In a new effort to curb human trafficking in the Tampa Bay region, teens are being asked to drop the f-bomb, the "f" standing for "friend."
The campaign is a grassroots effort led by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay
in partnership with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking
(FCAHT) and Dunn&Co
, a Tampa-based advertising agency that took on the project pro bono.
The tagline is designed to immediately grab the attention of teens through social media and events, asking them to stand up for friends touched by human trafficking to get them help. A website
and a social media campaign (#fbomb211) list ways a pimp typically targets teens with warning signs such as a young girl dating an older man, buying things she can’t afford, or acting secretive, depressed or afraid. Friends of potential victims are encouraged to talk to their friend and seek help through a confidential call to 2-1-1.
The campaign will also include guerrilla marketing techniques such as hangers placed in dressing rooms of stores where teens frequently shop.
"If we can help to prevent one or more girls from being trafficked, then this campaign will have been a huge success," says Crisis Center CEO David Braughton.
According to the FBI, an estimated 200,000 people in the U.S. are trafficked each year, mostly young girls. The average age a girl enters into prostitution is 12.
Most of the girls entering into trafficking situations had friends at one time who might have noticed they were wearing nicer clothes or jewelry, or spending lots of time with an older man. The campaign is targeted at those friends who can make a difference early on, noting that the victims are often vulnerable and don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late.
"If we can identify these issues early on and a friend can call, then we can do something about it," says Braughton.
The campaign is already catching on. Braughton’s high school daughter tried it out with stickers on her car, and has received questions about it.
The Crisis Center’s Women in Action group is funding the campaign, along with funds given to FCAHT Founder Anna Rodriguez from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Community Hero award.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: David Braughton, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay