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What is Outreach

Outreach” has become a catch-all term for many anti-human trafficking organizations. The term has come to refer to variety of different activities and has different meanings for different groups, from the distribution of awareness materials, to individual conversations with potential victims. Within this toolkit, we differentiate between two forms of outreach: community outreach and direct outreach.

In the midst of abundant best practices regarding community outreach, fewer resources share promising practices for performing direct outreach, particularly for reaching foreign national victims and labor trafficking victims. This toolkit provides strategies for performing direct outreach in labor and sex trafficking venues in which foreign nationals are particularly vulnerable.

Community Outreach

Community outreach is grounded in the reality that as more people become aware of human trafficking, more victims will be identified. In this context, outreach primarily takes the form of training and increasing public awareness. Community outreach is a form of indirect outreach which seeks to equip community members to identify victims themselves, thus its impact relies on the community to understand and apply the information they have received.

Training involves educating key community members, such as law enforcement, healthcare professionals, lawyers, educators, and others, who may come into contact with potential victims. Training should include a basic overview of human trafficking, the federal and state laws regarding human trafficking, indicators and identifiers, and resources within the community (agencies that serve victims of human trafficking and the national and local hotlines).

Public awareness activities can include poster distribution, public service announcements, social media, billboards, and other such initiatives, to raise awareness about human trafficking and refer the public to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Distributing awareness materials creates opportunities to talk to different audiences about how the issue can uniquely manifest itself in their communities.

Direct Outreach

Direct outreach seeks to reach victims directly. Successful direct outreach efforts recognize:

  • Victims often do not self-identify
  • Victims may not be familiar with human trafficking
  • Victims may not be aware of the services available to them
  • Victims may be under constraints that prevent them from leaving their trafficking situation

Direct outreach takes place where victims may be found, such as within restaurants, private homes, on farms at migrant camps, within the court system, in adult and juvenile jails, on the streets, at hotels/motels and other such settings.

Direct outreach should be performed by outreach staff and trained volunteers, as it is necessary to be familiar with the indicators and red flags of human trafficking, as well as know how to proactively and immediately respond to a victim if identified. The challenges associated with direct outreach include building rapport with victims in a short amount of time and during atypical hours. Though direct outreach does not lead to the removal of that individual from that situation at the moment of interaction, it does inform that individual that help is available.