WHAT WE DO
Jerome Elam, President & CEO of the Trafficking in America Task Force, was trafficked from the age of five to 12, in Florida, USA.
Our mission is to prevent human trafficking through youth education, awareness-raising, and advocacy.
Our approach is to focus on education by encouraging youth voices to share what they learn, be aware of what this illicit trade is all about, and generate an “echo” worldwide. Youth education is where the prevention of human trafficking begins and this is at the core of all our work.
Our activities include:
- Raising awareness about human trafficking in a manner that the youth can understand, and investing in programs that sensitize and benefit the youth and people of all ages;
- Promoting youth initiatives and activities that contribute to combating human trafficking;
- Engaging the youth in developing activities, discussions, and tools that contribute to combating human trafficking;
- Acknowledging and communicating worldwide, positive youth initiatives that contribute to combating human trafficking.
We carry out these activities by organizing youth events and linking them with the relevant associations — organizing youth conferences, closed workshops, and public events and campaigns.
Our value-added includes:
- 20+ years’ experience with humanitarian associations;
- A large network of key associations, companies and the media; and
- Strong social media expertise and reach.
We have two types of contributors:
- Individual contributors, including the youth, through their time, creativity, ideas, support and actions; and
- Private and institutional donors, who help us back this youth community.
Youth Underground is a trademarked Swiss Nonprofit Association formed in accordance with articles 60 ff of the Swiss Civil Code, representing the voice of the youth for a world without human trafficking. It is a global education, information-sharing and advocacy platform, a knowledge and youth hub, to showcase initiatives against human trafficking by the youth, as advocates of change and defenders of human rights across age and frontier. Through youth education about human trafficking, Youth Underground is a sounding board and a safe space for the youth to express themselves, speak out freely about human trafficking, share information they learn as well as news and campaigns from their regions of the world. We believe that youth education is where the prevention of human trafficking begins, and this is at the core of all our work.
1. THE YOUTH FOCUS
Children and young people are not only the prime victims of human trafficking – with some as young as four years old and less – but are also those who speak out against this illicit trade and influence their peers and the adults in their immediate circles (parents/guardians and teachers). They are today’s advocates for change and change-makers. We ensure the youth are involved in the conversation about all aspects of human trafficking as well as the overall response to prevent this trade.
2. THE EDUCATION FOCUS
We believe that youth education is the ripple effect where awareness and prevention of human trafficking begin. We also believe that the youth are empowered by knowing the truth. It is important to note that our definition of education goes beyond the academic meaning of the word. We define education as a two-way conversation in which we, as adults, learn from the youth as much as they learn from us.
Education is gauging a pulse of what matters to the youth and what they need to understand. It encompasses emotional intelligence, empathy, respect, and compassion. It is an empowerment tool that allows the youth to navigate without fear in areas that they might otherwise feel uncertain about; in other words, to be aware of the facts, to prevent human trafficking and to protect themselves by learning to spot the signs of this trade. Furthermore, prevention and protection in their schools/universities lead to empowerment in their everyday lives, increasing their self-esteem and confidence. It helps them understand that they have both the power and capacity to shape the world they want to live in.
Last but not least, education is being able to acquire the tools necessary to navigate beyond an academic setting, within their immediate circles, in the workplace and throughout their lives. When people refer to the youth as the leaders of tomorrow, we refer to them as the leaders of today.
3. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A “SAFE SPACE”
Youth Underground is a safe space and sounding board for the youth to express themselves and speak out freely about human trafficking and any human rights and well-being issues of concern to them, share the information they learn, and share their news and campaigns from their regions of the world. Peer-to-peer transfer of knowledge is what empowers the youth to take control over how they navigate through the world around them, how they are actors in shaping they world they want to live in, and how to equip themselves with the tools to prevent human trafficking, protect themselves and live healthy lives.
We encourage the youth to speak up if they feel discomfort about what they see. “If you see something, say something” is what we go by. However, to be able to do that, they need to voice their concerns with persons (adults in particular) they can trust without encountering any harmful repercussions. In other words, they need a safe space to express themselves.
This is what we provide – via email or social media direct messaging. For those who feel uncomfortable discussing assault or sexual violence – let alone potential trafficking – to their immediate circles (family, friends, teachers), they know that we at Youth Underground, are available and reachable at all times, to provide them with the guidance and outreach they need. Their information always remains confidential, and we act upon what we are told.
Today, child slavery is at an all-time high. An estimated 5.5 million children around the world are losing their childhood to human trafficking. The youth are victims of different types of trafficking from an early age (often as young as five years old), such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, as soldiers, as drug dealers, begging, and in forced marriages (child brides). But the youth are also activists and change-makers. This is not only a two-way learning experience but also an opportunity to hear what young people have to say, and take their thoughts and concerns on board.
While Youth Underground’s objective is to raise awareness about human trafficking in a manner that young people can understand, it is also intended for all ages to share correct information about human trafficking and to highlight the value of a human life. It is essential to shine a like on human trafficking and break down the barriers of taboo, so that this trade becomes part of the everyday narrative of people of all ages around the world.
KNOWLEDGE IS EMPOWERMENT!
Looking for a safe space to turn? A platform to share your concerns?
Seek advice? Find answers? Showcase what you’re doing? Volunteer?
Then Youth Underground is the right platform for YOU!
What is Human Trafficking? What is Youth Underground? (English & French)