No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers

No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers: An Overview

In September we released No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, an impact report about the results of ECPAT-USA’s work to prevent and disrupt the commercial sexual exploitation of children in hotels. Since the release we’ve authored a series of blogs providing information to people in different sectors about how they can combat child sex trafficking.

 

The series includes:

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Is There Really No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers? This blog explains why the No Vacancy report is necessary and provides an introduction to the report. As this blog says, No Vacancy for Sex Traffickers reveals how many hotels in the United States train their associates to recognize and respond to child sex trafficking, where sex trafficking training is coming from, and more.

How You Can Fight Child Sex Trafficking on Your Next Trip This blog speaks to travelers, and provides practical steps you can take to join the fight against child sex trafficking. From traveling responsibly to asking your favorite hotel to join the Code, travelers can help keep children safe.

How Hotels Can Fight Trafficking This blog speaks to people working in the hotel industry. This blog outlines steps all hotels must take to protect children, such as adopting policies and related to the sexual exploitation of children, having resources available to properties, and mandating that associates working in all hotel properties—whether they are franchised or owned—have training.

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What Governments Can Do to Combat Child Sex Trafficking This blog discusses what steps governments must take to protect the children in their communities. These steps include passing laws that require hotels to train their associates on child sexual exploitation, with consultation and resources from groups already working on the issue, and passing transparency legislation that includes child sexual exploitation language.

How the Meetings and Events Industry Can Help Stop Child Sex Trafficking This blog is for people working in the meetings and events industry. It offers information about how meetings and events professionals can persuade both travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, etc.) and corporate travel managers to implement policies and programs to protect children.

You can also learn more by reading the full report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers.

 

No Vacancy: How the Meetings and Events Industry Can Help Stop Child Sex Trafficking

Child sex trafficking is a crime that happens across the United States, often in hotel rooms. Something that you might consider is that other businesses, parallel to the hospitality industry, can help protect children—the meeting and events industry is one of them because the meetings industry works with hotels and with companies that book hotels for their employees.

In September, ECPAT-USA released a report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, which shows the extent and impact of our training efforts in hotels. Now we are sharing a series of blogs that will teach you about the issue, highlight stakeholders who can help fight child sex trafficking, and give you ideas from the report for how to get involved. This blog provides information for meeting planning professionals about how they can take action on this issue. The information extends to corporate travel managers (in-house professionals who manage travel for private companies) and travel management companies (entire companies that focus on booking travel for clients).

Meeting planning professionals are uniquely situated between hotels and companies that book travel for their employees. Both of these groups can play a role in ending child sex trafficking, and meetings professionals have the power to persuade them to do so.

 

What the Meetings Industry Can Do

Professionals in the meetings industry can help persuade both travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, etc.) and corporate travel managers to implement policies and programs to protect children. Hotels must have policies in place that state a zero-tolerance of sex trafficking and train their associates. Travel managers must book hotels that have these standards in place.

Let’s face it, money talks. Meeting planning professionals are in an ideal position to discuss child-protection policies with travel suppliers, such as hotels, because sheer size of contracts with hotels. Over time, the long standing relationships with suppliers also means that they trust you. As meeting professionals you can use this influence to share information about training.

At the panel that launched No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, survivor and advocate Katrina Owens pointed out that numbers matter when it comes to getting companies and those in power to act on child sex trafficking. The more people that speak out against a harmful practice or advocate for a positive practice, the more likely results are. The meetings industry has great power to effect change on child sex trafficking because, while meetings companies often only have a few employees, you represent many clients, and therefore can send a powerful message to the hospitality industry.

Meeting planning professionals are also well positioned to speak to corporate travel executives about this issue because corporate travel executives look to you to provide information about travel industry trends and risk areas.

One concrete way meeting planning professionals must combat child sex trafficking is by integrating requirements about anti-trafficking policies and training into your RFPs.

