For the sixth consecutive year, the Learning by Giving Foundation granted $10,000 to an organization chosen by UW-Green Bay’s 2018 Strategic Philanthropy class.
Throughout the course, students identified several community problems, researched the nature of those problems and considered possible solutions. This year, the class identified human trafficking as the problem they wished to address. After careful consideration of several proposals, they chose to fund a program that seems most promising in addressing the local human trafficking problem.
Human trafficking encompasses both labor trafficking and sex trafficking, of which the latter is most common. It occurs worldwide and in all 50 states in the U.S., including both rural and urban areas of Wisconsin. As a form of modern slavery, victims are forced into trafficking through fraud or coercion. They often suffer substantial abuse while enslaved.
Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 1,523 total trafficking calls and has identified 362 total cases. According to their records, there were 91 reported cases of trafficking in Wisconsin last year, of which 72 involved sex trafficking. Of these 91 victims, 79 were women.
Human trafficking is increasing in Wisconsin due to an identified highway trafficking route between the cities of Green Bay, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago. As a result of growing awareness about this problem, several municipalities have begun taking action to address trafficking in their communities.
The City of Milwaukee, for example, conducted research into the city’s trafficking problem from 2013 through 2016. According to their recently-issued report, 97 percent of Milwaukee’s reported victims were women, 81 percent were victims of sex trafficking, 65 percent were African American, and 55 percent were under the age of 18. They also discovered that 86 percent of these victims have an incident history involving the Milwaukee Police department, such as sexual assaults, battery/domestic violence, child abuse, or drug crimes. The report also noted that 59 percent of these victims had previously been reported missing.
Research for the Milwaukee report provided valuable information about the nature of human trafficking, not only in Wisconsin, but across the nation. The report recommends that similar studies be conducted in both urban and rural communities across the state to gain a better understanding of the problem and to identify any differences across communities.
Other recommendations focused on youth, since a majority of trafficking victims are under the age of 18. First, the report recommended to increase in-person interaction between child welfare caseworkers and their clients. More frequent in-person meetings can help protect these vulnerable youths who are at high risk for sex trafficking victimization. Another recommendation is to implement prevention programming in schools to educate youth on the warning signs of human trafficking and assist them in practicing healthy relationships.
There is no doubt that human trafficking is a major problem in Wisconsin, and across the country. However, by working together to do something about it, perhaps one day human trafficking can be eradicated.
The 2018 Strategic Philanthropy class invites readers to support the class and its grant recipient by attending the Grant Award Event on April 30th, from 4:00-5:00 pm in Phoenix Room C, University Union building at UW- Green Bay campus.
(National Human Trafficking Hotline) https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/wisconsin
Editorial assistance by Laskowski’s classmates