Hiding in Plain Sight: Simple Way to Safeguard Your Establisment from Sex Trafficking

Jeff Tiegs  |

The restaurant and lodging industries provide lasting memories and valuable services for travelers away from home for business and pleasure. At times, it can be difficult balancing privacy with protection, autonomy with accountability, or convenience with comfort. Hotels are crossroads for millions of people and play a crucial role in providing a place to rest and unwind. Sadly, this industry, built on the intention of providing comfortable accommodations is facing a growing problem. This problem is known as sex trafficking. Most people do not realize that hotels are a major target for sex traffickers.

Hotels are on the frontlines of this battle, and they deserve to be better equipped with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves. Traffickers feel that they can brazenly walk the halls and sit in the lobbies of hotels throughout America selling girls.Sometimes the girls come in with obvious indicators of abuse, exploitation and trafficking. It is not always easy to discern what is happening. It is not easy to know exactly what to do but something has to be done.

Hotels should have well defined procedures and protocols in place when confronted with a suspected trafficking case. All hotel employees should be equipped with the knowledge of what the indicators of a trafficking scenario look like. Identifying victims and alerting authorities can help save a victim’s life and hopefully lead to the arrest of a sex trafficker. The hotel industry must train employees correctly so that the liability of the crime is not placed on the hotel but can be deflected onto the shoulders of the perpetrator.

Recognizing the indicators of sex trafficking and having a reporting protocol in place are the first steps to better safeguard your business. Training not only helps prevent sex trafficking, it also keeps the hotel industry free from liability. Training provides a deterrent to traffickers and is a beacon of light to the victims, it allows the hotel industry an avenue to act on their social responsibility as well as protect themselves from civil and criminal liability.

States all across the United States are introducing legislation to require training for hoteliers and their staff to recognize and respond to indicators of sex trafficking. We do not want to pass the liability of these traffickers onto the hotels but we want the hotels informed and armed to defend themselves.

There is no reason for an upright industry to get caught up in this mess. Get involved, shape the discussion, set the conditions so all parties are protected.

How does the hotel industry receive the correct training and know where they can find the resources necessary to detect, prevent, and report sex trafficking? Guardian Group recommends that businesses design a plan of action and know how they are going to address trafficking indicators, what they can do to reinforce or alleviate their suspicions and inform all staff how and when to report the crime to law enforcement.

Guardian Group also outlines what someone should do if they suspect the occurrence of sex trafficking. Never attempt to make contact or directly confront a suspected trafficker or alert the victim that you are suspicious. Instead, call 9-1-1 if the situation is emergent, such as threats of violence and physical assault. Guardian Group provides a significant amount of information about this crime on their non-profit’s website. Booklets and training manuals that explain sex trafficking and how to become involved are available.

Help protect our communities. Help protect our children.

Guardian Group is here to help! Visit www.theguardiangroup.org. The Guardian Seal Training Program is a 100% self-paced online training program designed to help hotels and their staff recognize the signs of human trafficking within their establishments. The Guardian Seal begins by helping staff at all levels understand how this criminal enterprise intersects their workplace and why it is imperative to be able to respond appropriately when they suspect it. The training will ensure hotel staff understand how to identify sex trafficking so they are equipped to recognize exploiters, buyers and victims of this fast-growing crime. Learn more at www.theguardiangroup.org/seal

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