By making these requirements part of standard practice, meetings professionals send the message that child sex trafficking is unacceptable and travel companies can act to combat it.  Language in RFPs can educate hotels who may not know about the issue, and persuade those who may be reluctant to institute policies and training to protect children. You can also educate corporate travel managers by discussing the issue when working on RFPs for their travel, and explaining why it is important to include child-safe language in RFPs and contracts with suppliers.

Our partner, Nix Conference & Meeting Management, includes questions about trafficking policies in all of their RFPs. They ask three questions of all potential clients: “Does your property have a policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children or child sex trafficking? Are you aware of the ECPAT-USA Code of Conduct? If no, would you be willing to receive additional information from ECPAT-USA regarding The Code of Conduct?” These questions start a conversation about trafficking and what properties can do to protect children.

In addition to integrating language about anti-trafficking training into RFPs, meeting planning professionals can also choose to work with hotels that already have training in place. By prioritizing these hotels, and making this policy known to the hotel industry, meeting planning professionals can send a message that training associates about human trafficking is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.

4 Ways to Fight Trafficking this Fall

This fall, join us in the fight to end child trafficking. 

We're sharing 4 ways you can help in the coming days, weeks, and season. Together, we can protect every child's basic human right to grow up free.

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1. Join Us for the Freedom Awards

You're invited! Celebrate leaders in the fight to end child trafficking while supporting our vital work to ensure no child is bought or sold. This November 9, we're honoring the CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation, Monique Villa, and New York City Police Commissioner, James P. O'Neill.

 
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2. Fight Trafficking on Your Next Trip

Follow our "No Vacancy" blog series to learn how you can fight trafficking when you travel. Read the latest here.

 
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3. Spread the Word on #AnyKidAnySchool

School age children in the U.S. are at risk for trafficking. View our latest PSA and get involved in your community. Learn more.

 
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4. Join ECPAT-USA for a Film Screening

Join ECPAT-USA this evening at the Brooklyn Public Library for a free screening of "In Our Backyard." Register here.

No Vacancy: What Governments Can Do to Combat Child Sex Trafficking

Child sex trafficking is a problem in every region of the United States. Governments—from as big as the U.S. Government to your own city council—have a duty to protect the children in their communities.

One area where governments can combat child sex trafficking is in the tourism industry.

Last week, ECPAT-USA released a report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, which shows the extent and impact of our training efforts. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of blogs that will teach you about the issue, highlight stakeholders who can help fight child sex trafficking, and give you ideas from the report for how to get involved. The blog you are reading will give tips for elected officials to get involved..

With the use of online classified ads, child sex trafficking is both on the streets and behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Pimps rent rooms in hotels, then go online to create advertisements in adult sexual services pages, and finally sell victims in hotels or have victims meet purchasers at nearby hotels.

Hotel rooms are a preferred venue for the sale of children because traffickers believe they are anonymous at hotels, giving them a sense that there is little risk in their behavior. They also believe that hotels are risk-free because they believe training on indicators of child sex trafficking is not widespread.

There are a number of common sense laws that governments can pass to combat child sex trafficking in the tourism industry. From requiring training in all hotels to passing transparency legislation, legislators can play a unique role in ending this scourge.

While many hotels are already training their associates to combat child sex trafficking– No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers shows that half of all hotels in the United States have had training– governments must ensure there are no training gaps criminals can exploit.

 

What Governments Can Do

One thing governments must do is pass laws that require hotels to train their associates on child sexual exploitation, with consultation and resources from groups already working on the issue.

Many hotels are proactively training their associates. However, those who exploit children seek out venues where they feel anonymous and will go unnoticed or unreported to the authorities, so it is important that there are no gaps in training. Think about it this way, if one hotel trains and a trafficker leaves a property, the trafficker may go right to the hotel next door to exploit their victims.

Governments must pass laws requiring all hotels to train their associates to recognize and appropriately respond to suspected instances of child sexual exploitation. That being said, laws must consider the work already being done by nonprofits, hotel trade associations, and the hotel industry to address this issue. They must include existing, well crafted resources in the training requirements rather than duplicating existing efforts. Keep in mind, we’ve been working with hotels since 2004 so good resources already exist! We just need hotels to access the resources.

