Innocents at Risk is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded to fight child exploitation and human trafficking. Our mission is to educate citizens about the grave issue of global and local human trafficking. We are dedicated to protecting children from all forms of abuse, and work to end child exploitation and child trafficking everywhere.
Human Trafficking is a $32 billion industry worldwide, and it is happening throughout the world in every country and across the United States in every major city and small town. According to the Department of State, 2 million women and children are victims of human trafficking every year. In the United States, 300 thousand children are forced into child prostitution and child pornography each year. In Washington DC alone, trafficking innocent children is a $100 million industry.
Since 2004, Innocents at Risk has been working to raise awareness about the horrors of child trafficking in America and around the world. We conduct educational outreach programs through churches, clubs, organizations, schools and embassies. Our awareness DVD has been used at every major embassy and throughout the United States as an educational resource.
In 2007, we began training airline personnel, who are our first line of defense in protecting the countless children who are trafficked on major flights each day. Our brochures, wrist bands, and educational workshops have armed thousands of flight attendants with information on how to recognize and report trafficking before even reaching the ground. With the help of our new partner, Airline Ambassadors (airlineamb.org), we are working to expand our outreach to all major carriers.
Child trafficking affects all of us. TOGETHER, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILD TRAFFFICKING.
Deborah S. Sigmund
Please watch this short fllm:
A letter from Deborah Sigmund
One Voice. Once Mission. End Human Trafficking
We appreciate your continued engagement on the issue of human trafficking, and wanted to share with you a story of a successful investigation of an international sex trafficking ring. Please see the ICE press release below for more information on this case. Thank you for your continued efforts to combat human trafficking. To learn more about human trafficking, how to identify victims, and report suspected cases of human trafficking, please visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign.
HSI special agents arrest 13 in connection with international sex trafficking and prostitution network
NEW YORK — More than a dozen members of an alleged international sex trafficking ring were taken into custody Tuesday to face charges for sex trafficking. The arrests are a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jada Pinkett Smith and the War on Human Trafficking
A crime that amounts to modern day slavery
“The War on Human Trafficking” Aired on January 14, 2013
Innocents at Risk Year End Letter
Dear Friends of Innocents at Risk,
2012 has been an especially busy year for Innocents at Risk. Working in partnership with The Department of Transportation, The Department of Homeland Security (CBP, ICE) and Airline Ambassadors the Innocent at Risk Flight Attendant Initiative has become more efficient and has expanded to all forms of transportation including trains, trucking and taxis (this is referred as The Blue Campaign). Innocents at Risk partnered with Airline Ambassadors for Airline Trainings in San Francisco and Ronald Regan Airports for US carriers. Additionally, we have expanded our airline training to Aeromexico, Air Canada and recently Copa Airlines of Panama. Our office continues to act as a liaison and training point for flight attendants, as well as high school and college students.
Throughout the year, Innocents at Risk was hosted for Awareness Events internationally and throughout the US. The events were held in Palm Beach, Florida; in New York City, New York; Los Angeles, California; the Embassy of Mexico; in Washington DC; in Louisville, Kentucky; Panama City, Panama; at the Arena Stage in Washington DC; at area schools in Maryland and Washington DC. For more information about these events, please visit our website (www.innocentsatrisk.org).
We are so grateful for each of these events as they help educate the public that
Child Trafficking is real and a great threat to our society. This elicit industry produces over 32 Billion Dollars annually and has been able to thrive due to general lack of awareness. This week as I spoke with 9th and 10th grade girls at the Friendship Collegiate Academy in NE Washington, I was reminded of how important it is to get the message out to children, parents and teachers. Please help us continue our outreach to schools to educate them about the seriousness of this issue — This is the greatest Human Rights issue of our time. It is an educational issue, a health issue, a security issue and most of all it is a moral issue. It is our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable; Our Children. In the words of Queen Silvia of Sweden, “To see but not to see, to see but to deny, to see but not to act is a crime against a child. You can all do something. You can make a difference. Save a child.” We need your support in this fight to save innocent lives. We are making a difference…with your help now at the end of the year… we can continue our necessary work. We thank You for Your support.
Have a Wonderful Holiday!
Deborah S. Sigmund
A note from our friends at the Ninos de Cristo Orphanage in the Dominican Republic
Innocents at Risk is dedicated to helping prevent children from being trafficked.
On May 3rd, 2007, British girl Madeleine McCann was taken from parent’s hotel room in Portugal. She has never been found.
In 2010, while visiting the Home of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey, Deborah Sigmund Founder of Innocents at Risk- saw this message tied to a post, “Don’t Give Up On Me.” In the name of all missing children worldwide: Let’s not give up on them.
