What Effective Prevention Looks Like
Research shows us that awareness alone doesn’t necessarily make young people safer. The factors that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation are complex and varied. Preventing it is not as simple as, “Just say no to traffickers.” When children encounter a trafficker, they are at a disadvantage. They might see a friend, an ally. If they don’t know they’re being manipulated, they could be in too deep before they know what’s happening. The most effective prevention strategy teaches young people how to recognize their vulnerabilities, identify a potential trafficker, and equips them with the tools to know how to respond.
For too long, many of us in the anti-trafficking movement were responding to what traffickers were doing. Love146 is determined to make traffickers respond to what we’re doing, and to raise a generation of young people who will be equipped to protect themselves. Our prevention curriculum, Not a Number, is a strategic response to the realities of trafficking and exploitation. It’s an in-depth prevention program informed by the experiences of survivors, and written with the help of some of the leading anti-trafficking and child protection experts in the country. The curriculum was developed for youth ages 12-18, including male, female, and youth that identify as LGBTQ. Not a Number is applicable across gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Love146 implements Not a Number directly with children – and then we scale our impact by training and equipping facilitators to bring these programs to even more youth throughout the United States.
Why Our Prevention Curriculum Is Called Not a Number
Many of you know that our name, Love146, was inspired by a girl our co-founders encountered during a fact-finding trip to Southeast Asia in 2002:
We were taken undercover with investigators to a brothel where we witnessed children being sold for sex. We found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with predators in a small room, looking at young girls through glass. The girls wore red dresses with a number pinned on for identification. We could see no light in their eyes, no outward signs of any vitality left.
Except one girl. Her number was 146. She was the only girl looking beyond the glass of the brothel window. She was staring back at us with a piercing glaze. There was still a fight left in her eyes. There was still life and hope in her.
We will never know her name, but we will always remember the number she wore: 146. She began this love story.
There are thousands now who know this story and tell it with the hope and passion that one day the insanity and injustice of exploitation will come to an end. And when it does, that girl we met 15 years ago who was called 146, will be part of the reason why it did.
When we were developing our prevention curriculum, we wanted a name that was compelling and relevant to both youth and professionals. So we convened a group of young people to help us out. We sat around a coffee table and told them about Love146. We outlined the curriculum, and told them our founding story. As the table filled with sticky notes brainstorming ideas, we were floored with what they came up with: Not a Number, a connection to, and tribute to, the girl who wore “146.”
How You Can help
If you’re a parent, caregiver, or other concerned community member, you can check out our Prevention Resources For Caregivers. You can also share information about Not a Number with eligible schools, child welfare and juvenile justice agencies, and other youth-serving organizations in your area. If you are a professional who works with youth, consider learning more about the Not a Number licensing and certification process.
Not a statistic, not a price, not a label, not a number — children should never be commodified. Love146’s prevention curriculum, Not a Number, has reached tens of thousands of youth with prevention education.