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Running head: PHASE I, II, & III

Accessing & Evaluating Evidence in Social Work Practice


Emily R. Johnson
SW 3810 - Wayne State University
April 23, 2015

Phase I & II: Accessing Evidence in Social Work Practice

PHASES I, II, & III

Phase I: Statement of the Problem


Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where traffickers use force, violence,
fraud, and/or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or
labor services against his/her own will (National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 2014).
Diverging from general human trafficking, sex trafficking is specifically on the incline in the
United States. The growing demand for sex with young women and children today is fueled by
the glorification society and the media puts on pimps and the normalization of sexual
exploitation. Kids are most often the victims of sex trafficking because they are the easiest to
manipulate. However, the other common factor in sex trafficking victims is vulnerability in
teenage girls. Traffickers become skilled profilers by preying on these girls. They find these
vulnerable women, or children, (most commonly through the internet today) and use a
combination of coercion and force to manipulate them into their trafficking game. The traffickers
then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, and other forms of control to keep
the victim from leaving.
This problem caught my social worker eye because it violates human dignity on all levels. No
one should ever be denied free will; children should never have to experience sexual abuse; and
most definitely, no one should ever be forced to submit their body for the sexual pleasures of
another for a profit they do not even inherit! Human trafficking is a deceitful and corrupt
violation of human rights and it needs to come to an end. So what do we do to help those who are
in a position where they cant help themselves? What services are available to help the victims of
human trafficking?

Phase II: Analysis of Article Found

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I liked this article because it provides background information, it gives professional input
on the subject, it discusses several intervention methods currently in place, and it suggests certain
areas that need improvement. I believe this addresses the needs of my chosen social problem and
population because it reviews which human trafficking intervention methods work and which of
those need revision. I liked this research study because it was interesting to read what is on the
mind of current human trafficking service providers. It was also thought provoking when they
inspected several common challenges for the victims of human trafficking. The study provided
me with good input for a career I am considering pursuing one day.
I began my search by going to the Wayne State website and using the research tab. It
then brought me to a page where I chose libraries. I began my search with Google Scholar and
then pressed on and looked through the tab article databases, where I found familiar databases
such as PsycINFO, EBSCO, and ProQuest. It was rather easy to find results on my topic of
human trafficking. This article specifically, I found through EBSCO. Certain keywords in my
searches were- human trafficking, intervention, study, and research.

Phase III: Evaluating Evidence in Social Work Practice


Research Design
The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of providers who serve
victims and survivors of human trafficking. The study inspected the challenges they encountered
when providing assistance; their perspective on the challenges victims confront when trying to
seek help; and the effectiveness of interventions today. With this being said, a descriptive
qualitative approach was used to gather the data. Researchers conducted open-ended style

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interviews to give participants the opportunity to elaborate on thoughts and feelings regarding
their work in human trafficking.
When referring to internal validity in descriptive studies, it is referring to the accuracy or
quality of the study (e.g. how well the study is run, etc.). In this study particularly, the biggest
uncontrolled threat to internal validity was concerning the method of participant selection.
Because a random sample was not used, (participants were selected by the researchers through
convenience and snowball sampling), the data had a possibility of being biased. This could be
based off how comfortable participants may have felt in revealing their personal experiences
during the interviews. In addition, due to the researchers having their own personal experiences
with human trafficking, the interpretations of the responses may have been influenced also. In
these instances, biases may have been unable to control. However, because the study was
conducted by a one-time survey, researchers were able to control all other possible threats
regarding history complications, maturation, testing, instrumentation, and statistical regression,
experimental mortality, and selection interactions.
External validity, on the other hand, represents the extent in which a studys results can
be generalized/applicable to other individuals or settings. Again, because the study was
conducted by surveying individuals only once, the researchers were able to control possible
external threats regarding complications of pretesting, experimental setting, and multiple
treatments/interventions. For example, they controlled setting becoming a possible threat by
allowing the participants to chose a location they are comfortable in. Still, not all aspects of the
study were able to be controlled. The participants were selected using snowball sampling and
convenience (vs. random sampling). Therefore, the external validity of subject interaction was
threatened. If subjects would have been chosen randomly, then their particular demographic

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would not have created bias their responses and the studys results may be more applicable to the
greater population. For example, the majority of respondents were female, they all had obtained
different levels of degrees (which too made for fluctuating income levels), and the amount of
years each participant had been employed in the anti-trafficking field also varied. Furthermore,
50% were Asian, 30% were Caucasian, and 20% were Hispanic. Not to mention, the sample size
only consisted of ten people, which cannot accurately represent all service providers in that field.
However, keeping in mind they were unable to interview more than ten individuals because those
were the only volunteers who made themselves available for the study. These are examples of
some of the variables researchers were unable to control in this study.
A research design is considered internally valid when we can be certain our independent
variable is causing the change in our dependent variable. When we are able to conclude that the
two variables are causally related, this is referred to as making causal inferences. The three
specific criteria required to make a causal inference are: the cause must precede the effect in
time, the two variables must be related, and the relationship between the two variables cannot be
explained as the result of some unrelated third variable. The purpose of this study was to
interview human trafficking workers/advocates and determine what challenges they face when
trying to provide services to victims, what challenges may be present when victims seek help,
and what interventions are most effective when assisting trafficked victims. When checking this
study side by side with the criteria required for making causal inferences, the researchers were
able to competently convey all variables were indeed interrelated with one another.
Sampling
For the purpose of this study, only those who work with trafficked individuals on a
professional level were chosen to participate. As stated earlier, these participants were recruited

