Recently released data from the FBI showed that 169 individuals were arrested for human trafficking including 34 for attempted offences against children in the lead up to the 2019 Super Bowl. More than 25 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and district attorneys’ offices, along with seven non-government organizations, participated in the operation.
Every year the Super Bowl draws thousands of people to travel and participate in the National Football League championship in Atlanta. Large governing bodies of sporting events are in a good position to monitor the prevalence of child sexual exploitation and take action to prevent this crime, which research estimates to be one of four key human rights violations that occur during mega sporting events.
Since 2014 the global campaign It’s a Penalty has been run during major sporting events to bring attention to this issue and increase reporting of suspected cases including during the 2014 Football World Cup, the Rio 2016 Olympic & Paralympics Games in Brazil, the 2018 Super Bowl LII Minneapolis, the 2018 Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
It’s a Penalty, a global campaign has again launched efforts to create awareness during the 2019 Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. This year’s theme was to ‘Learn Something, See Something, Do Something’ and stand up against human trafficking. When the travel and tourism industry as well as the general public has the tools and awareness to report suspected cases it has the potential to save lives.
The It’s a Penalty objectives:
The campaign received significant public attention including support from high profile NFL players who featured in their campaign videos. Three members of The Code also joined forces with Its a Penalty to bring attention to this issue. British Airways and members of The Code American Airlines played the It’s a Penalty video on their flights with a potential to reach 39.2 million people worldwide.
Members of The Code Hilton Hotels in Atlanta trained their staff to spot human trafficking and forty hotels showed the It’s a Penalty film in their hotel rooms and distributed campaign materials to guests.
8000 Uber drivers, also members of The Code and Lyft taxi drivers in the city were trained to identify and report exploitation and trafficking, and 2500 taxis had It’s a Penalty’s materials displayed. Volunteers also distrusted campaign wristbands with the Polaris hotline together with the volunteers from SOAP to 400 hotels, gas stations, truck shops, 24 hour restaurants.
In 2018 the campaign reached 2.7 million people and the thirty second 2018 campaign film reached a potential 52 million passengers, which was shown for three months on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, American Airlines and Virgin Australia.