Human trafficking: Five things to know

Posted on August 20, 2014

It may seem like human trafficking is something that only happens in other places across the globe. The truth is, it’s happening much closer than we think—possibly to children in, and from, our communities.

Urban Strategies is committed to working with you, your neighborhood, and community to ensure our most vulnerable have access to resources for better and healthier lifestyles.

Read on for five key facts on human trafficking and how you can help make a difference—today.

Fact One: There are two types of human trafficking happening in the U.S.

The United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines human trafficking as the exploitation of one human being by another, for personal or financial gain. There are two types of trafficking: trafficking for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation sex and labor trafficking.

Sex trafficking involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for a commercial sex act, which is induced by force, fraud, or coercion. Sometimes, these victims are younger than 18.

The second type of trafficking is labor trafficking. It also involves recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person, but for labor or services. It usually happens through force or fraud and results in involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

Fact Two: Human trafficking occurs in legal and illegal industries.

According to the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report:
“Trafficking can occur in many licit and illicit industries or markets, including in brothels, massage parlors, street prostitution, hotel services, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, health and elder care, and domestic service.”

Fact Three: Vulnerable child populations are at a higher risk of becoming trafficking victims.

From north to south, east to west, human trafficking is a crime plaguing our country and some of the most vulnerable victims being trafficked are, our children. Reports show that, overwhelmingly, children who are runaways, in the foster care system or on welfare are the most vulnerable.

Fact Four: Child trafficking is happening in our backyard.

Since 2003 over 2,100 child victims have been recovered through the FBI’s Innocent Lost Operation. In July 2012, 79 child victims were recovered, and over 100 traffickers arrested, during that same operation.

Although most cases of child trafficking have been identified as sex trafficking, children have sometimes been exploited for labor*. Some of the Federal U.S. cases include:

    • Children being trafficked to work 14-hour days braiding hair in salons in New Jersey;
    • A 10-year-old girl who was forced to do housework 16 hours a day without payment in the state of California; and
    • The MS-13 gang exploiting a 12-year-old runaway for commercial sex in Virginia.

Trafficking of children can happen in any setting across the country, be it rural or urban, although at risk populations for human trafficking tend to come from impoverished and vulnerable communities — in particular, runaways and foster care youth. However, there has also been an increase in victims of trafficking in the affluent suburbs of the US.

At-risk populations include children who have suffered abuse or neglect at home. These children are more vulnerable to being trafficked then children who came from a home with a strong family nucleus.

In a report by the California Child Welfare Council, 50% to 80% of commercially sexually exploited victims were in the child welfare system. In Connecticut, a report from the Department of Children and Families found 86 out of 88 children involved in sex trafficked had also been part of the child welfare system. Children in the welfare system are at increased risk of being trafficked.

* Source: US DHHS Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) Guidance to States and Services on Addressing Human Trafficking of Children and Youth in the United Sates

Fact Five: You can make a difference.

Some of the practical ways community members can protect their children are:

    • Be aware – Human trafficking is happening everywhere. Look at the resources below to see how you can help raise awareness about this issue in your local community.
    • Be alert – Report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement or child protective services.
    • Be engaged – Engage with your local or state task force to see how you can be part of combatting trafficking.

For more information and resources on combatting human trafficking please see:

A Chance To Be Heard: 2014 NAHF Survey

Posted on June 18, 2014

Five years ago, the National Alliance for Hispanic Families set out to pursue a three-fold mission: promote and advance policies that strengthen and support Hispanic families; develop research that drives relevant policy; and expand and enhance the services of Hispanic serving community and faith-based organizations.

Since setting our sights on this mission, much has been accomplished. For example, we conducted a 10-city listening tour that showcased the work of Hispanic-serving community and faith-based organizations. We developed and completed a national training and technical assistance initiative to build the capacity of organizations serving the most vulnerable. We developed several ground breaking reports that shed light on policies that produce funding inequities. And through tenacious efforts, we successfully advocated for the newly launched Center for Research on Hispanic Children and Families.

