January is human trafficking awareness month, and with the Superbowl coming to Miami, it is an important time to raise awareness and remember that human trafficking is a year-round issue. Florida is one of the top four states with the highest rates of human trafficking, and those rates only increase when any big event comes to town.
NSU has its own group to raise awareness and education against human trafficking. The Coalition for Research and Educate Against Human Trafficking Exploitation, otherwise known as CREATE, was founded in 2015 by Brianna Black Kent and Sandrine Gaillard-Kenney, both staff members at the Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences. The goal of the group is to train healthcare professionals and members of the public with the skills to identify victims of human trafficking and provide healthcare and social services to victims.
Kent, who is an associate professor and assistant dean for Professional Development and Education for the Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences as well as the co-director for CREATE explained that, through CREATE, “We research and educate healthcare professionals and other academic members in the community on human trafficking awareness, identification and referral. We also provide services to survivors at no cost. Currently, we provide dental services, vision services and a year of mental health services.”
CREATE utilizes Uber and Lyft for patients who cannot bring themselves to their healthcare appointments, so they hold events that train Uber and Lyft drivers as well. They also hold presentations and training sessions for graduate students, honor college students and on occasion undergraduate students.
Gaillard-Kenney, who is also an associate professor and associate dean for the Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences and co-director for CREATE explained, “These [patients] are individuals who have lost their ability to choose and have lost their freedom. It’s especially important in our clinical environment to be able to train healthcare professionals to explain to their patients what they are going to do and gaining trust with their patients. Because that’s the biggest thing, trust. Survivors can come right to our clinic and get the care they need.”
CREATE aims to not only raise awareness and train individuals during January, but year round — and with the Super Bowl next month, now is a critical time to recognize the reality of human trafficking.
“Every time there is a huge event that brings in a lot of people and a lot of money, traffickers bring a lot of girls to the local hotels and other areas. There is a huge increase in sex trafficking and labor trafficking during big events,” Gaillard-Kenney remarked.
If you see something, suspect something or know something: say something. Resources can be found at https://humantraffickinghotline.org. You can also call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.