Wendi Adelson: Children Don’t Belong on the Backpage
A child talking about being raped and sold on backpage.com is captured on a fuzzy video. Zooming in closer, we see a thirteen-year-old girl, telling her traumatic story. Hers should not be the only voice speaking out against child trafficking and the venues that make this horrific abuse against children possible. Village Voice Media (VVM) is one such venue; the Adult Section of its website, Backpage.com, is used by traffickers to facilitate child sex trafficking. VVM should immediately take this web platform out of the hands of those who buy and sell children. As a society, we must shun the attitude that there will always be a website selling underage girls and that shutting down Backpage only creates a hole to be filled. The message to VVM should be clear: no website will be tolerated that allows children to be trafficked.
Photo from Innocents at Risk’s second visit to Nios de Cristo
Sen. Rubio: We are ‘obligated’ to shame Village Voice Media
IAR in the Twitter-sphere
5th Humanitarian Mission to the Dominican Republic
Mission Trip Dates: July 12th – 16th, 2012
Friends and Supports of Innocents at Risk,
From July 12th to July 16th, Innocents at Risk will be hosting its fifth trip to the Dominican Republic to aid the children of the orphanage, Ninos de Cristo. The orphanage houses more than 180 children who have been abandoned, abused and often trafficked. Please help us by coming on the trip or making a donation to support the mission.
Please click on the attachments to learn more!
Cocktails for Charity with Innocents at Risk In partnership with DC Stop Modern Slavery
Thursday, July 26, 2012
6:30 – 9:00 PM
3251 Prospect Street, NW, Washington, DC
Open Bar, Hor d’Ouevres, DJ and Dancing!
SAVE THE DATE! DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk
Innocents at Risk in partnership with DC Stop Modern Slavery
DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk
September 29, 2012
When you register, select ‘Join a team’ then select ‘Innocents at Risk’
2012 Trafficking in Persons Report to be Released June 19
On June 19th, 2012, Innocents at Risk was invited by the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to attend the release of the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report at the US Department of State. According to Secretary of State Clinton, all the survivors and current victims of human trafficking are “living, breathing reminders that our work to end modern day slavery is still unfinished.” Secretary of State Clinton presented awards to ten remarkable individuals working overseas (from Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Cambodia, Republic of Congo, Greece, Israel, Italy, and Mauritania) who have made outstanding achievements working to stop human trafficking (modern day slavery). As Secretary of State Clinton said, these individuals are “courageous and passionate” in the fight against modern day slavery. Furthermore, Secretary of State Clinton made a very important point that this is not just a report but also a reminder “of the cost of a human life.”
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Director of the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and his staff, have done tremendous work in compiling the 2012 TIP report in addition to constantly fighting the battle against modern day slavery. Ambassador CdeBaca reported that 29 countries have gone up in their tier rating in the past year! This is exciting news, as countries are getting involved in fighting this terrific evil. While we have and continue to make great strides against these types of crimes, it is still essential to continue in this battle. According to Ambassador CdeBaca, “constructive collaborations” are necessary in combating these horrendous crimes. Additionally, we must not forget that the victims and survivors of modern day slavery are real people, “people with names…remember their names”.
Awareness is essential to putting an end to modern day slavery. Innocents at Risk is dedicated to continuing awareness outreach in order to protect the lives of women and children all over the globe. Raimi Vincent Paraiso, TIP Award winner from the Republic of Congo, said, “individual actions have tremendous impact.” So thank you friends, for all of your support for Innocents at Risk. In the words of Raimi Vincent Paraiso, “I hope we can work together to build a better future for all children of the world.”
Embassy of Kingdom of the Netherlands Invitation
Innocents at Risk attended this important event on May 9, 2012.
The Impact of Media on the Health & Well-Being of Children
A syposium addressing the cognitive, social & emotional impact of media on children’s lives.
Innocents at Risk and Airline Ambassadors were recognized at this Department of Homeland Security Event for being the driving force behind “Blue Lightning.” Our Flight Attendant Initiative is now DHS Backed!
January 12, 2011
Dear Friends of Innocents at Risk:
Yesterday Innocents at Risk was invited to attend the DHS Blue Campaign Anti-Trafficking Stakeholder Event in recognition of January 11th Human Trafficking Awareness Day. It was an exciting event where Alice Hill, Chief Counsel to Secretary Janet Napolitano, announced the details of an expansion of the Blue Campaign to include partnerships with each Government Agency. Working with Secretary Raymond LaHood and the Department of Transportation, a comprehensive training program is in effect to train all airline personnel and everyone involved in any form of transportation of people, which includes trains and truckers, to recognize the signs of Human Trafficking and a protocol to report it.
Most importantly, the DHS Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, David Aguilar announced that the Blue Lightning Initiative is now in place. This is the program that Innocents at Risk and Senior AA Flight Attendant, Sandra Fiorini, began with CBP, ICE, the FBI, EPACT and Polaris in 2008. The original purpose of Blue Lightning was to elevate our Flight Attendant Initiative to a DHS Government supported initiative.
