Commercial sexual exploitation is ultimately the exploitation of vulnerability. When we work together to improve the system and outcomes for vulnerable youth, they have a stronger support network and are less vulnerable to exploitation.
Powerful anti-trafficking work can look like:
- Mentoring or volunteering for any organization which supports at-risk youth and youth leadership and resiliency-building, such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN), and Maine Youth Initiatives Network;
- Donating time or resources to organizations currently serving at-risk and exploited youth in Maine, such as youth shelters, sexual and domestic violence organizations, and mental health and substance abuse providers;
- Ensuring that your financial contributions support Maine-based organizations which are currently serving victims of exploitation;
- If you’re a provider, supporting policies and protocols within your organization and your community that enhance the multidisciplinary response to trafficking and exploitation;
- Supporting public policies which increase accountability for perpetrators (such as increased penalties for those who buy sex – ‘johns’ – and those who sell sex - ‘pimps’) instead of placing the burden on victims and survivors; and
- Knowing the signs of exploitation, and talking with your neighbors, your colleagues, and your community about the culture change that needs to take place in order to end the demand for sex-for-hire, and therefore stem the tide of exploitation.
Real prevention of exploitation happens when we decrease risk factors for youth (child sexual abuse, violence and abuse in the home, homelessness), increase the protective factors (positive adult relationships, peer support, stable housing and systems), and address the demand for sex work.