ECPAT-USA Co-Sponsors Special Performance Of OSCAR At The Crown

A few weeks ago, ECPAT-USA co-sponsored our sister trafficking organization, Saving Jane’s big, end-of-summer cultural bash for under-served youth in NYC. After months of working with producers, cast and crew, we helped to present a special free performance of the interactive, acclaimed musical OSCAR at The Crown for homeless kids, survivors of human trafficking, LGBTQ youth, immigrant youth, young people in recovery, and other under-served populations of young people in NYC.  The immersive musical includes singing, dancing, and moving stage platforms – all happening inches from the crowd. Over 25 youth organizations, bringing over 100 at-risk young people attended the show! 

OSCAR at The Crown is a musical about a gang of cultural outcasts who have holed up at the Crown, an off-the-grid nightclub, in order to escape a dystopia that targets anyone who is "different." To entertain themselves, they put on pageants about the rise and fall of Oscar Wilde, a gay man put on trial for indecency. Staged in a functioning dance club, the 3 Dollar Bill, there is non-stop music, movement and light shows, creating a thrilling musical party experience from start to finish. The play takes on many twists and turns, revealing a very important message that resonated deeply with many of the youths in attendance.  No matter how marginalized you are by your culture, no matter how dark your circumstances are, no matter the pain you’ve had to endure, there is always hope for a life of authenticity, flourishing and joy – and it all starts with that first, scary step toward finding that new light. This is an especially important message for survivors of trafficking. 

Among people who were sexually abused during childhood, many often engage in abusive relationships as adults. They might repeatedly find themselves in adult relationships where they are victimized, physically, emotionally, and/or sexually. Some may even become abusive themselves.  Children are often coerced by an adult they have trusted. This can lead victims to distrust therapists, social workers, and other support systems who try to aid after their recovery. 

Feelings of fear, irritability, abandonment, and mistrust can arise. It is crucial to end the cycle of abuse. We should always advocate fully and holistically for youth, both before potential harm and after abuse has occurred to guide young people toward finding their happiness and realizing that they are worthy of genuine love and trust, free from pain.

Many youths left the show with heartfelt tears of joy in their eyes, explaining how beautiful the messages were about welcoming happiness in the face of adversity. The performance was followed by a pizza party. During the pizza party, Saving Jane's Thomas Estler moderated a Q & A that culminated in a radiant rapport between the cast and the young audience, and everyone left the experience with a heightened sense of community and hope. The young people expressed their gratitude for the performance, as well as their own interest in the arts inspired by such a wonderful production. This is especially influential as art can often be helpful medium for those who have endured distress. 

A special thank you to the cast, crew, and producers of OSCAR at the Crown for donating the special performance for one of the most vulnerable populations and for Saving Jane for including ECPAT-USA in such a powerful event. 

Photo courtesy of OSCAR @ the Crown

Making The Grade: Measuring the Impact of Our Youth Empowerment Program

Our Youth Against Child Trafficking (Y-ACT) Program is designed to educate, empower and develop the leadership skills of young people. Through our workshops, students learn about the  facts, misconceptions and risks of trafficking and are given the tools needed to identify the warning signs and resources to protect themselves and their peers. Y-ACT empowers youth to be the voices of their communities who are advocating against the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.

In order to assess the impact of the Y-ACT program pre and post testing is used to examine the net change in overall comprehension and understanding of the material. Recently, we analyzed student responses from these tests from the 2017-2018 academic year and compiled them into a new report.  The program reached 2,187 students in public and private schools throughout NYC.   

The report shows students have a 23% increase in an understanding of child sex trafficking.  Alongside this increase in understanding, students shared how the workshop impacts their lives.  One student said “I liked how we learned something so severe is going on. Sex trafficking is a serious problem that can happen to anyone including me.”  The report highlights that students believe these programs are useful in their lives as 83% of students say they will use information from the healthy relationships workshop in their personal lives.  It is not only students that believe the program is useful, but teachers as well. Ninety-three percent of teachers said the child trafficking workshop was “extremely useful” for their students.

The 2017-2018 impact report highlights the increase in knowledge, awareness, and desire to learn more from the workshops.  But one student’s comments highlights what this program is all about. This student wrote, “today's lesson was really interesting and made me interested in this kind of topic. I wasn’t thinking about this kind of issue before.  I wasn’t paying attention but now I will and I’m interested. I want to hear more; I want to know more.” YACT has been a catalyst for this student and thousands of others to understand and advocate on the issue of child sex trafficking.

Launch of ECPAT-USA Cause Vision Comic Book to Prevent Child Sex Trafficking


Where Is Dylan? is an innovative new tool for preventing the sex trafficking of children in the form of an educational comic book. It was launched last week in New York City by ECPAT-USA in partnership with the Administration for Children’s ServicesCauseVision and JCCA. Fifteen thousand copies will be distributed to at-risk youth throughout the City.

The comic book focuses on the stories of two young people, a boy named Dylan and a girl named Ashley. It delivers a trafficking prevention message to them in a child-friendly format of pictures and simple vocabulary to capture their attention and make the material accessible to a wide range of reading levels. It is a compelling mechanism for the engagement of NYC youth with a tough topic, and in a way that is empowering, thoughtful and educational.

Executive Director Carol Smolesnki speaking at the Where Is Dylan? launch event.

Executive Director Carol Smolesnki speaking at the Where Is Dylan? launch event.

An educated child is the most practical and immediate deterrent to child sex trafficking. By providing preventive information in this format, the comic book can teach children and youth how to identify traffickers, identify recruitment techniques, and where they can get help. Most of the distribution will take place through New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. But copies are also available through ECPAT-USA. Contact ECPAT-USA at to inquire about how to receive copies.