Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA

A new IFAST initiative from NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association aims to help stop sex trafficking. In an address at the NTCA Legislative and Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. today, NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield said the association is asking its rural broadband provider members to help support efforts to stop this problem.

“We’re talking about networks, we’re talking about privacy, we’re talking about all these really important things that the internet can do,” said Bloomfield. “The ability to have all of you engaged in a way to protect young people is going to be really important.”

NTCA is collaborating with the Guardian Group, an organization focused on preventing and disrupting the sex trafficking of women and children in the United States, on the IFAST initiative.   

Bloomfield shared a video from the Guardian Group with some alarming statistics:

  • 150,000 escort ads are posted on the internet every day, including some involving children
  • 75% of underage sex trafficking victims were sold online

Rural America is not exempt from these problems, Bloomfield noted.

In an IFAST webpage on the NTCA site, NTCA outlines three ways that broadband providers can participate:

  • Training employees, particularly those in the field, to recognize the signs of possible sex trafficking
  • Use community connections to introduce law enforcement to informative Guardian Group resources by hosting an information-sharing event.
  • Raising funds by hosting an event for their communities to learn more about the issue, by donating to the Guardian Group’s Team 1591 support program, and by starting a corporate matching program and inviting employees to increase the impact.

NTCA will communicate additional information about its collaboration with the Guardian Group “in the coming weeks and months,” Bloomfield said.

Source: NTCA Legislative Conference

Tocia Johnson contributed to this report

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