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Human trafficking is the action of illegally transporting people between countries. Usually, people who are trafficked are victims of labor or sexual exploitation.
The U.S. Department of State released a report, “A Trafficking in Persons Report: June 2019” which breaks down the severity of it. In the report, Sec. of State Michael Pompeo said, “Right now, traffickers are robbing a staggering 24.9 million people of their freedom and basic human dignity-that’s roughly three times the population of New York City.”
Faculty at the University of New Haven are helping educate students on the issue.
Joshua Hecht, who teaches in the university’s hospitality and tourism department, worked with the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau, Connecticut Lodging Association, and his convention and meeting planning students to host a human trafficking seminar. The students learned about the process of planning a seminar and about the issue of human trafficking.
The students worked together to book the room, plan the food, and design the layout of the room.
Robert Flynn, former president of Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau, is a certified trainer on human trafficking through the state Dept. of Children and Families, and he is president of Risk Management Services for the Crumpton Group in Washington, D.C. Flynn also graduated from the FBI’s Citizen Academy.
Flynn told the audience, “The subject matter we’re going to talk about today is very heavy. There’s some disturbing material we’re going to discus …If anyone here feels the need to take a break, to walk out in the hallway…do so.
“But come back. Don’t run away from the seminar and don’t run away from the topic.”
Along with Flynn, there were representatives from state Dept.of Children and Families, and from the FBI.
The speakers told the crowd how people become victims, and they spoke about the difficult process of escaping human trafficking. They also shared stories about victims. For example, sometimes traffickers will develop a love relationship with a child victim. The child then is induced to stay.
A student in the convention and meeting planning class, Rachel Myjak, a senior business management major, said the seminar opened her eyes on human trafficking.
“Listening to the stories of the victims and the families of the victims was heartbreaking,” said Myjak. “The most devastating thing I learned was that the youngest sex trafficking victim was only 2 years old.”
As Flynn said, “I can’t think of a crime that shows more the travesty of us being human. People who for their own economic benefit, people trying to make money who take advantage of people who are vulnerable and needy, our children, it is just an atrocity.”