Session: Community-Based International Implementation Research on a Hard-to-Reach Population in the Midst of a Pandemic (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

179 Community-Based International Implementation Research on a Hard-to-Reach Population in the Midst of a Pandemic

Friday, January 14, 2022: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Independence BR A, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Violence against Women and Children
David Okech, PhD, University of Georgia, Tamora Callands, PhD, University of Georgia, Alex Balch, PhD, University of Liverpool, Fred Konteh, PhD, CMDA and Claire Bolton, PhD, University of Georgia
Since the 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, also known as the Palermo Protocol, billions of dollars by governments and non-state actors have been directed toward reducing the problem of human trafficking around the globe. Researchers have begun to critically assess the impact of current efforts, including the robustness of existing prevalence estimation methods in the field of human trafficking. Reliable estimates of the problem are a challenge in designing effective programs and policies that can serve survivors, prevent the problem, or punish perpetrators. Human trafficking, also known as modern slavery, is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose, including forced labor or sexual exploitation. The African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES) is an enterprise within the Center on Human Trafficking Research & Outreach at the University of Georgia School of Social Work. APRIES has led global innovative efforts in prevalence estimation and evidence-based programming in close to 10 countries around the globe through community-engaged partnerships that apply the best available implementation science. This roundtable brings together faculty from the disciplines of public health, sociology, political science, and social work to present APRIES’ research and implementation to reduce child trafficking in three hotspots of Sierra Leone. Presenters span three continents including Africa, Europe, and North America. The presentation focuses on the challenges and lessons learned in implementing a large community-based mixed-method research on human trafficking, a hard-to-reach population. Hard-to-reach populations are characterized by the difficulty in survey sampling by using standard probability methods. Typically, a sampling frame for the target population is not available, and its members are rare or stigmatized in the larger population so that it is prohibitively expensive to contact them through the available frames. Hard-to-reach populations in the US and elsewhere are under-served by current sampling methodologies mainly due to the lack of practical alternatives to address these methodological difficulties. Specifically, we begin by outlining the challenges of studying and estimating the prevalence of child trafficking in an international context; efforts to train local data collectors on complex methods of data collection; staying in touch through the data collection process and troubleshooting, and finally, launching the implementation of the project with key stakeholders. Our context is the challenge of COVID-19 in reaching our goals. Our goal is to begin a conversation on creating, maintaining, and enhancing just and reciprocal collaborations among partners who are working on complex and persistent problems from across the globe. The US Department of State, Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons funded the project.
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