This weekend Neighborhood Place of Puna joined the East Hawaii Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect to offer resources at a Child Trafficking Awareness Event.
Child trafficking happens in Hawai’i. Child trafficking is a process where a person’s — the child’s — labor or body is used against their will for profit or resources, such as food or housing. Child Trafficking happens at higher rates in Hawaii than in the nation as whole. Researchers have suggested that rates of child trafficking may be higher in Hawaii because of the significant presence of tourism and the military in the community. The tourist and military industries are transient in nature, and this may contribute to visitors being less invested in the long term health of our communities. Native Hawaiian children and their families who have been negatively impacted by American colonialism are over-represented in trafficking abuse cases.
Homeless youth are much more likely to be trafficked. Homelessness often forces individuals into situations where they are required to provide sex in exchange for housing, food, or safety. This is another reason housing instability and homelessness pose a health risk to community members. Renters — especially women and children — who are housing insecure and at risk for homelessness through eviction are also being victimized. For example early on in the eviction moratorium, reports of landlords sexually harassing and propositioning tenants who lost work during the pandemic were especially high in Hawai’i. The heightened risk of trafficking in Hawai’i is just one more reason why the work of housing our community members is so important.
If you would like to help our mission in protecting children and families by providing housing resources, please consider donating to our work today. If you would like to become involved in affordable housing advocacy or the East Hawaii Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect, visit ehcan.org or email our advocacy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you suspect you have seen a trafficking victim and know their location, you may contact the HSI Tipline at 1-866-347-2423 or contact local HSI Special Agents Ryan Faulkner 1-808-864-2590 email@example.com (Big Island) or Paul Malana 1-808-371-9350 firstname.lastname@example.org (Honolulu)
If you believe you or someone close to you are being trafficked, contact the
National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.