As the newly named President of the Alliance, I am committed to building on the successes of our past and am confident that our best is yet to come! As we stake out our future and update our strategic plan, we want to hear from you. We want to ensure that our efforts address the challenges and opportunities faced by Hispanic-serving organizations. We want to learn how we can best serve the front-line heroes and heroines who tirelessly work to help our communities realize their potential.

To this end, please take a few minutes to complete the 2014 NAHF Survey that can be found here. Your input and feedback will be critically important as we set the future direction for the Alliance.

Thank you in advance for your help and for all that you do to serve our Latino families.

Yvette Sanchez Fuentes

College apps and special opps: Too late? Not yet!

Posted on May 6, 2014

Just when you thought all the deadlines were gone

Southwest and HACU team up to offer ¡Lánzate! / Take Off! Travel Award

Here’s an exciting update: Fun-loving Southwest Airlines is joining with Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to offer their annual ¡Lánzate! /Take Off! Travel Award Program.

For students taking the bold step of attending school far from home, this program can play a huge role in staying connected to family. But don’t delay – apply today! Postmark deadline is May 15.

Still haven’t applied for school? Lucky for you, there’s still (a little) time

As far as college applications go, time is nearly up.

But for many colleges and universities, according to, they’re still accepting applications. Go to > Member Colleges > Search for Colleges and check “Fall 2014” and enter a date in the near future (say, June 1). For schools that show up, they’re probably still taking applications.

So what are you waiting for? That dream is still there, but only if you go after it. ¡Adelante!

Latinos: Caregivers for our Viejitos (Elderly)

Posted on January 22, 2014

When President Obama and his family moved in the White House, Michelle Obama’s mother moved in with them.  While the media seemed to find this extended family live-in situation odd, for many of us, this felt very Latino.  In our family-centered culture, the model of extended families living together or in close proximity, with grandparents helping to care for their children’s children and then being taken care of themselves as they needed assistance in old age, is still the desired model for Hispanics.  But as we advance in our careers and raise children to maximize their potential, the continuation of this tradition can be more challenging than in the past.

A recent survey by revealed that most family caregivers are deeply impacted by the financial and emotional cost of caring for their loved ones. This impact is being felt by more and more Hispanics as our 65 age and older family members are projected to be the largest racial/ethnic group by the year 2019 (Administration of Aging.)

National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) President and CEO Dr. Yanira Cruz, states that our countries paradigm for supporting the elderly will have to change, highlighting that our world population will have more adults than young people. She emphasizes that we must begin exploring innovations that will assure that in 20 or 30 years, older adults will be able to age with dignity and enjoy their golden years.  ”We’re living longer thanks to the advances of medicine but with that we   have a lot of changes coming.”

Click here for full article:

Latino College Students: Entering but not Finishing

Posted on November 12, 2013

A recent report issued by the Campaign for College Opportunity found that while Latino students are enrolling in colleges at record rates, an abysmal number of students earn a degree or certificate.    While the students have very high aspirations for education, they find themselves entering college academically unprepared.  In California, only three in 10 Latino high school students complete the college prerequisites and aren’t ready for college-level math and English.  Many, as a result, are placed in remedial classes that are often precursors to not completing college.

Recognizing the economic impact that these trends present, the  report provides a number of recommendations, including those that call for coordination between K-12 systems and higher education systems.  Click to download full report: StateofHigherEducationLatino

New Report: Drugs Stealing Our Future

Posted on September 4, 2013

It’s the first day of school.  There’s both excitement and anxiety in the air – for both teachers and students alike.   As the teacher starts his class, a young 8th grade girl falls out of her chair. She didn’t fall out of her chair because she was sleepy or someone pushed her.  She fell out of her chair because she was high on drugs.  This is a true story that was experienced at a middle school just a few days ago, and unfortunately, it’s a story that is transpiring with more and more frequency in our country.

