Emojis & trafficking Those cute little symbols may have a not-so-innocent meaning on Craigslist or Backpage

A recent article on emojis and trafficking recently caught my attention.  Jennifer Van Grove from the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the following, "Innocuous though they may seem, emojis, or the symbol-based form of communication — such as hearts, crowns and cherries — have been hijacked by those wishing to hawk sex trafficking services through online websites without detection.

The link was recently uncovered by San Diego State University Information Systems Master’s Program graduate Jessica Whitney and her thesis advisor Dr. Murray Jennex as they sought to further decode the language of sex traffickers, who communicate out in the open but in code — particularly about underage victims — in online dating forums offered by sites such as Craigslist and Backpage.
     According to the research, the most prominent emoji indicators of trafficking are the rose, rosette, cherry, cherry blossom, growing heart, airplane, and crown. The growing heart and cherry, for instance, highlight that the victim being trafficked is a minor, whereas an airplane relates that a person will be in town for a temporary amount of time."

     The good news is that  "...Whitney and Jennex’s research has laid a foundation for an automated monitoring tool, which, if developed, could aid law enforcement officials in more quickly and accurately locating potential victims."  (Read the full article HERE.)
     Keeping up with the tricks used by traffickers can be a challenge. Well done, Jessica Whitney and Dr. Murray Jennex!
Sue Ann

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit www.hope4justice.org/learnmore/ 

For educators and/or anyone who works with children: 

FREE trainings will provide information on the what, who, how, and why of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth.

Morning session (9am-12pm)

  • Discussion of the topic
  • Identification and “red flags”
  • Overview of local intervention resources.

Afternoon session (1pm-4pm)

  • Safety planning
  • Direct service to survivors of exploitation
  • How CSEC uniquely affects male identifying youth.

June Option: 6/8/2017 at East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, 8251 Kendall Road Maple Falls, WA 98226
Morning Session is 9am -12noon(register here)
Afternoon Session is 1 pm-4pm (register here)

August Option: 8/10/2017 at St Luke’s Educational Center 3333 Squalicum Pwky, Bellingham, WA 98225.
Morning Session is 9am-12 noon. (register here)
Afternoon Session is 1pm - 4 pm. (register here)
Note: Additional scheduled trainings are 10/19/17 and 12/14/17 if you're not able to attend in June or August.

Volunteers are needed on Saturday, June 23rd to help set up for Rebound's Ray of Hope Summer Day Program.  Help set up camp at Silver Beach Elementary School starting at 9 am and working until 3:30 pm. Lunch will be served at noon until 1 PM.  Volunteer for the morning shift, afternoon shift, or both! Contact Shelli at 360-714-0700 to sign up.

Save the date for the next  Hope4Justice public meeting on 6/20/17

We'll be hearing from Rebound's new director, Mark Kadel as well as Hope4Justice members reporting on project plans!
Time: 7-8:30 pm
Place: Engedi Learning Center, 7370 Guide Meridian, Lynden, WA 98264.  
Directions: From Wiser Lake roundabout head North on Guide Meridian; immediately after Simple Box Storage Containers turn right into the driveway and drive to the second building on the left