Social workers must respond to any humanitarian crisis domestically and abroad. The international issue of human trafficking and its impact requires the attention of social workers. Many are antagonized by the scope of the issue and feel helpless. However, small actions within a social work organization and community can begin to solve the problem of human trafficking. The goal is to prevent the problem through education and to cope with the trauma by offering counseling within communities.
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Human trafficking is a modern version of slavery. Its victims experience fraud, coercion, and abuse for forced labor or commercial sex trafficking. People are exploited and coerced into debt bondage or peonage, and repayment in forms of labor is demanded.
Men are commonly subjected to forced labor while women and children are exploited for illegal sexual purposes. Over 21 million people worldwide are affected by this crime against humanity, making it a prioritizing issue for international social work professionals. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 is a federal law enacted to address the issue. It focuses on the prevention and prosecution of human trafficking in the United States and internationally. Aid and benefits are provided towards victim assistance to help them rebuild their lives. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).
The necessity for human services to focus on this issue is founded on the ethical standards of the profession. The human need is exhibited here as people’s lives are exploited for various trafficking purposes. There is a fundamental responsibility to the public and society, existing in standard 14 (awareness of social issues) and 16 (advocating for social justice and eliminating oppression). Maintaining these values is at the very core of the human services profession (National Organization for Human Services, n.d.).
Society is aware of the human trafficking issue. However, many have false beliefs that it happens in distant 3rd world countries and is organized by criminal groups with which they cannot possibly associate. While that is partially true, the issue is prominent in the US, and many people are coerced and exploited by someone they know in the community. There are a clear knowledge and education gap, in different spheres, including in social work training.
An interagency government exists to address the issue, but there is no specific roadmap on impacting change within small communities and cities. Human services should focus on identifying victims and engaging them with a careful and therapeutic approach. Human service professionals need to understand the scope of human trafficking and potential identifying signs that a victim may exhibit, particularly sexually exploited women and youth who are the most prominent target of trafficking in the United States. There is a complex approach to help victims escape from trafficking and gradually restore their psychological wellness. Human service workers gaining the skills and knowledge to work with victims can make a meaningful change within their communities (Hodge, 2014).
The main challenge in addressing human trafficking is organizing a comprehensive change effort. While the argument for the position is undeniable, the critical support to impose change is missing. Leaders may find themselves needing to restructure the organizational development completely. In this case, it means reforming the education approach to social work. The focus on the issue at hand will be a driving force for concrete actions. Cooperation and coalitions between organizations, agencies, and social agents invested in making a change are an effective way to address the issue from several perspectives and resources (Homan, 2016).
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Making these improvements to the human services field and working to find resolutions to the problem will improve the lives of many people, including rehabilitating victims that are struggling to rebuild their lives. Overall, the effort will raise awareness, protect people, and promote community cohesiveness.
Beverly takes a unique approach to immigration by emphasizing the impact of personal relationships on residence status. She describes how the social worker can help a woman through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The legislation exists to protect women, but the human services professional is acting reactively by trying to aid with filing the VAWA self-petition. Theories of social change have to be developed to prevent such situations.
Homan (2016) emphasizes cooperation among organizations and agencies to find solutions to ongoing issues using a wide variety of resources. Collaboration between human services and government agencies can help develop proactive solutions by analyzing the intricacies and trends of similar situations. That way, new policies can form, such as a legal guarantee for a woman before she enters the country in such abusive circumstances. Opposing viewpoints may state this issue happens rarely and is not relevant. To them, the main problem is the manipulation of immigration laws for people to enter the country this way and then claim protection under U.S. law.
Parrish chose to analyze a controversial socio-economic issue that is deeply rooted in public opinion and politics. Taking on such a major social issue exemplifies ethical standards that a human service professional should practice. Specifically, the responsibility to society in Standard 12 is evident, which calls for advocating for legislative change when it violates ethical guidelines and clients’ rights. Also, Standard 16 emphasizes the knowledge of socio-political issues that affect diverse client backgrounds (National Organization for Human Services, n.d.). Parrish recognizes the difficulty of making a social change related to this matter. However, advocating for proper evaluation of legislation seems to be the best way forward. An opposing viewpoint will argue that the law is fair and balanced by setting limits for criminals. They would say that inherent racism does not cause the social divide, but rather the socio-cultural approach to education and jobs.
Hodge, D. (2014). Assisting victims of human trafficking: Strategies to facilitate identification, exit from trafficking, and the restoration of wellness. Social Work, 59(2), 111-118. Web.
Homan, M. S. (2016). Promoting community change: Making it happen in the real world (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage. Web.
National Organization for Human Services. (n.d.). Ethical standards for human service professionals. Web.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Fact sheet: Human trafficking. Web.