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Showing posts from 2024

Revising our Social Construction Article

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The most gratifying moments in the research process occur when submitting a paper, knowing the tremendous effort it took to accomplish. However, the most nerve-wracking part comes when you receive the reviews back from editors. Comments are typically specific, but occasionally they can be general, necessitating changes in sentence structure or underlying ideas. Personally, the most challenging aspect of working on revise and resubmit was sharing and accepting changes regarding the statements made in the research, as I believe they represent findings encountered through the thought process. After receiving comments from editors, Dr. Dean and I had to revisit the paper to ensure all comments were addressed. We met to map out revisions for our social construction article and created a 34 point revision to do list based on reviewer comments so we can track our progress. However, I find that once you release the initial tension, it becomes easier to work through the comments, and some of th

WSOY Byers & Co Interview about Trip to Ukraine

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I spent my spring break in Ukraine this year conducting interviews with anti-trafficking organizations for our NSF funded project. I was really surprised at how often the air raid sirens sounded in every city I was in and the complete deluge of Russian bombs that fell on Ukraine every single day. The only thing that protected me and Ukrainians were air defense systems that are in low supply due to political games in Washington D.C. This is why when I was asked to go on the WSOY radio Now Decatur to talk about my trip and research I jumped at the opportunity. In the interview posted below I discuss my experience traveling to Ukraine and our research project exploring human trafficking recruitment dynamics during Russia's war on Ukraine.   

Fieldwork in Ukraine

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I spent the last two weeks in Ukraine conducting interviews around Ukraine with anti-trafficking organizations as part of our NSF funded project on human trafficking recruitment during war. I was thankful for the opportunity to go but was astonished at just how frequent the air raid sirens sounded, often disrupting my daily activities and a good nights sleep. I was in Ukraine for 16 days and every day it was a constant deluge of Russian missiles across Ukraine, the extent to which is not covered in the US media. The only thing that protected us were air defense systems that shot down many but not all incoming missiles and civilians still died every day across Ukraine due to Russian bombs. One of the most anxiety producing elements of it was a channel on telegram where you could see what was being fired at you, things like MiGs, shahed drones, iskander missiles etc. When I was in Kyiv we had a massive attack one night with over 30 missiles taken down by Ukrainian air defense including c

Human Trafficking Related Arrests in Danville

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Trafficking Enforcement Bureau of Illinois State Police have been conducting sting operations throughout Central Illinois focused on identifying individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex acts. On February 28th, 2024,  they conducted one in the Danville region and My #HumanTrafficking Research Lab assistants and I  were asked to go on our local WAND News to talk about it and relate it to our research. The segment was called "Researchers at Millikin explain how human trafficking is a local issue" and you can watch it  here. The five people arrested were charged with Indecent Solicitation/Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse of a Child, which is a Class 3 Felony, and Traveling to Meet a Child, alongside Solicitation to Meet a Child, listed as a Class 4 Felony. We have been combing through this type of arrest data to see how human trafficking has been charged in Central Illinois since 2010 and it was really interesting to learn how t

Daughters of the American Revolution Presentation

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I channeled my inner Emily Gilmore and gave a talk about human trafficking as a result of Russia's war in Ukraine at the Stephan Decatur Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution as part of Women's History Month and International Women's Day! It was interesting to learn more about the local chapter and the process for admission to the chapter and I am always thankful for the opportunity to talk about issues in Ukraine with a captive audience.

Operational Group for Anti-Trafficking in Ukraine

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In January, I was able to present our research project on human trafficking recruitment during Russia's war in Ukraine to the Оперативнa групa з протидії торгівлі людьми (Operational Group for Anti-Trafficking). I presented in Ukrainian and English and talked with stakeholders working on the ground in Ukraine. Now I get to attend the monthly meetings which is wonderful so I can stay up to date on key issues and anti-trafficking work in Ukraine. Also one thing that is nice about studying countries over many years is that you get to see them grow and change. I have written many things on Ukraine's lack of a human trafficking task force or group but attending their meetings has been a dream come true for me as an anti-trafficking researcher because they have one now!

Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference

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The Human Trafficking Research Lab at Millikin traveled to Washington D.C. to present our research on human trafficking adjudication in central Illinois at the Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference. Here are some thoughts from the research assistants in the lab on their experience. Going to Washington D.C. was a great experience, and it felt like as a Political Science student I had been missing out greatly by not visiting our nation's capital. Presenting our research in a room full of people intently listening to what we say was nice as well. All in all, between seeing the landmarks and presenting our human trafficking research, Washington D.C. was certainly an experience I will not forget. My favorite part of DC was visiting the National Gallery of Art. While I don't have a very technical understanding of art, I can appreciate the aesthetically pleasing aspect of it. I could have spent countless hours at that museum had time allowed it.  Rhys Deiter Jadon Cox Vi

Foreign Service Institute Presentation

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  I was invited to speak about human trafficking with Foreign Service Institute officers at the US State Department today that are going to be posted in Latvia and Lithuania. I shared trends in the region and things we are seeing due to Russia's war from the increased vulnerability with labor trafficking of Ukrainian refugees and the influx of migrants on the Belarusian and Russian borders. Some of the students will be working on the Trafficking in Persons Report for Latvia and Lithuania so it was a great opportunity to share my recommendations for improvement with the rankings and report.

The Lab in Washington D.C.

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The Human Trafficking Research Lab at Millikin traveled to Washington D.C. last week to present our research on human trafficking adjudication in central Illinois at the Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference. Pi Sigma Alpha is the political science honor and this is the first time I have taken students but we will definitely be back with the support of Millikin's undergraduate conference funding. None of my research assistants have been here before so it was fun to see places again from their perspective! We visited all three branches of government. We stood outside the White House, toured Congress, and sat in for the quickest session of the Supreme Court.

Human Trafficking Prevention Month Social Media Campaign

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The last student project as part of Human Trafficking Prevention Month was designed as a social media campaign constituting six different graphics and one video that shows different facts about human trafficking. The students wanted it to start on January 11th and last week but I thought it would more impactful if we spread it out over the whole month. They asked me to include this language with the posts:      January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. As part of human trafficking awareness, Millikin University has decided to take part and #WearBlueDay on the 11th as well as provide              information, and resources about human trafficking. Students have taken part in making an awareness campaign that will be shown all week. This campaign provides information to educate others on        human trafficking. Additional local resources:  Millikin University Human Trafficking Research Lab: https://www.humantraffickingresearchlab.org/ Central Illinois Human Trafficking

Five Seconds of Fame on WCIA news!

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  At our Human Trafficking Prevention Month panel on January 30th, I was presented with the opportunity to interview with a local news station WCIA in Champaign Urbana. I answered a handful of questions ranging from what the goal of the panel discussion was and why it was important. Ultimately everything I said got cut down to a 5-second clip, but honestly, I was pleasantly surprised they used anything I said because I was very nervous and rambling a lot. They also got my name spelled right, so it was nice to see they listened when I told them the proper spelling of my name. It was pretty cool though, I had never been on camera before, and I don’t mind talking. More than anything, I knew my colleagues really didn’t want to do the interview so I was happy to do it. All in all, it was a really cool experience and the panel went pretty well. We had survivors of trafficking sharing their stories and while that was pretty hard to hear, I think it really resonated with the people in attend

Human Trafficking Prevention Month Flyers

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Another group from my PO 323 Human Trafficking class made flyers and notecards to provide information on different types of human trafficking in the community and display the hotline. One of the flyers is a general human trafficking flyer and then the others focused on child trafficking and sex trafficking more specifically. We will have copies of these flyers to hand out at our panel discussion on the 30th and they will be posted around Millikin University too in order to raise awareness.              

Proclamation at the City Council Meeting

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The winter break offered a couple of rewarding and engaging experiences in the local community through work in the lab. First, I was lucky to join Dr. Dean on an interview at WAND News. The segment was focusing on human trafficking awareness day and the lab’s victim’s voices panel that was held in January. The interview also covered some of the basic research that the lab does and some lesser-known facts regarding human trafficking. As a local, it was an extremely rewarding experience to be able to share some research and information regarding human trafficking with my local community on the news station that I have watched throughout my life. I was also able to deliver the proclamation dedicating January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Decatur at the Decatur City Council meeting. This was an extremely rewarding experience, as I got the proclamation signed and approved by the mayor of Decatur, and I was an active part in bringing human trafficking awareness to my hometown. It i

WAND interview live in the studio!

