January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This is an opportunity to educate more people about the realities of human trafficking, how damaging it is, and what we can all do to help prevent it. Prevention is a fundamental part of what we do at CAASE, and we work to prevent human trafficking by educating young men about the negative effects it has on those who are trafficked and society as a whole.
While women in prostitution are stigmatized, the men responsible for perpetuating the sex trade – the men who sell sex (pimps) and the men who buy sex (johns) – not only evade the stigma attached to the women they exploit, but our society glamorizes these men. More and more young men are saturated with this distortion to the point where many have come to accept it as reality. A CAASE study of 113 men who bought sex found that the average age at which the men first bought sex was a mere 21. Even more revealing, 11% of respondents admitted that the first time they bought sex was between the ages of 10 and 15-years-old. We realized that if boys as young as 4th graders were purchasing sex, there is a clear absence of education among young men regarding prostitution and sexual exploitation.
Young men are key to ending sex trafficking and the modern day slavery it imposes on millions of women worldwide. CAASE has created and implemented the first curriculum in the country that is specifically designed to educate young men about the harms of the sex trade. Our goal is to educate these young men about the damages of the sex trade and in doing so, create a generation of men dedicated to ending this daily exploitation.
CAASE’s curriculum, “Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation” has reached more than 1,000 students since its inception in March of 2010. Our instructor visits classrooms in Chicagoland to bring this multiple-session course directly to students. The interactive classes invite young men to examine the constructs of masculinity that have been presented to them by our culture, juxtaposed with the harsh realities of the sex trade. This topic is rarely, if ever, brought up with high school students otherwise, and initial surveys of students show that our work is making a real impact. By challenging the distortions promoted by popular culture, we enable students to resist the sex trade and join the fight to end it.
You can take action today. Do you have connections to a high school that might be interested in the curriculum? Visit http://caase.org/prevention today to learn how to bring the curriculum to your school.