In 2009, Deborah Sigmund and Innocents at Risk partnered with Nancy Rivard and Airline Ambassadors to expand the Flight Attendant Initiative and lobbied to get additional support from DHS. Since 2008, with the training from Innocents at Risk, Flight Attendants and Airline Ambassadors have reported situations on planes and in airports of individuals or children who appeared to be in a situation of trafficking to the authorities. When reported, the plane was met by CBP, ICE and the FBI and we have had great success in saving Innocent Lives. With Blue Lightning in place, the successes will only increase as a result of all Government Agencies involved an actual DHS-backed Initiative. Deputy Commissioner, David Aguilar, recognized Nancy Rivard and Deborah Sigmund as being the driving force behind the Blue Lightning Initiative and referred to us and the Flight Attendants as CBP’s “Boots in the Air” and “The enablers”. It was a great moment for Innocents at Risk and Airline Ambassadors. We are very proud of our efforts as well as our close Partnership with DHS and the Department of Transportation.
In addition, DHS will provide training material and DVDs for the Blue Lightning Initiative which can be down loaded from our website. It is a tremendous support system that is now in place which will enable us to provide online training to Flight Attendants and individuals. This will help us expand much needed public awareness and turn a million eyes on the issue which will save lives.
Another very significant announcement yesterday from the DHS Director of the Office of Health Affairs, Dr. Alexander Garza is the plan to train all emergency medical personnel. Emergency room and 911 operators are in an excellent position to identify a possible victim of trafficking and to report it, again saving a life. For additional information and the complete Blue Campaign program of yesterday you may visit our website or the DHS website http://www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking!!
Deborah Sigmund congratulated Alice Hill and DHS yesterday for their exceptional comprehensive initiative to combat and hopefully eliminate Human Trafficking! It was a great day, but our work has just begun. We hope we can count on each of you to get involved. Go on the website to see the general training information and keep your eyes open while traveling and in public places such as malls, theme parks, and anywhere children may be. Your support is also needed to help us produce training materials and get them in the hands of all airline employees. Currently we are working with all US carriers, Air Canada, Aero Mexico and South African Airlines. Working with DHS, we will expand to other carriers. With your help we can keep educating flight attendants and the general public and keep saving lives.
Thank you for your support and Happy New Year!!
Anti-sex trafficking in Virginia: Sign Petition to enact a law prohibiting human trafficking for the sex industry.
Despite the widespread belief that sex trafficking is exclusively an international problem, domestic trafficking has increased dramatically in recent years. Today, Virginia is the fastest-growing destination for individuals who have been forced into prostitution. While the Commonwealth of Virginia has enacted legislation to protect individuals from being trafficked into the state as laborers, current statutes do not address the thousands of women and children who are forced into prostitution within the boundaries of Virginia. In order to combat the growing problem and protect those who suffer from its effects, Virginia must take an active stand against sex trafficking. Beyond making sure that the state becomes a leader in this global battle, we need to raise awareness among all Americans and send the message that sex trafficking is an intolerable and unconscionable crime against human beings everywhere.
Obama declares human trafficking prevention month
USA Today, by David Jackson
December 30, 2011
President Obama is declaring January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“We stand with all those who are held in compelled service,” Obama wrote in a proclamation issued today. “We recognize the people, organizations and government entities that are working to combat human trafficking; and we recommit to bringing an end to this inexcusable human rights abuse.”
2011 Year-End Letter from Innocents at Risk’s Founder
Since 2005, Innocents at Risk has been dedicated to fighting child exploitation and human trafficking. The phenomenon of child sex trafficking is not comprised of a few isolated acts of horror. It is a multi-billion dollar industry – the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Each year, more than two million children are taken to be traded in a modern day human slavery market.
Innocents at Risk has created partnerships with Government agencies, Embassies, corporations, the private sector and the media to stimulate awareness. Our successful flight attendant initiative and our partnership with Airline Ambassadors, is arming flight attendants with the knowledge to help women and children be diverted from a destination of slavery. Our work is making a tangible difference, but in order to continue we need your help!
Most people never suspect that human trafficking is a risk; they think, it could never happen here. The sad truth is child trafficking happens in every city and county across the United States. Over 300,000 children are trafficked within the U.S. each year as a result of a lack of awareness. At Innocents at Risk we believe that AWARENESS IS PREVENTION, and that by educating the public we can help save these lives.
In 2012 Innocents at Risk will continue to expand our national campaign by taking it to schools throughout the country. We will organize child and teenage-friendly speaking engagements to educate boys and girls on the issue of human trafficking and how they can protect themselves from traffickers.