A recent study completed by the Partnership at Drug Free has revealed a change in drug and alcohol abuse among teens, grades 9-12. For the past decade, use has seen a steady decline. After 2008, however, the trend has reversed and use of marijuana has increased significantly. Alarming is the fact that Latino teens are abusing substances more than teens of any other ethnic group.

Our teens are 40% more likely to use illicit drugs than Caucasian teens and 30% more likely than African American teens. Since 2008, past year use of any illicit drug for Hispanic teens has increased by 20%.   50% of our youth have tried marijuana in the past year.  15% have tried ecstasy, and 12% have tried crack cocaine. These numbers are significantly higher than the numbers for their African American and Caucasian counterparts.

When it comes to friends, the numbers show that our children are more likely to have friends who have done drugs, as well. 77% of Hispanic teens report that they have friends who have done marijuana.  This is high than the rates for Whites and Blacks, which are 68% and 69% respectively. For ecstasy, this gap widens considerably.  46% of our kids say they know a friend who does ecstasy. Only 28% of whites, and 29% of black teens can say the same.

Attitudes towards drug abuse are also noticeably different than with other racial groups. Only slightly above half of Hispanic teens say they are ‘scared to use drugs’ compared 62% of Caucasian teens. According to CNN, there may be a reason for this as Hispanic parents are more likely to allow their teens to do drugs such as Marijuana, than White or Black parents.  21% of the parents in our community say they are okay with allowing their teen to smoke marijuana, compared to 11% of African American parents, and only 6% of Caucasian parents.

So why are the numbers significantly skewed for our teens? Researchers are not quite sure. Their research has shown that Latino parents are more likely to talk with their teens about drug use, than other parents. This seems to indicate that talks alone are not enough to prevent drug use. And the numbers back that up.  As a whole, we are less likely to ask about our teens’ days, enforces rules when they are broken, or monitor every day activities.

So what can be done?  At an individual level, encourage parents to continue their discussions with their children about the dangers of substance abuse.   Organizationally, look for ways to initiate and expand culturally relevant programs that engage whole families.  Systemically, work with the National Alliance for Hispanic Families to call on resources to be directed to organizations who best understand, and can best serve, our Latino youth.

For more information on this report, go to the  Drug Free website  - Spanish version is available  here.

Mental Health Among Hispanic Youth

Posted on July 30, 2013

In a series of recent studies, some unknown realities of Hispanic youth have come to light. The studies expose some dire statistics about the mental health of our youth.

One such survey was the 2012 CDC report which indicates that teenage Latinas are more likely to attempt suicide (13.5%) compared to other teenage females (8.8% for non-Hispanic blacks, and 7.9 for non-Hispanic whites). According to Dr. Rosa Gil of Comunilife, some 17% of Latinas in New York City are actively considering suicide.

Another study says that Latina teens are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide after being bullied.

Numbers such as these are not only shocking, but heartbreaking for our community. Many experts believe that our teens are facing such high tendencies due to many reasons. For instance, some suggest that teens from migrant families have a hard time readjusting to a new culture, and feel isolated, thus contributing to the numbers.

Perhaps the hardest obstacles to overcome are the stigma of mental illness among Latinos, as well as the lack of access to appropriate medical resources. The New York State Psychiatric Institute has found that Latinos are more likely to seek help from friends or clergy, than professionals, compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Those who do seek professional help often have a hard time getting access to mental health specialists, due to the shortage of bilingual and bicultural professionals and deficiencies in culturally sensitive services.

In short, this is an issue that deeply impacts our community, though there is a stigma as well as limited awareness.  It is an issue that needs to be addressed, and thankfully several groups in our community are leading the charge to bring awareness of mental health issues to Latinos across the U.S.

To learn more about one group is doing to raise awareness, visit here.

Latinos Make Strides in Education

Posted on July 16, 2013

After years of lagging behind other Americans in education, Latinos have recently begun to significantly narrow that gap, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. In 2012 we passed a milestone, with new Hispanic high school students being more likely to go directly to college than their white counterparts. This is just one of many strides the Latino community has made in education, over the last decade.

