Student Association Human Trafficking Awareness Event

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the students of the Master of Social Work Student Association (MSWSA) at the OU Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work in Tulsa jumped into action with an event on Saturday, January 24. There have been a number of events this month aimed at increasing citizen awareness of the trafficking of human in Oklahoma and the U.S. as well as ongoing efforts by service providers, nonprofits, law enforcement, and faith-based groups.

For our event, we wanted to be very strategic and chose to focus our efforts on the hospitality industry here in Tulsa. Hotels, motels, and other hospitality businesses are on the front lines of this issue and may be unaware of or unequipped respond to sex trafficking and exploitation occurring in their establishments. In partnership with Unlock Freedom, the Tulsa Sheriff’s Department, and students from ORU, TU, and NSU, MSWSA students Kate Quinton and Celeste Prose organized the event aimed at providing key information to local hospitality businesses including: red flags that there may be victimization occurring, key contacts and resources to report suspected trafficking, and samples of items that can be placed in hotel rooms that offer help for victims.

Volunteers gathered at OU-Tulsa for a brief training, were deployed in groups to visit assigned hotels with key information, and then gathered back together for a shared meal and debrief about the day. We had a total of 41 volunteers who made face-to-face contact with 72 hotels and motels in the Tulsa area. Staff and management at the many establishments we reached were overwhelmingly receptive and interested in doing their part to end human trafficking in our community.

Establishments were chosen at random, as all businesses in the industry need this crucial information, and were asked to consider the following:
1) Creating a no tolerance policy for labor and sex trafficking.
2) Providing necessary resources and training to their staff so can recognize trafficking and access help.
3) Providing resources to their guests so that bystanders and victims are able to reach out for help when needed.

We want to extend a very special thank you to Sprout’s Market and Schlotzky’s Deli for donating food for our awesome volunteers!

For more information about human trafficking, please check out local organizations like Unlock Freedom as well as national resource centers including:
National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 888-3737-888
Not For Sale
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 
Girls Education and Mentoring (GEMS.org) 
Polaris Project 
Shared Hope International

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