Awareness is Prevention’s
Internet Protection Organization for Children Initiative

Awareness is Prevention (AIP) has launched a new initiative in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the excessive proliferation of dubious websites that engage in online sex trafficking and prostitution. The pandemic has suddenly uprooted our children from their classrooms and has forced them to spend a majority of their days online. Advertisements for such dangerous websites have completely taken over major social media platforms that target children. As a result, minors are not only being inundated with links to websites that promote graphic sexual content and illegal criminal activities, but are also exposed to the concept that participation in the sex industry is financially rewarding. Such a dangerous situation has put the safety of children and families globally at tremendous risk.

In response to this growing threat, AIP’s is taking initiative to educate policy makers, law enforcement, institutions, websites with adult content, and payment processing companies about potential legal violations as they relate to age verification, sex trafficking and child safety. AIP is collaborating with these entities as well as the broader victim’s rights community to shine the light on this burgeoning crisis.

For this effort, AIP has teamed up with the University of New Haven’s (UNH) Center for Forensic Investigations of Trafficking in Persons (CFITP). CFITP advocates the use of forensic based methodologies in the fight against human trafficking. The center was founded on this premise and has been embraced by Federal, State and local enforcement and other entities involved in combating trafficking in persons.

The Center’s Timothy Palmbach provides AIP with strategic counsel as a subject matter expert due to his extensive credentials in the anti-human trafficking space. Professor Palmbach is Chair of the Forensic Science Department and Executive Director of Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science. He served 22 years with Connecticut State Police, retiring as a Major in charge of the Division of Scientific Services.

During his academic career, Professor Palmbach has developed methodologies to integrate the use of Forensic DNA analysis in the fight against human trafficking. His work includes several international projects, including work with foreign governments and NGO groups with training, assessment and planning, assistance with investigative efforts; countries include Costa Rica, Nepal, Poland, countries in Balkan region, and East Africa. Domestically, Palmbach has worked with local law enforcement agencies to integrate advanced analytic strategies and forensic analysis to assist in their investigative efforts against human trafficking. He is also a member of interdisciplinary team in CT, to develop best practices and provide training in areas involving trafficking in persons. Finally, he has published in this area including a Best Practice Guide, prepared in collaboration with RTI-Forensic Science Center of Excellence.

AIP greatly welcomes this partnership with CFITP as we work together to put an end to the exploitation of children through the internet.

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