The McCain Institute’s Combatting Human Trafficking Program educates, raises awareness and implements innovative, action-based solutions to end modern slavery. Through collaborative partnerships, critical research and direct engagement with innovative programs, the Institute connects and convenes stakeholders to find strategies to combat human trafficking at local, state, national and international levels.

“The work of the McCain Institute is extraordinary, and it is having a direct impact in the fight to end human trafficking in the United States. As a member of the Human Trafficking Advisory Council, I am honored to contribute to help combat human trafficking on behalf of victims in the United States and worldwide.”

– Ernie Allen, Advisory Council Member and former President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children


Collaborative Partnerships

Partnering with civil society organizations, academic institutions and businesses is a staple of the Human Trafficking Program.

Google, Demand Abolition and the McCain Institute are collaborating on a National Attorney General’s Guidebook. The guidebook for attorneys general and prosecutors provides case studies, research and policies to advance the most effective strategies for prosecuting buyers.

 In collaboration with Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Institute also partners with Uber in the Desert Region to help drivers identify potential human trafficking situations. Online resources made available to drivers include: tips on what human trafficking looks like, mobile messaging and a driver-partner’s resource web page.

The McCain Institute and Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children partnered to develop a tool to help law enforcement personnel identify minors trapped in sex trafficking situations. This tool, called Spotlight, sorts through large amounts of online data using smart algorithms to prioritize cases, elevate high-risk individuals and significantly reduce investigative time for officers in all 50 states and internationally.

The McCain Institute and the Sports Integrity Global Alliance recently launched a partnership to explore ways to stop the trafficking of children in international sporting events in various forms, such as: trafficking to play sports, trafficking to sporting events to be sold for sex and trafficking in the creation of sporting stadiums.


Critical Research

The McCain Institute is committed to supporting rigorous research to inform national and international stakeholders and to developing solutions to combat trafficking.

Working with a team of seasoned academics, the McCain Institute is supporting a National Prevalence Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, a pilot study to produce an estimate of the population of victims subject to domestic minor sex trafficking. The study will employ a multi-methodological approach in three areas: an urban study, a rural study and a data collection component.

The Institute also partners with the Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research (STIR) in Arizona State University’s School of Social Work to produce original research and analysis to assess the scale and scope of human trafficking. A new report by Arizona State University exposes the difficulty in prosecuting sex traffickers in Las Vegas. Working with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the STIR office examined 159 cases from 2014. The report highlights the violent nature of sex trafficking and the vulnerability of the victims.

In partnership with Demand Abolition and STIR, the Institute sets out to interrupt sex buying through a billboard campaign to reduce demand. Before the end of the two-year challenge, the city of Phoenix reached 120% of the original goal by intervening with 34,560 buyers and reducing the intent to purchase sex online by 18 percent.

The Institute also provide research and technical support to the Arizona governor’s Human Trafficking Council. The council has been responsible for enacting new legislation to fight human trafficking and protecting victims in the state of Arizona.


Innovative Programs

The McCain Institute supports a variety of innovative programs that fill the gaps in the fight against human trafficking.

In cooperation with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Institute recently launched a multi-disciplinary effort to address forced labor in the agricultural sector by supporting a justice system capable of effectively, fairly and efficiently handling labor trafficking cases; protecting labor trafficking victims; and addressing the root causes of labor exploitation. The initiative will mirror the “4P” paradigm (the established international framework to combat human trafficking) and will include a best-in-class comprehensive effort to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, prevent trafficking and promote partnerships to achieve progress across the other three P’s. The initiative will launch as a pilot program in Texas.

The Human Trafficking Conversation Series convenes experts to address and raise public awareness of distinct aspects of human trafficking; since 2014, there have been 8 conversations. The McCain Institute has also hosted two Human Trafficking Symposiums consisting of daylong events with action-oriented breakout sessions and panel discussions from leading experts and congressional leaders. Up to 200 people attend each event, with approximately 300 watching via live-stream. More topics are planned for fall 2017.

The Institute sponsors the Student Alliance Against Trafficking to raise awareness of human trafficking on college campuses. Each chapter hosts Trafficking Awareness weeks in January and discusses the results as a collective group in February. Awareness weeks were hosted at 16 universities in six states in 2017.

Finally, the Human Trafficking Advisory Council, a diverse group of civil society and business leaders, activists and survivors, help guide the strategic direction of the Institute’s anti-trafficking programs.