-trafficking-countries-take-different-approaches-to-same-problem/).
  4. Who should be charged with rating nations according to their compliance with anti-trafficking best practices and enforcing sanctions: an international body such as the United Nations or a nation such as the United States? What are the advantages and drawbacks of each option?
  5. Although Democrats and Republicans both claim that combating human trafficking is important, anti-trafficking legislation is often held up in Congress for reasons unrelated to human trafficking law and policy. Research two instances since 2005 in which anti-trafficking legislation was stalled in Congress. What happened? How was it resolved? What do the cases you reviewed reveal about democratic processes?

Last updated March 12, 2016