The Key Role Hotels Play in Ending Child Sex Trafficking

Guest Blog Post by Emily Becker, Director of Digital Content at ECPAT-USA

Human Trafficking

Each January — National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month — is a time for us at ECPAT-USA to rededicate ourselves to our mission of ending exploitation. Our partnerships in the hotel and travel industry are a vital part of that mission, and with the right tools, every associate can join the fight to end child sex trafficking.

From budget to luxury hotels, the sexual exploitation of children is an issue that affects the entire spectrum of the hospitality industry. Traffickers are known to book hotel and motel rooms when setting up encounters between buyers and victims of trafficking, turning the hotel industry into an unknowing and unwilling venue for exploitation.

However, these systems also present a unique opportunity for the industry to come together to protect children. Hotel associates can play a key role in preventing or disrupting this crime once they receive training to recognize and properly report suspected incidents.

The first step in combating human trafficking is ensuring that hotel associates are aware of and able to respond to the signs of exploitation. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) partnered with ECPAT-USA to offer training for hotels, which teaches associates what to look for and the appropriate actions to take in a potential trafficking situation. With these tools, employees are able to feel educated and empowered when it comes to intervening in suspicious situations — a reaction that is sometimes, quite literally, life changing.

George said will never forget that child’s face, that it has haunted him since then.

Take George, for example. We’ve changed his name to protect his identify but he came up to an ECPAT-USA representative after a training and said that when he first started his job working the front-desk of a hotel, he saw a boy who was trying to check into his hotel. The boy didn’t have luggage, he was a bit disheveled and definitely underage. Not too young though. George did not have the same mindset he has today. He thought the boy was going to do things that he didn’t want to happen at his hotel. He didn’t know what to do so he made the child leave. George said will never forget that child’s face, that it has haunted him since then.

He is proud that the company he works for teaches their team how to look beyond the surface – see children differently. They teach people about trafficking and empower them with the steps for how to respond.

When ECPAT-USA started working with hotels to combat child sex trafficking 15 years ago, very few people understood the urgency of our work. Now, the industry has recognized offering anti-trafficking training to associates as a best practice, and brands recognize the desire of present-day consumers to support responsible companies. During National Human Trafficking Awareness Month — and year round — we urge everyone to increase awareness and action to end child sex trafficking.

About ECPAT-USA

ECPAT-USA is the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of the ECPAT International network, with offices in 95 countries. For more information, visit http://www.ecpatusa.org/code.

Contact: (718) 935–9192 or info@ecpatusa.org.