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using snowball and convenience sampling from researchers personal contacts. The snowballing
technique was carried out by researchers enlisting the assistance of well-respected community
service providers. Participants who agreed to being interviewed were asked if they would then
provide a flyer about the study to their peers who also work with trafficking victims. The
following agencies consented to the interviews and provided this study with ten participants:
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking; Oasis (Stop the Trafficking Campaign);
Department of Children and Family Services; Polaris Project Los Angeles; and Public Counsel of
Los Angeles.
Advantages of this sample strategy would be that the interviewers are able to obtain
responses only from individuals who meet the work experience criteria, which fulfills what the
researchers were most interested in. However, a disadvantage to the sampling technique is that it
may not accurately represent the larger population at hand and participants answers may vary
depending how comfortable they felt during the interview.
Fortunately, the study investigated areas of interest that I believe could still be applied to
social work as a generalized whole. It took ten professionals who work with victims of human
trafficking and had them relay what they believe common obstacles in service agencies are. Of
course, if this study were more extensive and they were able to conduct maybe a hundred or
more interviews, that would provide a more in depth judgment. But, working with what they
were given, I feel this study still has potential to illustrate where challenges lie in the helping
profession, and ways these challenges can be eliminated in the future. Furthermore, it may have
been interesting to see the victims perspectives on overall effectiveness of intervention methods.

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Measurement

The instrument used in this study consisted of face-to-face interviews. Each of the ten
hour long interview sessions were guided by open-ended questions that would elicit in depth
responses. Part one of the interview focused on the specific interest of each participant within the
trafficking field. This portion was purposed to enable individuals to discuss the challenges they
face personally, and common barriers for victims seeking service. The second part of the
interview concentrated on interventions participants had implemented personally and by their
respective agency. This portion also included topics such as culture issues and suggestions for
future intervention programs.
A variable is either a result of some force or is the force itself that causes a change in
another variable. We classify variables as either dependent or independent. Dependent variables
get their name from depending on the independent variables to change them in some way. With
that being said, human trafficking victims are the dependent variable in this study, while the
intervention programs are considered the independent variables because they are what affect the
victims. This was measured by experience and observation by the participants/service providers
in the study. Working in the field of human trafficking over the course of years, these individuals
have been able to see progress caused by certain interventions, as well as downfalls.
Reliability and validity may not be perfectly sound due to slight internal and external
threats (as discussed earlier). Nevertheless, when asked why participants work with this
population, it became apparent they are genuinely interesting in advocating for these victims and
survivors. Being said, I trust the information they provided on various personal experiences,
agencies, and intervention methods.

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However, I would make a point to argue that if the research team had decided to observe
client records of successful interventions, it would be more persuasive than simply word of
mouth. Even though the information these social workers were able to provide was legitimate
and relatable to other social workers in the field, if researchers were to show this in hopes for
new legislation to be passed, government agencies and officials would rather see hard,
numerical, evidence.
Data Collection
All interviews were audio recorded (consensually), and occasional hand written notes
were taken. After all recordings were collected, the responses were grouped based of reoccurring
themes.
In regards to this study specifically, I feel interviewing participants face-to-face was a
great strength. This is because the researchers were able to find exactly what they were looking
for; they wanted detailed accounts and opinions from those who are down in the dirty work of it.
Additionally, when you are with someone face to face, you are more likely to get real, honest
answers and you can visibly see how they are affected by their experiences. Often times when
individuals fill out surveys, they give quick or vague answers. Face to face interviewing allows
you to really explore each response. On the other hand, a slight weakness may have surfaced if
any of the participants felt uncomfortable in the interviewing setting (although the interview
locations were decided by the participants).
If the researchers of this study wanted to obtain a larger response rate, increasing the
ability to generalize the study on a larger scale, they could have used additional survey methods.
While interviewing face to face has its obvious benefits, maybe also having the option of filling
out a written survey would be beneficial for those perhaps who couldnt dedicate a full hour to an

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in person interview. You could distribute surveys at various human trafficking agencies and then
pick them up a week or so later. By doing this in addition to face-to-face interviews, the
researchers may have been able to generalize the data on a larger scope. I also believe if the
researchers would have been able to survey the trafficked victims/survivors, that would have
provided a lot of beneficial information to the study as well.
Ethics & Cultural Considerations
I feel the study was culturally competent in the matter of selecting culturally diverse
participants. Furthermore, in regards to the actual data collected, cultural competency came up in
every portion of the interview. Human trafficking service providers feel there needs improvement
in the area of their agencies towards cultural competence; more agencies need to hire more of a
diverse workforce.
If I could think of one additional approach that might improve the studies cultural
competence, it would be to take samples from populations of social workers on a global level.
That way, the study would gain relevancy world wide, shedding light in places where human
trafficking is much worse than it is here in the United States.
The only possible ethical issue that comes to mind concerning how the research was
conducted, would be an issue concerning the interview settings. Because the respondent had the
opportunity to decide where the interview would take place, this could put the interviewee in
potential harm. However, I am sure the research team took whatever precautions necessary when
going to new locations to conduct their study. I suppose they felt it was most important for the
respondents to feel comfortable in this research process.

