Polaris Project Uses Texting Technology To Help Human Trafficking Victims

Polaris Project has established an alternative way for people to access the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline (1-888-373-7888) for immediate crisis aid as well as non-crisis help for referrals, safety planning, and emotional support.

“Many trafficking victims cannot just pick up the phone and call for help, because of extreme isolation or constant monitoring by their traffickers,” said Bradley Myles, Executive Director of Polaris Project. “The ability to send a silent text message could mean the difference between escape and continued exploitation. We are grateful for the support that we have received from Thorn, Twilio, and salesforce.com to increase our reach through SMS technology to more vulnerable people who need our help.”

Human trafficking victims can now contact the NHTRC 24-hour hotline by texting “HELP” or “INFO” to the number 233733 (BeFree) and connect with a call specialist who will respond accordingly to the situation by alerting local service providers or other resources.

The hotline has been successful in gathering and analyzing data about the location of victims and traffickers through these messages, and Polaris has used this information to detect and predict human trafficking trends.

“Polaris recently started receiving seemingly unrelated calls and texts throughout the country about illegal labor trafficking and abusive work conditions in carnivals. ‘It was something that wasn’t really on our radar as much before,’ Myles said. After searching its database, Polaris’s staff identified common recruitment sites and recruiters worldwide who were drawing immigrants into the United States to work at these carnivals. Polaris is developing interventions targeting workers and recruiters in Central America and Africa, where the workers often come from.”

Sources:

http://www.polarisproject.org/media-center/news-and-press/press-releases/757-texting-increases-human-trafficking-victims-access-to-help

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-it/how-text-messages-help-the-polaris-project-zero-in-on-human-trafficking/2013/12/06/035ce5e8-5ea2-11e3-bc56-c6ca94801fac_story.html

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