Latinos have not only increased their college enrollment, they have also decreased the dropout rate among high school students. In 2000, the dropout rate was 28% among high school students; by 2012 it decreased to half that level at 14%. By several other measures, young Latinos have achieved parity with African-Americans in educational attainment.

That being said, Latinos still have many serious disparities. For example, while Latinos are more like to enroll in college than whites, we are less likely to attend four-year universities or go to school full time. And while we are half as likely to drop as in 2000, Hispanics still face the highest dropout rate in the country, among major demographics.  It should also be noted that some have suggested that the increase in education has been due to the poor economic standings Latinos have faced since 2008. In other words, it may be easier for some to go to school longer, than it is for them to find a good job.

However, in the end, these gains are very positive for the Hispanic community in the US. “This is the maturation of a big second generation among Latinos — native born, and educated in American schools,” said Richard Fry, the lead author of the report.


To read the New York Times summary of the report, please click here.
To read the Pew Report in full, please click here.

Hispanic Health Snapshot

Posted on May 30, 2013

Today, more than one in five youth between the ages of 10 and 19 in the United States is Hispanic.  By 2020, that figure will rise to approximately one in four and, by 2040, nearly one in three adolescents will be Hispanic.  The Office of Adolescent Health, in collaboration with the Office of Minority Health, offers a snapshot of how Hispanic adolescents are faring on a range of critical health indicators and provide links to support for the services they may be lacking.

Providing Hispanic adolescents with culturally and linguistically appropriate health services has led to improved quality of care and more positive health outcomes.  There is good news of positive changes in Hispanic health in the areas of health care coverage, teen pregnancy, and earning a high school degree.

Since 1991, the teen birth rate of Hispanics has seen a decline of over 50%.  While they are not the only ethnicity to have good news on this front, their decline in rates were the steepest from 2007-2011, averaging 34%.  The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics released new data that teen births have declined dramatically in nearly all states.

The latest report breaks down teen birth data by states and race and ethnicity from 2007 through 2011.   The overall rate fell 25% in the U.S. –a record low!  There were declines among all ethnic groups.  The rate for Latino teens fell 40% or more in 22 states.  Birth rates declined 20% or more for both non-Hispanic black teens in 34 states and for non-Hispanic white teens in 30 states.

However, along with the good news is still the reality that Hispanic adolescents continue to struggle with disparities related to mental health, substance abuse, and physical activity. Hispanic male and female adolescents were more likely to feel depressed than their black and white peers and they were more likely to have ever tried smoking, to drink alcohol (and to start at a younger age); to drive with someone who had been drinking; and to try cocaine, inhalants, and ecstasy.  Hispanic adolescents face challenges to maintaining a healthy weight.   Rates of obesity are higher for Hispanic adolescents than for black and white U.S. adolescents.  Hispanic parents cite a greater number of barriers to their children’s physical activity than do white parents.  They are more likely than their white peers to watch more TV and less likely to be part of an organized sports team.

For more information on each of these issues, See the full article, March 2013: Health Snapshot – Hispanic Adolescents in the United States with numerous links to studies and resources.

NAHF Reports Featured in Washington Post Article

Posted on February 26, 2013

John DiIulio, University of Pennsylvania professor and noted author on social science, political, and economic issues writes, ”there is one politically salient issue concerning the nation’s large and growing Latino population that neither party’s leadership has fully acknowledged: Latino grassroots groups, neighborhood associations, and faith-based networks do remarkable and remarkably well-documented work, but these organizations may still be getting short shrift when it comes to federal funding and other support.”

DiIulio cites two of the National Alliance for Hispanic Families’ reports, La Diferencia: Grassroots Organizations Uniquely Serving Hispanic Communities through Culturally Relevant, Family Focused Programs  and Beyond the Rhetoric: Improving Service to the Hispanic Community.

Read the entirety of the Washington Post article here.