“Hey beautiful.” “Thought you were cool.” “Leave and I’ll find you.” They’re things sex traffickers say online to lure, challenge, and threaten victims. And for thousands of people in and around downtown Dallas Wednesday, they were written in the sky—to raise awareness and help fight a growing national problem.
The “SkyTrafficking” messages were created for The Jensen Project, a Dallas-based leading funding organization in the anti-human trafficking effort. The same messages appeared Tuesday in the skies above downtown Houston.
To create the cryptic and provocative messages, the nonprofit researched “grooming techniques” sex traffickers typically use during social media chats with prospective victims.
“Traffickers have migrated online to recruit women and young girls in private,” The Jensen Project writes on its website. “So we made their DMs public by writing them in the sky. The first step to stopping sex trafficking is being able to spot it.”
‘Shining a light’ on a ‘horrific reality’—and awarding up to $2M to fight it this year
“We must confront the horrific reality we face: Sex trafficking is happening in cities and states across the U.S.,”Janet Jensen, founder and CEO of The Jensen Project, said in a statement. “The sky trafficking campaign shines a light on how sex traffickers groom and trap victims. It can happen to anyone—and that’s why The Jensen Project continues to support organizations doing the work on the ground to care for survivors after they escape ‘the life’ of sex trafficking.”
Jensen—a philanthropist who the organization says is a sexual assault survivor herself—says The Jensen Project has committed “up to $2 million” in 2023 to organizations who serve sex trafficking survivors.” The funding will be awarded by the project’s GrantTank program to organizations across the U.S., with recipients to be announced in July, the Jensen Project said.
A serious problem in both Dallas and Texas
The organization cited research by the National Human Trafficking Hotline that shows Texas has the second highest number of reported human trafficking cases in the U.S., and that Dallas is one of the top 10 cities for sex trafficking in the nation. The issue is plaguing communities across the country as well.
Exacerbated by social media
Social media and other digital platforms have only escalated the problem in recent years, The Jensen Project said. Since 2000, 55% of luring by sex traffickers has taken place not in person but on online platforms. In 2020, recruiting increased an average of 120% across two leading social media channels.
To help fight sexual violence and sex trafficking, The Jensen Project says it works to raise awareness while providing funding to organizations with the same mission. The organization noted that its GrantTank program will be distributing the awards of up to $2 million in total this July.
2022 GrantTank recipients, and how to donate
The Jensen Project says the application window has closed for its 2023 GrantTank recipients. Grants range from $100,000 to $500,000, depending on the need expressed and the individual grant extended. Requested funding may be awarded during a single-year or two-year period.
To see last year’s GrantTank recipients, you can go here. To learn information required from GrantTank applicants, you can go here.
To make a donation or learn more about The Jensen Project and its “SkyTrafficking” campaign, you can go here.
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