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Supporting sex trafficked, exploited, and at-risk youth in specialized residential settings

Basic staff training on human trafficking

Discussion guide

For further consideration and discussion, use these prompts to engage in team dialogue or conversation among staff and supervisors. 

Discussion questions

  1. What has been your experience working with sex trafficked, commercially sexually exploited, or at-risk youth been in the past?
  2. How does the training change how you may approach youth going forward?
  3. Does your program hear input from youth and families engaging in services?
  4. What are ways your program partners with other systems to meet youth needs?
  5. At what point do you talk with youth about grooming?
  6. How does understanding youth’s trauma change how you might work with them?
  7. What were some at-risk factors that surprised you?
  8. What was the most impactful quote you heard from the Voices of Safe Harbor quotes?
  9. What will you do to show youth that you want to build trust with them?
  10. What does your agency do to support staff who may experience vicarious trauma because of working with youth who had traumatic experiences?

Discussion guide scenarios

  1. Jonah is a new resident at your facility. He has been withdrawn and guarded and hasn’t wanted to talk much with adults at the facility. What are some ideas Jonah may have about how adults see him and his past experiences?
  2. Davante, who uses the pronouns they/them, is a resident who has been working to understand how grooming happened to them. They have been thinking a lot about how much they trusted their new friend Sofia. The two became fast friends. Sofia seemed so interested in Davante and wanted to help them and make sure they had what they needed, like nice clothes, food, and a safe place to sleep. Davante trusted Sofia when she introduced them to Jo, who also seemed to care about Davante. Jo wanted Sofia and Davante to have sex with other people so they would all have enough money to keep having nice things and a place to stay. What were some signs this was an example of grooming? 
  3. Jonah appears either angry and lashes out, or becomes tearful during free time every day. All the other residents are laughing, talking, doing art projects, and listening to music. One of the staff recognizes that when Jonah becomes upset is when a particular popular song plays. What are some things you might want to pay attention to/do in response?
  4. Thinking about Davante and their experiences with grooming, let’s spend a moment thinking about why a youth like Davante might groom and recruit another youth. What are some reasons this may occur and what could it look like in your facility?
  5. Resident Dani has not engaged much in the program and seems distracted. Her behavior is across the spectrum -- from being silly and immature to tantrumming, to physically lashing out. She often says she doesn’t want to stay in the program. As you interact with Dani, what are some things you may need to remember about youth coming into programming?
  6. Dani has made the decision to leave the facility without a plan and without adult assistance. She disappears one day after breakfast and another resident informs staff that Dani was talking about meeting up with her boyfriend, who staff suspects are involved in trafficking Dani. What are the steps your facility needs to take?
  7. Davante, age 16, participated in a Not a Number prevention group this morning. During group, they started to open up about some of their own experiences with grooming and some sexual acts they were pressured to do by their friend for another person. Davante was emotional and wants to connect with a therapist when they leave your program and return home. What are two things you need to make note of and what should your follow-up steps be for Davante?
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