As National Human Trafficking Prevention Month comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect and celebrate the hard work that the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) contributes to combatting this crime against humanity. And it is hard work. It weighs heavy on the minds of our staff; no matter how many times we examine, consult, and research a subject that will perhaps stay with us for the rest of our days, we remain steadfast in our mission. Day in and day out, we power through data, research, and information to inform, assist, and empower. It is truly our mission to leverage the power of science to strengthen the security our homeland—and the people within.
Through an evidence and scientifically informed base, S&T plays a unique role in combating all forms of human trafficking through foundational research and technical direction. We advised on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) roadmap and continue to evaluate ongoing Blue Campaign efforts. Last March, we awarded funding to Harvard University to study the Campaign’s impact, as well as developing research agendas to further our knowledge and target sound investments on this complex crime. We also support the National Action Plan released by the White House this past December.
We also fight on the front lines in an ever-evolving dark cyber world of sex trafficking and the exploitation and abuse of children. In FY2021, we transitioned several digital forensics tools to counter human trafficking on livestream platforms. The tools were shared with Homeland Security Investigations counterparts within DHS, as well as with international partners, adding more weapons to our global arsenal to fight sex trafficking. They have already identified and saved children and provided evidence to prosecute offenders.
As we close Human Trafficking Prevention Month, I urge you to keep the DHS Blue Campaign front and center in your mind not just now, but throughout the year. We often see and hear the mantra “If you see something, say something,” and these words and the spirit behind them have truly helped victims time and time again. This is a very important mission, one that every single one of us has a responsibility to see through. So, I’ll remind you: If you suspect possible human trafficking, report it to federal law enforcement at 1-866-347-2423 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. (Victims can also text HELP or INFO to BeFree at 233733.)