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One benefit of teaching at a university for eight years is that students graduate and get interesting jobs in the community. One of my recent Millikin graduates produces the 4 pm local news show on WAND in town and asked me and my one of my students to come in and talk for Human Trafficking Prevention Month. We were invited to go live from the studio at WAND and it was my first time doing live news in the studio but it was such a great opportunity to talk about the lab, our research, and our upcoming panel discussion at Millikin. You can watch our segment here on WAND  and below is a behind the scenes look at me and my students past and present! So proud of everything that they achieve and do in our community.

CIHTTF Meeting on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

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January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and #WearBlueDay. Through this initiative, the public is invited to raise awareness of human trafficking by taking photos of themselves, friends, family, and colleagues wearing blue clothing and sharing them on social media along with the #WearBlueDay hashtag. So I wore blue and spent the afternoon in Springfield at the Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center for our Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force January meeting. We heard survivor advocate Khalila Riga speak and learned about how to better serve survivors with our anti-trafficking work. I also worked the room with our flyers encouraging people to come to our panel discussion on January 30th and got lots of compliments on my awareness raising tote bag!

Panel Discussion on Survivor Voices for Human Trafficking Prevention Month

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For our seventh annual Human Trafficking Prevention Month panel discussion this year we went with a theme of “Survivor Voices.” The survivor-focused panel discussion will feature survivors of sex and labor trafficking from around Central Illinois. We will discuss the challenges and opportunities of a survivor-led movement and how the anti-trafficking movement can work to include survivor voices in the future. The panel will be on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at 6:00 p.m. in the Bob and Debi Johnston Banquet Rooms on the third floor of the University Commons on Millikin’s campus. The panel will round out events held around the United States for Human Trafficking Prevention Month 2024.  For the safety of the survivors on this panel, registration is required for this event. Please register here: https://bit.ly/millikinpanel . This event is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and the Political Science Department at Millikin University. For additional information, please see the Fa

Radio Interview about our Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign

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I was up nice and early this morning to be on the Byers & Co show on WSOY radio with student Diana Terneus one of the students from my Human Trafficking class. We talked about the awareness campaign the class created for our final class project as part of Human Trafficking Prevention Month! You can listen to our segment here:

Public Service Announcements

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The next group from my PO 323 Human Trafficking class project created three different Public Service Announcements (PSA) as part of our awareness campaign created by students for Human Trafficking Prevention Month this January. They worked with Professor Meister who runs  WJMU The Quad  Millikin University's college radio station who helped them record, edit, and add background music to the PSAs which range from thirty second to one minute. The students wrote and narrate the PSA citing statistics and list the local Center for Prevention of Abuse hotline. The first PSA is a general announcement about trafficking and you listen to hear it here . The second PSA is about labor trafficking and you can listen to it here . The third PSA is about sex trafficking and features a case from here in Central Illinois which you can listen to here .

Coffee Sleeves

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For the month of January on the blog, I will run through the different group projects from the awareness campaign created by students in my PO 323 Human Trafficking class for Human Trafficking Prevention Month. One group designed stickers for coffee sleeves and sent emails asking local coffee shops asking if they would be willing to put the stickers on their sleeves during January. Thankfully, locally owned and operated  Coffee Run 121 wrote back and said that they would be willing to put them on their coffee sleeves at their two Decatur locations. Trying to figure out how to print them professionally and cheaply was another challenge but thankfully our duplicating department at Millikin worked with me so that I bought the stickers and they charged me just for the printing of over 300 stickers. All in all this saved me around $150 from a professional sticker printer and I think the results turned out great. Stop by the Coffee Run 121 locations at Harristown 4314 W Main Street or Decat

Human Trafficking Prevention Month Class Project

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January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month so last semester students in my PO 323 Human Trafficking class created an awareness campaign with fliers, public service announcements for the radio, a social media campaign, website resources, and coffee sleeves that will be posted throughout  the month to educate our community about human trafficking. Every year since 2010, the  President of the United States has dedicated the month to raise awareness about human trafficking and to educate the public about how to identify and prevent this crime. So my students took their knowledge about human trafficking patterns, statistics, stereotypes, and laws and put them to use designing a campaign. We will be posting about each part of the campaign on social media and this blog.....stay tuned!