IHAV is our 10-week prevention education program reaching teen girls most vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation.
Utilizing an adaption of a nationally acclaimed curriculum, IHAV embraces an empowerment approach and blends a variety of activities which cultivate self-reflection, peer empathy, an understanding about the issue, and knowledge to help young women identify potentially exploitive situations and find a way out. The program changes girls’ attitudes and understanding of the commercial sex industry while building self-esteem and personal empowerment. The curriculum incorporates survivor testimony and examples of peer intervention to encourage participants to see themselves as a powerful voice of change, given knowledge they want to share with their sisters and friends.
The course covers various topics, including:
- Improving self-esteem
- Dispelling myths about commercial sexual exploitation
- Building awareness of pimp recruitment tactics
- Understanding the link between substance abuse and exploitation
- Understanding how mass media plays a role in demand
- Hearing real stories from survivors
- Equipping girls with local resources for help and advocacy
The most frequent age of entry into the commercial sex industry in the United States is 12–14 years old.
- Department of Justice
The program is tailored to impact adolescent girls with several risk factors making them especially vulnerable to exploitation. Such as:
- Their age
- Chronic running away
- Single-parent homes
- History of abuse
- Juvenile delinquency
The weekly classes are small and intimate, ensuring that rapport with each other and facilitators is established while a variety of difficult and often personal topics are discussed.
In order to assess the effectiveness of I HAVE A VOICE, participants are administered pre- and post-questionnaires and one year follow-up surveys. The results show that not only does the program help prevent the trafficking and exploitation of its participants, but it also enables the development of healthy coping and relational skills that will benefit their entire lives.
We have provided prevention education to over 300 at-risk teenage girls through I HAVE A VOICE program. With each class’s maximum capacity set at 12 participants, we ensure girls have a safe environment to learn about commercial sexual exploitation and have their individual voices heard.
Only 29% of beginning class participants could recognize a trafficker and exploitative situations, but at the end of the program, over 80% correctly recognized traffickers and exploitative situations!
IHAV is the only trafficking prevention program offered in East Texas and one of the only programs offered to females in the juvenile detention centers.
We project the spring, summer, and fall 2018 sessions will serve approximately 200 female youth. The extension of its influence on their friend groups, siblings, and families is inestimable.
The I HAVE A VOICE course has been a tremendous success for us and vital to our community due to such limited resources for agencies who work with at-risk teenagers. For the Silent is critical to our success in detecting and serving young girls in Smith County that are at risk of exploitation and we look forward to a continued partnership with them. -Ross Worley Director, Smith Country Juvenile Services
IHAV is ongoing and an investment of funds would not only affect 200 girls this year, but the hundreds who will continue to come through our program every session in the coming years.