Two trends to be aware of as the issue of human trafficking remains a concern in Northeast Wisconsin.
By Shelby Mitchell
Human Trafficking Advocate
Sexual Assault Center of Family Services
(Green Bay, Wis) – As we begin a new year, it is a perfect time to reflect on the past year and on the things that are going well. Family Services continues to provide the programs and services that our communities need while knowing how important it is that we be able to adapt our services as these needs change. The issue of human trafficking, for example, is driving the Sexual Assault Center of Family Services to find new ways to care for local survivors of sex trafficking and/or sexual exploitation.
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and so it is a great time for us to talk about this vast topic and the trends that we are seeing nationally as well as in Northeast Wisconsin.
We wouldn’t be able to address this topic without touching on a few other forms of violence that help to fuel it. One of the biggest issues is the ever-increasing advance of technology. From our phones to laptops and the apps we use, technology is growing at a faster rate than parents (or the law-making process) can keep up with. These lightning-speed advances give an upper hand to those who lean on technology to recruit and exploit others for their own financial gain.
Games that tend to attract children and teens are offering more ways to connect and engage will fellow gamers than ever before. These features, while great for connecting with friends, also open the door to predators giving them opportunity to form relationships with potential victims. These relationships, which often seem harmless as first, can set the stage for future exploitation or abuse. Viral challenges and the ease of posting threats on social media sites like TikTok are another cause for concern.
For more information on these specific technology trends and more, please check out this article from Protect Young Eyes and follow them for up-to-date issues related to online technology and tips on how to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of online exploitation.
Pornography & Violence
While online recruitment on social media and apps have been gradually increasing over the last number of years, another issue has been around for many, many decades…pornography. Locally, the advocates at the Sexual Assault Center have been seeing a direct link to the viewing consumption of pornography and the link to sexual violence cases. Speaking very generally, the viewing of pornography can lead to an addiction. The more images and videos that someone watches, the more they become desensitized to it. This then leads to viewing pornography that is usually much more violent. After a while, that will no long satisfy the person viewing the pornography and we then see those people becoming “hands-on” offenders who felt the need to act out some of the scenes that they viewed in order to gain arousal.
In an article that was released by Fight the New Drug, they sight the findings of a study stating that “[Porn] consumption was indeed associated with sexual aggression in the United States and internationally, among males and females, and in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Associations were stronger for verbal than physical sexual aggression, although both were significant. The general pattern of results suggested that violent content may be an exacerbating factor.” The full article can be found at: https://fightthenewdrug.org/new-study-shows-that-watching-porn-is-linked-to-real-life-sexual-aggression/
At the Sexual Assault Center, we are working to educate the community and schools about sexual violence in all forms. We developed presentations on sexual abuse in youth/adults, internet safety, social media safety and most recently one on sexting (sending nude or partially nude photos via text) for students and parents. With these presentations being requested in schools across Brown, Door, Oconto and Marinette counties, we are also seeing the need for age appropriate education on the use of pornography as well.
How You Can Help
You can help prevent human trafficking by sharing factual information about sexual violence and information on where survivors can seek help. Donate to the Sexual Assault Center of Family Services to help us continue this critical education for parents, students and community members. Volunteer your time and talents. Follow @sacfsnew on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on the trends we are seeing, events you can attend and posts you can share to help amplify our message.
For more information, to donate or to complete a volunteer application, please visit https://www.familyservicesnew.org/get-involved#donate. Donations can be directed to the Sexual Assault Center or the area of greatest need.
With your help, we can continue to Protect, Heal and Care for the communities we serve!