Empowering youth and equipping educators to recognize and respond to issues of exploitation.

Exploitation: Taking advantage of someone’s vulnerability in order to achieve personal gain.

Thousands of US minors are victims of exploitation through trafficking each year. Since its inception in 2003, the FBI has rescued over 2,700 kids through its Innocence Lost initiatives, yet its agents believe they are only scratching the surface. Child trafficking and sexual exploitation is an enormous problem in the United States.

The Empower Youth Program is an engaging, multimedia prevention-focused curriculum that trains and inspires students and educators to sustainably address exploitative situations in their school and surrounding neighborhoods. Utilizing a series of filmed media, illustrations, interactive activities, and discussion prompts, the program trains educators and students to recognize and respond to exploitative situations, including trafficking. The curriculum confronts root cause vulnerabilities while equipping students to actively respond to exploitative situations and people. Simultaneously, it addresses the important role empathy plays in solving issues of exploitation. Our goal is to empower students to not only stay safe, but to also be empathetically engaged in their own school, neighborhood, and community at large.

Curriculum Content and Format:

By the summer of 2014, the Empower Youth Program will be available for wide distribution.  While many prevention programs require that the host organization be present to lead the trainings, the Empower Youth Program comes in a content package (consisting of a film bundle and facilitator guidebook) that any facilitator can lead. The program covers these five content areas:

  • Module One: Empathy – What is empathy, and why is it important in my life?
  • Module Two: Negative Pushes – How can I navigate negative personal and cultural pushes in my life?
  • Module Three: Negative Pulls – How can I navigate negative personal and cultural pulls in my life, especially when people sometimes wear deceptive disguises?
  • Module Four: Positive Pulls – How can I determine the difference between a disguise and a real positive pull in my life?
  • Module Five: Intervening Safely – How can I identify someone who may be experiencing exploitation, and how can I help?

The program is ideal for the classroom or small groups. Flexibly designed as a five lesson unit, it can be integrated into a school’s curriculum or added to existing at-risk youth outreach initiatives. Each lesson is 15 minutes in length, with optional extension activities up to 50 minutes.

Student Responses to the Empower Youth Program:

  • “It changed the way I look at the world because I have sisters.”
  • “There are a lot of people who have it harder than me. I put myself in other people’s shoes and I would want someone to help.”
  • “It opened my eyes and made me be careful about my surroundings.”
  • “I will let people know about it and spread the [National Human Trafficking Hotline] number around.”

National Impact:

We have engaged over 2,000 students in Colorado and Los Angeles and are working on Detroit, Atlanta and Mexico City. We are targeting strategic cities, schools, and existing at-risk youth programs with a focus on the cities with the highest rates for trafficking of minors. The program is being evaluated by many of our colleagues who are experts in the fields of child development, education, and trafficking.

“This is the first time our students have actively participated in training being brought into our school.”
-Principal of the New America School, Lakewood, Colorado

Contact Us:

If you are interested in participating in the pilot program or learning more about the Empower Youth Program, please contact us at info@iempathize.org.

If you are interested in assisting with funding this program, please contact us at info@iempathize.org or visit donate.iempathize.org