(October 2013 – August 2016)
Since 2001, USAID has implemented C-TIP programs in more than 68 countries. Despite the complexity of the crime and efforts by many national and international organizations to eliminate it, there is limited research on the nature and extent of human trafficking, its underlying dynamics, and the effectiveness of C-TIP programs. Through three Research and Innovation Grants, research teams led by Texas Christian University, the University of Southern California, and Vanderbilt University implemented public opinion surveys in USAID priority countries for C-TIP programming, generating data to inform the design of programs to raise awareness about trafficking among vulnerable populations and to influence knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to trafficking.
Texas Christian University - Gauging Public Opinion on Human Trafficking in Moldova and Albania: Employing Survey Experimentation to Inform Effective Prevention and Awareness Programs
University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism - Assessing Changes in Attitudes, Awareness, and Behavior among Indonesian Youth: A Multi-Method Communication and Social Media Approach
Vanderbilt University - Human Trafficking Vulnerability: An Experimental Intervention Using Mass Media to Change Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Practices in Nepal
Texas Christian University
Grant Title: Gauging Public Opinion on Human Trafficking in Moldova and Albania: Employing Survey Experimentation to Inform Effective Prevention and Awareness Programs
Grant Period: August 2013 – August 2015
- Ekaterina Botchkovar, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University
- Vanessa Bouché, Political Science, Texas Christian University
- Amy Farrell, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University
- Dana Whittmer, Political Science, Colorado College
The TCU research team developed and fielded a nationally representative survey experiment in Albania and Moldova to assess what average citizens in both countries currently know about human trafficking and how counter-trafficking messaging could most effectively be framed. The research conducted in both countries focused on two primary objectives: 1) to establish a baseline of public opinion about human trafficking in each country, and 2) to analyze these data to provide information that can support the development of more strategic C-TIP prevention and protection programs by understanding what could drive people in each country to take personal action against trafficking and to support governmental action. In addition, the survey also explored how issue framing and messaging affects public concern for and involvement in C-TIP efforts. Key findings include:
- In both Albania and Moldova, more politically engaged citizens demonstrated greater knowledge about human trafficking but were less likely to consider it a top priority for the government to address
- In both Albania and Moldova, citizens demonstrated more knowledge of sex trafficking than labor trafficking, and were significantly less likely to think that men or boys could be vulnerable to any form of trafficking—indicating that messaging should help broaden the public definition of trafficking and awareness of who is vulnerable.
- Through an experiment possible in Albania, where a USAID-funded counter-trafficking program had produced short video postcards about trafficking, the research suggests that messaging that both presents information about trafficking and provides citizens with concrete next steps to protect themselves and their families may be a simple, effective way to promote behaviors that could limit trafficking vulnerability.
Research Report: Gauging Public Opinion on Human Trafficking in Moldova and Albania: Employing Survey Experimentation to Inform Effective Prevention and Awareness Programs
University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism
Grant Title: Assessing Changes in Attitudes, Awareness, and Behavior among Indonesian Youth: A Multi-Method Communication and Social Media Approach
Grant Period: October 2013 – September 2014
- Mark Latonero, Communications, USC
- Sheila Murphy, Communications, USC
- Patricia Riley, Communications, USC
- Prawit Thainiyom, Communications, USC
The USC team’s research in Indonesia included two components: a public opinion survey and an analysis of social media, both implemented in 2014. The public opinion survey was administered in Indramayu, West Java, Indonesia, a district with more than 1.77 million people that is a “hot spot” for human trafficking. USC administered the survey twice, with 527 participants; between the first and second wave, 319 of the participants watched an MTV Exit documentary on Indonesians’ experiences with human trafficking. USC conducted the social media assessment from May to July 2014, searching Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in Indonesia for posts containing one or more of seven key words that would indicate that a post was about human trafficking. Key findings include:
- The MTV Exit documentary on Indonesians’ experience with human trafficking had limited effects on increasing the viewers’ knowledge of trafficking, awareness of vulnerability to trafficking, or intention to reduce vulnerability—suggesting that awareness-raising materials should be pretested to ensure that messages are compelling for and relevant to the target community.
- Face-to-face engagement and discussion were the most effective ways to decrease misconceptions about human trafficking, trafficking vulnerability, and effective risk reduction.
- Although there clearly were social media conversations about and activism around human trafficking in Indonesia, USC found no evidence of activists using Twitter to organize or augment a strategic advocacy campaign, so it may be useful to consider how activists in other countries in the region have used social media to disseminate information or build and leverage networks for collective action and social change.
Research Report: Assessing Changes in Attitudes, Awareness, and Behavior in Indonesian Youths: A Multi-Method Communication and Social Media Approach
Grant Title: Reducing Vulnerability to Human Trafficking: An Experimental Intervention Using Anti-Trafficking Campaigns to Change Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Practices in Nepal
Grant Period: July 2013 – March 2016
- Cecilia Mo, Political Science, VU
- Margaret Boittin, Political Science, Stanford University Partner: Dan Archer, Empathetic Media
The Vanderbilt team conducted a series of randomized controlled trials in Nepal to determine the effectiveness of various types of mass media campaigns designed to raise C-TIP awareness. The researchers developed, tested, and then randomly assigned different types of C-TIP messaging to survey participants, varying by format (a fact-based poster, and narrative graphic novels, radio, and audio-visual treatments). Within the narratives, the research team also varied the message type (empowerment versus fear-based stories). Study participants also were randomly assigned to experience the messages either individually, or in groups that allow for community-level deliberation. The research was conducted in 160 communities across Nepal, and included two full rounds of treatment to gauge long-term effects; the research is continuing for a third round in Nepal and expanding into China, with support from the US Department of Labor. Key findings include:
- All forms of media increase 1) general knowledge about human trafficking, including the perception that boys and men are also vulnerable, and 2) the ability of respondents to self-identify as victims of trafficking and to recognize trafficking situations that have affected family and friends. The media campaigns also increased respondents’ sense of urgency about trafficking in Nepal and stated commitment to act to address trafficking. They even increased actual actions to prevent trafficking: exposure to a mass media campaign almost doubled the percentage of respondents who mailed a postcard with an anti-trafficking message to the Government of Nepal (from 5.9% to 10.2%).
- Despite increases in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices, the media campaigns did not increase respondents’ awareness about the prevalence of human trafficking in their own communities. This finding is cause for concern: if respondents believe their community is exceptional or immune to the push and pull factors of human trafficking, and do not believe that human trafficking is an issue in their community, they may be more likely to overlook it when it does actually manifest itself.
- There were several differences in effects among the various forms of media: overall, narratives were more effective than the informational poster. In addition, empowerment narratives were more effective than fear-based narratives. There were no consistent differences among the three narrative formats (graphic novel, radio, audio-visual), suggesting a policy preference for use of radio narratives in a country such as Nepal, where radio is widely accessed and is most affordable from a production and dissemination perspective.
Research Report: Reducing Vulnerability to Human Trafficking: An Experimental Intervention Using Anti-Trafficking Campaigns to Change Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Practices in Nepal