One good example of a law like this is the law Connecticut passed in 2016. Public Act No. 16-17 passed by the Connecticut General Assembly mandates training for all hotel and lodging staff and also requires hotels to keep records of their guests. This Connecticut law was created through collaboration between state agencies, the public sector, and other stakeholders. The implementation of the law also involved a public-private partnership that brought together a number of experts in the area including Marriott International, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, and others.

Another thing governments must do is pass transparency legislation that explicitly includes child sexual exploitation language.  Governments outside the United States, most notably in the UK with the Modern Slavery Act, have passed transparency legislation that requires companies to report on their efforts to combat human trafficking, including child labor. The United States introduced similar legislation called the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act. This legislation, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015, would require certain businesses to report annually on steps they had taken to address modern slavery and trafficking.

ECPAT-USA works to ensure legislation actually mentions reporting on child sex trafficking, which is often overlooked. Additionally, transparency legislation cannot stop at targeting companies that provide goods (products) but must also require certain companies that provide services, such as hotels, to report.

Transparency laws not only encourage brands to take steps to fight trafficking, they also provide opportunities for sharing information about best practices and collaboration, and give all stakeholders information about where to focus future efforts. A study of the effects of the UK Modern Slavery Act after one year found that the law encouraged internal dialogue about modern slavery issues at companies, including at the director level, and led to a greater focus on policy development, risk assessment, and monitoring of human trafficking.

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While collaboration between multiple sectors is key to eradicating child sex trafficking, governments have a unique ability to mandate steps that will address the problem. If governments act, with input from private sector and nonprofit organizations with expertise in this area, we can ensure no child is bought or sold.

To read the full list of recommendations governments must take to combat child sex trafficking, read the full report we released last week. And don’t forget to stay tuned for the rest of our blog series! Next week, we’ll be focusing on how the meetings industry can get involved.

No Vacancy: How Hotels Can Fight Trafficking

From policies to training that matters—hotels can make a difference.

Child sex trafficking is a crime that happens across the United States, often in hotel rooms. While the hospitality industry is not responsible for trafficking, it does have an important role to play in helping to stop it.  

ECPAT-USA recently released a report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, which shows the extent and impact of our training efforts. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of blogs that will teach you about the issue, highlight stakeholders who can help fight child sex trafficking, and give you ideas from the report for how to get involved. If you work in the hospitality industry, this blog is for you! If not, please share it with your friends and family who can have a direct impact.

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With the use of online classified ads, child sex trafficking is not only on the streets, but also behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Pimps rent rooms in hotels, then go online to create an ad in adult sexual services pages, and finally sell victims right out of the hotel or have victims meet purchasers at nearby hotels.  

Hotel rooms are a preferred venue for the sale of children because traffickers believe they are anonymous at hotels, giving them a sense that there is little risk in their behavior. They also believe that hotels are risk-free because they believe training on indicators of child sex trafficking is not widespread.

Hotels can help stop child sex trafficking by training their associates. Hotel associates are more likely to witness trafficking than the average person. Training teaches people working in hotels how to identify instances of child sex trafficking and how to safely and effectively address any instances they may see.

Many hotels are implementing training. No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, shows that half of all hotels in the United States have had training for their associates.

Still, there is more work to be done. While 40% of hotel properties in the United States have access to ECPAT training, not all training is reaching associates on the ground level.

 

What Hotels Can Do

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Adopt policies and procedures related to the sexual exploitation of children and have resources available to properties. Hospitality brands must develop policies that state a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation of children and develop procedures to respond to suspected instances of such exploitation.

Official policies send a message to associates that putting an end to the commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking is important to the company. Companies must also provide their employees with a protocol (procedure) for responding to any suspicions of exploitation.