The human trafficking market is growing every day, and so must we. In 2012, we will raise desperately needed awareness for a vital cause. We are asking you for a contribution to help us reach our goal of $300,000 to produce educational training materials for this campaign. We need your support to turn a million eyes to this issue. With your support, we can keep saving lives.
Deborah S. Sigmund
Innocents at Risk 2011 Events Press Coverage
Innocents At Risk Conjures Up Old Havana
Innocents At Risk and Airline Ambassadors hosted a Standup For Children Gala: An Evening in Old Havana on Oct. 19 at The Mayflower Hotel, which hails itself as “Washington’s Second Best Address.” Mike Walter emceed the program which included a video produced by Innocents At Risk, the internationally recognized nonprofit to stop the scourge of human trafficking founded by Deborah Sigmund in 2005. The evening was co-chaired by Nancy Rivard, who in 2009 brought additional support from Airline Ambassadors. Gabriela Ferrer and members of The Miami Sound Machine opened their performance with “How Can You Take Something that Does not Belong to You?”
Watch This Video About Innocents At Risk:
Innocents at Risk Newsletter End Of Year Update
Dear Friends and Supporters,
On behalf of all of us at Innocents at Risk, thank you for your continued support throughout 2010. It has been an eventful year with commendable support. We have successfully expanded our awareness/prevention campaign throughout the United States with our flight attendant initiative and training programs. In addition, Innocents at Risk was asked in March to speak at a Congressional hearing to the Thomas Lantos Human Rights Commission about our flight attendant initiative. With support from members of Congress, such as Congressman Chris Smith, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman James McGovern, Congressman Joe Pitts, as well as others, we have been able to gain the much-needed attention of the major airlines.
In September, His Excellency, Gary Doer, the Ambassador of Canada, hosted “An Evening To Benefit Innocents At Risk” at the beautiful Embassy of Canada. Air Canada joined us as we honored Secretary Janet Napolitano and our partnership with the Department of Homeland Security.
Furthermore, we would like to thank American Airlines for coming forward and supporting our flight attendant initiative in 2010. Working in partnership with American Airlines, flight attendants/airline personnel and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), we were able to save precious, innocent lives. To date, in partnership with Airline Ambassadors, we have over 1,000 trained flight attendants working on protecting children, and we look forward to collaborating with many more airlines. Through dedicated support and cooperation of embassies, we have the support of Air Canada and Aero Mexico.
With your year-end support, you can help us continue to protect women and children by expanding awareness campaigns to schools, corporations, and the general public. Unfortunately, very few people realize that selling children around the world, including the United States, is an over $32 billion annual industry. Please help us end this horror and protect those most innocent…OUR CHILDREN. Awareness is vital and absolutely paramount.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas.
Canadian Ambassador: “Slavery Is Not Dead”
The ambassadors of Canada, Sweden, and Mexico weigh in on human trafficking with Innocents at Risk founder Deborah Sigmund and DC Housewife Lynda Erkiletian at the Canadian Embassy.
Innocents at Risk in BISNOW’s The Scene
|Innocents at Risk!|
We stopped by the Embassy of Canada for the Innocents at Risk VIP reception to recognize those who are taking steps to end human trafficking on land and in the air. RCMP officer from Ottawa, Charlene Rivet, is here with Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer and Innocents at Risk founder Deborah Sigmund.
All guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and received blue human trafficking awareness bracelets. APFA Prez Laura Glading, American Airlines flight services VP Denise Lynn, MSCI’s VP Cynthia Turner, and Airline Ambassadors founder Nancy Rivard.
2010 Trafficking in Persons Report
This morning, June 14, Innocents at Risk attended a special meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to present the 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report. It was encouraging to hear from the Secretary’s remarks how far we have come in ten years, and how much we still must achieve to eliminate modern day slavery. Secretary Clinton has made the fight to end modern day slavery a priority and emphasized that if the US Government, Congress, foreign governments and the NGO community can work together, we can end the global scourge of human trafficking.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Deborah Sigmund with Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
July 1st Congressional Briefing
Representative James Oberstar, the Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Representative Christopher Smith hosted a closed briefing on Capitol Hill, July 1st, between 2:30 and 5pm in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Meeting Room South to bring together U.S. airline executives and representatives, the Federal Aviation Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICA), the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office (G/Tip), and other gatekeepers. ICE and G/TIP gave presentations on the scope of the problem and law enforcement response. Airline Ambassadors and Innocents at Risk unveiled a prototype for the training manuals, flight bulletins, and brochures. The briefing was a major success! We were honored to be invited, and hope that this will lead to major progress in the future towards incorporating human trafficking information into the regular governmental training of flight attendants.
Deborah Sigmund with Congressman Chris Smith (left) and Congressman Joe Pitts (right)
Check out the rest of the photos here!