NORTH HAVEN — About 50 law students, prosecutors, medical professionals, educators, foster care workers and law enforcement officials attended a training seminar on human trafficking Friday at Quinnipiac University’s School of Law.
“It really takes folks on a journey from understanding what human trafficking is, we talk about federal and state legislation, we talk about the numbers, the data, what makes kids vulnerable to trafficking,” said Tammy Sneed, director of DCF’s Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team. “...you have to take them on a journey to understand who these victims are.”
Human trafficking is defined by the federal government as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for either a commercial sex act or labor/services through the use of force, fraud or coercion. According to Sneed, Connecticut sees about 200 human trafficking cases per year.
“These are kids who are being lured in through a boyfriend scenario or a modeling agency and they’re not even aware that this is what’s going to happen to them next,” Sneed said.
Sneed worked alongside students and faculty involved with the Human Trafficking Prevention Project at the law school. It gives students the chance to train employees in the hospitality industry and other “frontline” industries in trafficking awareness skills.
“Last year, DCF came to talk to us for Human Trafficking Awareness Week and there was a statistic that said over 60 percent of kids who are victims of human trafficking are living at home with their parents at the time of their victimization,” said Cynthia Lill, an executive board member of the Human Trafficking Prevention Project. “So that got me thinking ‘If they’re at home, their parents aren’t realizing this. If they’re at school, their teachers aren’t realizing this.’ ”
Lill said that it was at that point that she had a “vision” for the Human Trafficking Prevention Project, going out and teaching parents, educators and others how to prevent trafficking.
According to Sheila Hayre, visiting associate professor of law, the Human Trafficking Prevention Project was completely student led.
“This has been such an exciting project to work on because of the incredible interest from young people,” Hayre said. “And unlike the older generation, I think they realize the ways in which the internet is used and is ever present in the lives of younger people and how that can make them very vulnerable to these types of exploitation.”