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Results & Implications

The results of the studies were broken up into three categories (as mentioned earlier):
challenges faced by providers, providers perspective on victim challenges, and interventions. In
the first portion (challenges faced by providers), the interviewees feel that due to the complexity
of trafficking, appropriate services cannot always be provided to clients. They stated there is a
lack of resources due to funding for those who cannot easily afford it, there is a definite shortage
of mental health services, and providing shelter for victims is also a reoccurring issue.
Additionally, most participants agreed labor trafficking is commonly disregarded, while sex
trafficked victims receive the spotlight. 100% of respondents shared they were never formally
trained to work with this unique and difficult population. They all agreed they do not feel
adequately equipped and that there is a strong need for better training within the agencies.
Moreover, all of the participants also agreed that collaborating with other agencies is crucial
when trying to meet the complex needs of victims. Unfortunately, due to a lack of awareness and
funding, this is, of course, made very difficult to do. Furthermore, when asked about any other
challenges they as service providers face, participants stated that language barriers and trying to
help clients assimilate to a new culture are especially difficult. 70% of participants discussed the
trouble when trying to help victims learn life skills or how to utilize available resources.
The second portion covered participant dialogue on the topic of common challenges
victims face. This included: a fear of law enforcement, retribution by traffickers, cultural and
confidentiality issues, and unfamiliarity with the United States systems and their rights in
America.
In the last portion of the interviews, individuals were asked which intervention they felt
was most effective. 100% of respondents answered, outreach to victims and

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collaboration/training partner agencies (Rubin, A. & Babbie, E., 2013). By implementing this
intervention method, service providers are able to spread new and accurate knowledge and build
relationships (which also allows for more access to resources). Furthermore, 80% of participants
felt helping clients obtain legal status is an effective service, and 60% stated that it is imperative
to build rapport with each client.
I feel all input collected is very generalizable. Although the sample was small, there were
enough mutual responses to see common, overlying issues amongst participants. I definitely feel
this would be applicable to many social work/human trafficking agencies.
Conducting outreach to other agencies and law enforcement by collaborating knowledge
will prove itself effective in the way that everyone will be on the same page; resources can be
shared amongst agencies more successfully; and victims of any type of trafficking will no longer
be unnoticed, misdiagnosed, or in some cases - arrested. Helping victims obtain legal status
proves itself worthy when victims are given work permits and are finally able to access
resources, helping them thrive in daily life long-term. Unfortunately, there are challenges to both
of these intervention methods regarding law enforcement/government cooperation, but hopefully
this will change soon once more legislation concerning human trafficking is passed. In addition,
when agencies are able to hire more culturally competent employees, it expands the populations
that agency is able to provide help to. This is not an easy thing to implement (agencies are only
capable of hiring those who apply), but agencies should definitely make cultural competence
and/or multi-lingual employees a necessity in the workplace. Lastly, empowering and building
rapport with clients is also essential to effective intervention. Victims of human trafficking
undergo serious trauma and often have issues with trusting people, so building a supportive
relationship with clients becomes your first crucial task if you ever want to successfully help

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them. The only challenge service providers may face when trying to implement this intervention
method is if the social worker happens to be culturally incompetent and/or if language barriers
are present.
No one should ever be denied free will; children should never have to experience sexual
abuse; and most definitely, no one should ever be forced to submit their body for the sexual
pleasures of another. Human trafficking is a deceitful and corrupt violation of human rights and it
needs to come to an end. I believe the intervention methods being implemented today, as shown
in this study, are effective, but a lot of improvement still needs to be made. This qualitative
research study addresses commonly shared challenges between service providers and victims of
human trafficking, as well as provides readers/fellow researchers with feedback in regards to
what interventions are working and what needs development. According to the assessments I
have made personally regarding validity, I feel this is a pretty sound and reliable study. Although
the sample may have been small, the voices and views of participants were big and frequently
shared amongst each other, making it evident which concerns were most critical to the practice.

References

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Michael, A. (2009). A qualitative study of the experiences of service providers who work with
victims of human trafficking. ProQuest (Order No. AAI1466340). Available from
Sociological Abstracts. (60349445; 201024254). Retrieved from,
http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/docview/60349445?accountid=14925

National Human Trafficking Resource Center (2014, Dec) Retrieved from,


http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/state/michigan

Rubin, A. & Babbie, E. (2013). Essential research methods for social work. Independence, KY:
Cengage Learning.

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