One example of a great policy against the sexual exploitation of children is the Hyatt Hotels Corporation Human Rights Statement. In addition to stating a clear repudiation and zero tolerance policy of child sex trafficking, the Hyatt statement also references human rights standards and states their open door policy to encourage associates to report any incidents.

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics is another excellent example of a hotel brand policy. Their policy clearly states what associates should do if they suspect an instance of child sex trafficking:  “All employees must be vigilant and immediately report to managers, supervisors, the Legal department or the Business Conduct and Ethics Hotline, as appropriate, all situations that come to their attention in the Company’s premises or businesses where sexual exploitation of children is suspected or appears to be intended.”

Whatever a company’s reporting protocol is, it should be clearly stated and easy to find in their anti-trafficking policy.

Hotel brands interested in creating a policy and procedures related to the sexual exploitation of children can contact ECPAT-USA.

Hotels must also mandate that all associates working in all hotel properties, whether they are franchised OR owned, have training.

Hotel brands that offer training for their employees have taken an important step to combat child sexual exploitation, but what does that training do if it is not being used? This issue must become part of on-the-job training.

Employees who are well-trained on the issue will comfortably execute their company’s protocol for responding to the issue. This prevents employees from frantically reacting to situations, which could lead a violent response from an exploiter.

While the data in the report does show that ECPAT-USA training has far reach, the study also found that training does not always reach the front-line of hotels. Some hotel properties whose parent companies have policies and commitments to protect children are not training on the issue. This is an ongoing challenge with hotels that do not mandate but only suggest training to properties in their portfolio.

A staggering 52% of hotel properties in the U.S. are franchised, rather than owned and operated by hotel brands themselves, which means the brand is more hands-off. But for this issue, things need to be different! Training must be required at franchised properties.

To date, a number of brands have moved towards requiring instead of suggesting training to properties and other brands must follow. Marriott mandates human trafficking training for all associates in all of their properties, including franchisees. Similarly, as a brand standard, Hyatt International mandates that all hotels take human trafficking training but does not specify which training franchised hotels participate in.

In addition to being the right thing to do, taking these steps can protect hotels from legal, financial, or image problems should an instance of child sex trafficking occur at one of their properties.

To learn all of the steps hotels must take, or for more information, visit ecpatusa.org/novacancy.

No Vacancy: How You Can Fight Child Sex Trafficking On Your Next Trip

In recent years buying fair trade coffee and clothing has become mainstream but something we at ECPAT-USA have noticed is that we never hear our friends say they are traveling responsibly. The concept of responsible travel is similar to that of purchasing fair trade goods— you choose to spend your money ethically and with respect for human rights.

Choosing a hotel is an opportunity to use your purchasing power for good—to help stop child sex trafficking.

Last week, ECPAT-USA released a report, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, which shows the extent and impact of our training efforts. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of blogs that will teach you about the issue, highlight stakeholders who can help fight child sex trafficking, and give you ideas from the report for how to get involved. Later this week we will be highlighting hotels, and the steps they can take to combat this scourge. In this  we’ll give you tips for how to be a more responsible traveler!

While child sex trafficking may seem like a crime that happens in far away places, it happens more than you think throughout the United States.

With the use of online classified ads, child sex trafficking is not only on the streets, but also behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Pimps rent rooms in hotels, then go online to create an ad in adult sexual services pages, and finally sell victims right out of the hotel or have victims meet purchasers at nearby hotels.  

While the hospitality industry is not responsible for trafficking, it does have an important role to play in helping to stop it.

Hotel rooms are a preferred venue for the sale of children because traffickers believe they are anonymous at hotels, giving them a sense that there is little risk in their behavior. For this reason, hotel associates are more likely to witness trafficking than the average person. In response, we ask hotels to train their associates on the indicators of trafficking and how to respond to it.

Many hotels are doing just that. The report we released last week, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, shows that half of all hotels in the United States have had training for their associates. It also lists which hotels in the U.S. have signed ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, a set of guidelines travel companies, including hotels, agree to take to combat child sex trafficking; one of those steps is providing training.

