“Reality Check” Documentary

The True Consequences of Human Trafficking on our Society

Prevention Video Concept Paper


I.   Problem Statement

The domestic trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and the trafficking of males and females for a sex slave trade is an alarming problem in the world. In fact, the FBI has identified San Diego as a High Intensity Child Prostitution Area. According to local and federal authorities, San Diego is part of a trafficking circuit that includes cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

San Diego’s Fox Channel 6 recently aired a story warning parents to take notice of the growing threat of child exploitation. According to the news report, children are being recruited from schools, shopping malls and the Internet and lured or forced into the sex trade. Even more alarming, these children are being recruited by violent street gangs. The threat of gangs involved in CSEC is a dangerous phenomenon that leaves every child in San Diego vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

In part, CSEC crimes happen to children because of the lack of public awareness and the failure of the community to understand the power behind the force, coercion and psychological manipulation that pimps use to victimize children. The pimp knows that children who are experiencing problems in the home, at school or with peers are especially vulnerable. Homeless, runaway and thrown-away children are even more at risk. The pimp also understands that he has to romance his victims, deceive them with false promises and hopes, isolate them from friends and family and manipulate them into working for him out of “love.” Since victims are often vulnerable children with a history of child abuse, it is difficult for the child to resist the pimp’s web of deception. Education and awareness that provides a true understanding of the pimp and his psychological manipulative games is crucial to winning this fight. Vulnerable children need the necessary information and tools to protect themselves from the pimp’s deceptive tactics. To bring awareness and change, Legacy Productions teamed up with the ACTION Network to produce a far-reaching film that is designed to be disseminated through the San Diego County Office of Education. That film –Indoctrinated: The Grooming of our Children into Prostitution – revealed the traffickers’ recruiting and indoctrinating techniques through undercover footage, narration by National Family Justice Center Alliance President Casey Gwinn and interviews with advocates, law enforcement, prostituted youth, their parents, and even a pimp.

The primary reason children, young adolescents and women are trafficked is that there is a demand for their services. As long as the demand is there, pimps and gangs will continue to provide a supply of exploited humans. If the demand disappeared, there would be no incentive for pimps and gangs to continue in this business. Many of the men who seek out the services of prostituted women and children do so in ignorance of the horrors that are endured by the victims of human trafficking. In fact, most of them have no idea that the person they are paying to have sex with is many times a slave.

II.  Plan of Action

Legacy Productions proposes to produce a compelling and impacting 20- to 30-minute video, or series of videos, that will educate the demand side (“johns”) about the truly ugly world of human trafficking. The video will, at least in part, be modeled on the Prostitution Impact Panel created by the San Diego City Attorney’s office. It will include vivid and moving images, stories, and testimonials about CSEC. It will show how and why CSEC happens; the devastating impact it has on the victims, the customers, and the community; and what we need to do to eradicate it.

We plan to present the video to groups of people who are most at risk of using the services of prostitutes or themselves being trafficked, including the military; fraternities, sororities and other university groups; high schools; and people on probation, parole, or in jails. Our goal is to educate people in a way that will truly impact them and make them decide that they will not seek out the services of prostitutes, thus reducing the demand and ultimately protecting children from being victimized.

III. Vision of the Film

This film will positively impact the plight of those harmed by human trafficking, because it will topple the infrastructure at the demand side. It will do so by:

  • Clearly revealing the heartbreaking and horrific impact on those trapped in a slavery lifestyle.
  • Showing the massive consequences “johns” must face financially, legally and with their families and health.
  • Showing the consequences of human trafficking on our society.
  • Reaching the “john”at the deeper levels with which he himself may have disassociated.

IV. Film Outline

  • Consequence on the Cities – drugs and crime – stats
  • Consequence on the Women and Children – stats
  • Consequence on the “johns” Themselves
    • Legal matters – stats
    • Diseases – pictures and stats
    • Families ruined
    • Finances
  • What a “john”may be looking for without understanding the harm and consequences
  • At the Crossroads
  • Avenues of Help

V. Background

With sponsorship from SD County Office of Education and support from the ACTION Network, Legacy Productions filmed and edited the short educational film “Indoctrinated: The Grooming of our Children into Prostitution,” with the desire to bring parent and teen together to view the film in order to bring awareness and alignment on the matter. Such awareness, especially shared between both adult and child, would help to prevent kids from being seduced and groomed into the life. That was an important step in building a bridge to solution.

The new film project, with the working title “Reality Check,” will focus on the “john” and the part he plays in the trafficking scenario. Shown to “johns” in the Prostitution Impact Panel program and even on local and national TV, will have a tremendous impact on curtailing the demand side of the equation. Already secured by Legacy Productions are interviews with prostituted young women, law enforcement, activists, a pimp and even an admitted “john.” These could be used for the film.

VI. Deeper Context

This project reaches the “john” at the level he can be reached, hitting on many fronts, creating another opportunity to stop the issue where it begins: at the demand. This film will reveal the results the “john’s” actions have on his life, his family’s life and on society. Yet, unlike any other project, this film will offer a non-judgmental look at the “john’s” deeper unmet needs and the tragic strategies he uses to get those met. Whereas this may appear to give a rubber stamp approval on his actions, this is not the case. There is a fundamental difference between our needs and the actions we take to get those needs met. A sexual need met through a mutually respectful relationship is completely different than getting that need met through an act of slavery. To truly alter one’s behaviors, people must be met at the level of need and care. A mere punishment and judgment does not alter what drives people on the deeper levels, as seen in the recidivism rates in many arenas. What can alter behavior?

  • Clear boundaries set by those who can maintain a space of accountability
  • Receiving non-judgmental understanding
  • The awareness of the consequence of our actions
  • Clear options that could be chosen to help shift our strategies when attempting to meet needs
  • The empowered choice that we can own responsibly

Any attempts at stopping the trends of the demand side (especially the shaming concept) will work to the degree that will an educational film that reveals the consequences of human trafficking, speaking directly to the “johns,” man to man. Not discounting the success of strict accountability for illegal actions, the success of having a film speak peer to peer would make an impact on levels that go beyond punishment and the attempt to restrict primal tendencies.

“Reality Check” will be produced by a man for men, showing them the harsh consequences of human trafficking on society, females, families and themselves. It would do so not to judge them, to bring shame or to squelch a raw desire, but to bring deep understanding and to elicit the aspect within man that is protective, serving and honorable. The key factor in curbing the demand side is not in halting anything within men but to inspire them to bring out their higher qualities of honor and integrity. With enough education and awareness brought through a non-judgmental film, the men will not feel forced to act certain ways because of an outside law, but will be inspired to respond because of the internal “code of honor” and because their community’s collective heart has been broken.

Whereas it’s true the opening up and breaking hearts of men will not take place with the sick and demented mind that is so wounded it cannot see past its own neuroses. “Reality Check” may not consciously reach these men, but it will reach the multitudes that deeply do desire to do the right thing. It’s clear the idea of not judging the “johns” could make it appear to validate and make OK all their actions. This will not be the case. The intention here is to reach the “johns” at a place where they can listen and then choose to take action.