When we talk to people about the issue of child abuse imagery and child sex trafficking, the most common response we hear is, “what can I do to help end this problem?” The highlighted programs below are two ways that you can play a role in preventing child sex trafficking and stopping the exploitation of children now.
BeFree Text Shortcode
In the spring of 2013, Thorn partnered with Twilio, Polaris Project and the Salesforce Foundation to launch the BeFree text shortcode, an SMS-based hotline integrated into the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the BeFree (233733) text shortcode allows victims of human trafficking and concerned citizens to anonymously and discretely send SMS alerts or tips to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline.
“Working directly with survivors of human trafficking, we know that many of them regularly communicate via text… and may be able to send a quick, discreet text message” – Sarah Jakiel, deputy director of Polaris Project
The NHTRC hotline receives an average of 1,000 calls per month, and has connected over 8,300 victims of human trafficking to assistance and support since its inception in 2007. Since the text hotline launched, The BEFREE Text shortcode has led to more than 1,423 texting conversations, which has led to 856 substantive cases created. Also, victims are choosing to text at nearly double the rate that they call – demonstrating that texting is a more accessible way for victims themselves to reach out for help. If you see something suspicious or would like to connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).
Another resource for reporting leads and tips regarding suspected crimes of sexual exploitation of children is the CyberTipline, operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Operated in partnership with analysts from the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice and other state and local law enforcement agencies, the CyberTipline has received more than 2.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation since its inception in 1998.
Reports to the CyberTipline can be filed under eight separate reporting categories including, Possession, Manufacture and Distribution of Child Pornography; Online Enticement of Children for Sexual Acts; Child Sex Trafficking; Sex Tourism Involving Children; Extrafamilial Child Sexual Molestation; and Unsolicited Obscene Material Sent to a Child.
If you have information regarding possible child sexual exploitation, you can call in a report at 1-800-843-5678 or through NCMEC’s CyberTipline at www.cybertipline.com
For more information about the BeFree text shortcode and the NHTRC, see Polaris Project’s website. To read more about the CyberTipline, visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website.