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One hotel brand leading the way on training is Marriott. Marriott requires associates at all the properties in their portfolio to take human rights training that covers trafficking, which is a step beyond some hotels that just recommend training.

Accor Hotels, another ECPAT-USA partner, has taken an innovative approach on this issue by tying bonuses for their managers to training. Accor managers must have held anti-trafficking training at their properties to get their bonuses. Numerous other hotels are implementing their own initiatives.

On your next trip, stay at one of these hotels.

By choosing to stay at a hotel that has employees trained to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children, you can feel good knowing that you’re supporting businesses taking a stand, and real steps, against child sex trafficking.

Or, if your favorite hotel has not signed The Code, use this letter to ask them to sign.

Every child has a right to grow up free from sexual exploitation and trafficking, and you can help by spending your travel dollars at a hotel working on this issue.

To learn more about traveling responsibly, read our full report and visit our responsible traveler page.

Is There Really No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers?

Is There Really No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers?

Why it’s important to study how many hotels have anti-trafficking training

By Michelle Guelbart, MSW, and Julia Wejchert

 

When ECPAT-USA started working with hotels to combat child sex trafficking 13 years ago, very few people understood the urgency of our work. We knew that victims are often isolated from their friends, family, and community members, and we also knew that the hospitality industry is one of few industries in a unique position to recognize and identify victims. Unfortunately, our outreach to hotels was often met with shock and denial. We heard hotel after hotel respond that this may be happening but “not in my hotel.”

As we made progress with the general public through awareness campaigns and outreach, we also worked with hotel brands to implement policies and training to begin alerting hospitality associates of their unique role in stopping human trafficking. Slowly things began to change and we reached a turning point. Corporate policies against human trafficking and child exploitation are touted as industry standard. Training (even mandated) is now recognized as best practice. Many hotels train their associates to recognize the indicators of child sex trafficking and respond appropriately. But until now, no one knew exactly how many hotels had training.

The report we released today, No Vacancy for Child Sex Traffickers, provides exactly that information. It is the first of its kind, providing data from hotel properties across the United States about their training. Specifically, it shows that half of all hotels in the United States have had training for their associates. It also reports that over 80% of hotel associates who had training had increased awareness of child sex trafficking, and over 90% of managers with training who said they had increased knowledge in the past 3 years said the increase was a result of their training.

Another question this report answers is “where is anti-trafficking training coming from?” The results show that at least 35% of hotels with training were using programming  developed by ECPAT-USA. 

Additionally, most training, whether it was developed by ECPAT-USA or someone else, was distributed by hotel brands. This means that individual hotel properties usually use training they get from their parent companies like Hilton, Hyatt, or Wyndham. Therefore, when a hotel brand decides to take on an issue, it can be life changing and far reaching. And in the case of human trafficking awareness training, it can be life saving.

This training is so important because hotel rooms are used by pimps for child sex trafficking. An issue that was previously confined to the streets has now, with the use of online classified ads, also moved to the Internet and behind the closed doors of hotels rooms. Pimps rent rooms in hotels, then go online to create advertisements in adult sexual services pages, and finally sell victims in hotels or have victims meet purchasers at nearby hotels.

While the hospitality industry is not responsible for the exploitation, it does have an important role to play in helping to stop it. By training their associates to recognize indicators and providing a clear, safe response procedure hotel staff can follow if they do see something suspicious, hotels can help to protect children from exploitation.

While the report shows exciting progress in this area, there is still work to be done.

That half of U.S. hotels report using training is a significant achievement, but the other half of hotels still need to be reached. Additionally, the findings in our report suggest that some properties who have access to trainings through ECPAT-USA partnerships are not taking full advantage of training opportunities. While many are utilizing ECPAT-USA training, we must continue to work to ensure that all hotel associates have access to such important programming. 

In the next few weeks we will be publishing a series of blog posts about what travelers, the hotel industry, and governments can do to continue the fight against child sex trafficking. Together we can ensure that no child is bought or sold.