Online Course Review Series
This is a part of a series of reviews of online anti-trafficking courses.
Assessment-based Certificate: No. You collect letters throughout the course to indicate you have watched the major sections. To receive your certificate, you fill in an online form (including the access code).
Duration: ~22 minutes, approximately 18-19 are instructional. There is no way to see your progress. See interface notes, below.
Course description: “Hotels and other commercial lodging establishments are frequent places where human trafficking occurs. Employees of commercial lodging establishments (hotels) must receive annual human trafficking awareness training. In response to the Texas Legislature’s new requirements for the training of commercial lodging employees, the Texas Office of the Attorney General created the following training. It is available for free to all Texas commercial lodging establishments. Upon completion, please complete the training certification below the video.”
Review: While the quality of the material is excellent, this is, essentially, an unskippable video and a certificate form saying you have watched the video. Really. And this is provided by the Texas Attorney General. Let me make this perfectly clear: there is no test for understanding, the certificate is granted by collecting all the letters while you watch the video.
If you watch on a PC, you cannot rewind or fast forward the video. Miss something? Start over. See interface notes, below, for details.
Link to course: Click here.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: HOW HOTEL EMPLOYEES CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Title confusion. It took me a while to figure out this is the actual title of the training. It appears to only be referenced in the video itself.
Interface notes. It is at this point that I realize I’m pressing the screen once to pull up the pause / start control. So every time I want to pause the video, I have to press the screen once and then the pause (or play) icon. To me, it is incredibly annoying. Not their fault – it’s just the video player. I’m on my phone, so maybe that’s just the phone interface. I checked the PC web version. Click once to start and once to pause. Nice. Just what I wanted. But…
Usability: There is no way to know how long this video is, as there is no scrub bar. It is also worth noting that, on the phone version, you can double click to rewind or fast forward a few seconds. On my Chrome PC browser, you cannot go forward or backward. It’s all or nothing. How am I supposed to review this course or what if I missed something? Oh man, what if I didn’t write down a letter?! Would I know I could load it on my phone to rewind?
Languages / closed captions. There are also Closed Captions in English. I haven’t seen a version of this in any other languages.
The course begins
The video opens with a short intro from Ken Paxton, Texas’ Attorney General. He explains the objectives of the training: you will learn all forms of trafficking, who is at risk, and how to identify, report and respond to human trafficking.
I’m going to go through the course at a high level, with details where I believe they are relevant.
The course opens with Cara Pierce, from the Office of the Texas Attorney General Human Trafficking Division explaining how you need to write down letters as the course progresses so you can enter them into the form to receive your certificate. This catches me by surprise.
If you can believe it, that is a more elegant solution than MANY of these video only trainings I’ve taken.
She begins by explaining that hotels provide anonymity and safety for human traffickers, and that law enforcement is often not present.
- Traffickers can rent rooms for short periods of time, days or weeks.
- Hotels can also contribute to labor trafficking through third parties for food, cleaning, construction, or other services.
- Describes prevalence and that anyone could be a victim of trafficking.
It is at this point that I realize they haven’t taught the definition of trafficking. I go back to the beginning and check myself. I’m wrong. They did mention it, but it was really quickly. “They force victims to engage in commercial sex activities at the hotel. Labor trafficking also happens at hotels. When hotels contract with outside vendors… they may be labor trafficking, or exploiting, their workers.”
Surely there’s a better definition coming later in the training.
They give the first letter at this point.
“WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?”
Okay, I’m hoping the definition is made clear here. Yes!
“Human trafficking is a crime that involves exploiting a person for forced labor, services or commercial sex.“
They add, “Human trafficking involves force, fraud, coercion, or sexual exploitation of a minor under 18.”
That leaves out some important concepts, but perhaps this is enough for someone to get the idea?
Discussion of myths and realities. It’s not smuggling (that’s a crime against the United States). Movement is not required. Happens to citizens and non-citizens. Being snatched up in public is not common; it is more likely you may become trafficked by someone that uses fraud, lies and false promises (money, love, etc.) to trick them.
- Another myth is that people are kidnapped and locked in cages. While this does happen, it is incredibly rare. The reality is that traffickers maintain control through manipulation, fraud, and physical abuse.
- Yet another is that “Trafficking doesn’t happen in my community.” Fact: in 2020, there were more than 1.6 million online commercial sex ads in Texas. Over 200k of them are suspected to have been for children.
- It is a myth that “there’s nothing I can do to help.” Everyone that learns about trafficking is empowered to do something and teach others what to do.
The second letter is announced.
“WHAT IS SEX TRAFFICKING?”
Good content here.
Third letter announced.
“WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING?”
Force, fraud, and coercion are actually methods of the legal requirement of “Means,” which is only one of the three legal elements of human trafficking. The other two are Actions and Purpose.
In Human Trafficking Essentials, you will learn the AMP Model, which includes clear definitions and examples of Actions, Means, and Purpose.
“HUMAN TRAFFICKING INDICATORS”
They cover a reasonable amount of indicators.
4th letter given here.
“WHAT IS LABOR TRAFFICKING?”
Some examples given.
“LABOR TRAFFICKING INDICATORS”
Some examples given.
“SIGNS TO WATCH FOR AT YOUR HOTEL”
Some examples given.
Renting two rooms next to one another, or asking to have a view of the parking lot might be indicators to watch for.
Traffickers often some to the same hotel every time they come to town. If they continually check in with different people that are not relatives, that might be a sign.
If you see or hear someone being verbally abused, find large quantities of condoms in the garbage, notice frequent requests for clean towels or sheets, see excessive foot traffic in / out of multiple rooms rented by the same person, those could be signs of trafficking. They provide many other REALLY good examples, as well. Some are related to the bar and restaurant area.
They cover good examples of labor trafficking as well.
Two letters are provided here.
“HOW HUMAN TRAFFICKING AFFECTS VICTIMS”
Very good list of physical, mental, and relationship impacts.
Mentions trauma bonding / Stockholm Syndrome, trust, mental health, co-dependency issues, and more.
“WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU SUSPECT TRAFFICKING”
Good advice here. I particularly like “Don’t show that you are really concerned. Keep those concerns to yourself and report them.”
Call 911 or contact iWatchTX at iwatchtx.org or 844.643.2251. In all honesty, this is the first time I have heard of iWatchTX.
You want to report physical description of suspected victim and trafficker, what kind of car they drive, what clothes they were wearing, and the date and time you saw them.
She also suggests getting to know your fellow employees. Ask them questions about where they live, etc. They may be in danger as well.
Filling out form and turning it in
Date of Training mm/dd/yyyy
Commercial Lodging Establishment Name
Address of Establishment
“By submitting this form, I certify that I have watched the OAG Hotel Training video on Human Trafficking.”
The Texas Legislature passed House Bill 390, (87th Regular Session) which requires the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to approve training for the hospitality industry. House Bill 390 seeks to provide additional opportunities for human trafficking to be reported to law enforcement by requiring human trafficking training for workers directly employed by certain commercial lodging establishments. This annual training requirement only applies to commercial lodging establishments of 10 or more rooms, but is encouraged for all lodging establishments in the State of Texas regardless of size. This list will be expanded as more courses are approved. For course-specific questions please contact the training organization directly. For general questions, please contact [email protected].