Amy Capparelli successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Human Trafficking 101: What are the Outcomes of Human Trafficking Training?”
Sex trafficking is a public health concern affecting approximately 4.5 million victims each year (International Labor Office, 2012). Despite the pervasiveness of sex trafficking, many people still hold false beliefs about the topic. Endorsement of false beliefs may lead to failure to identify victims and victim blaming (Cunningham & Cromer, 2014). A variety of educational trainings are available for professionals and community members to learn more about sex trafficking. The goals of such trainings are to reduce the endorsement of common myths about trafficking, and to increase identification of victims and reporting of suspicions to authorities. Trainings are provided in a variety of formats such as: facts-only (Polaris Project, 2012), stories-only (Equality Now, 2014), and combined facts and stories (Department of Homeland Security, 2018). However, there is little literature investigating the efficacy of sex trafficking educational trainings. In the current study, 268 participants were recruited nationwide using Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants completed several questionnaires online as a pre-training assessment. Variables assessed included: myth endorsement, self-reported and actual knowledge, identification of sex trafficking scenarios, reactions to sex trafficking scenarios, and willingness to engage in behaviors to combat trafficking. Next, participants were randomly assigned to complete one of three trainings (i.e., facts-only, stories-only, combination) to learn about sex trafficking. One week later, participants completed the same questionnaires online as a post-training assessment. Participants were most satisfied with the facts-only training. Participants showed improvements in myth endorsement, perceived and actual knowledge, identification of sex trafficking, risk sensitivity to sex trafficking scenarios, victim blaming, decision to report sex trafficking scenarios to authorities, perceptions of sex trafficking as a major problem, willingness to engage in prosocial behaviors to combat sex trafficking, and likelihood to engage in behaviors to intervene in a situation where sex trafficking was suspected. Explanations for the findings and directions for future research and practice are discussed.