A new grass-roots campaign encourages teenagers to drop an “F-bomb” to save a friend who may be a victim of human trafficking.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay initiated the campaign, Drop an F-Bomb, in early June to combat sex trafficking of young people.
Although it may seem vulgar, the “F” actually stands for something positive: friendship.
“We thought about playing on a vulgarity [to turn it] into a symbol of hope. It [is also] a call of action,” said David Braughton, president and CEO of the Crisis Center. “A friend does not let these things happen to their friend. They take some action.”
Drop an F-Bomb is funded by the Crisis Center’s Women in Action group and the Lightning Community Heroes program. The campaign is a joint effort of the Crisis Center, the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the Tampa-based advertising agency Dunn & Co.
Dunn & Co. got involved in the campaign as a public service project and worked pro bono to create more content for the website.
Some of the campaign marketing plans include advertisements, signs, marketing events, T-shirts, stickers and more.
Social media is one of the main tools being used by the campaign to catch the attention of teens. Drop an F-Bomb pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are using the hashtag #fbomb211 to promote the campaign.
“Maybe we'll get lucky and the Obama kids will find out about it and tell [Mrs. Obama],” said Glen Hosking, creative director at Dunn & Co. “It might be something that they'll get behind.”
The Drop an F-Bomb website eliminates stereotypes of what a pimp might look like. It also provides warning signs of when a friend may be at risk.
Some signs include dating an older guy, having a lot of cash and keeping a second cell phone.
The campaign encourages the friends of potential victims to call 2-1-1 if they think that one of their friends is being trafficked. This way people can get the resources they need to stop trafficking from happening.
“We want to be sure that kids are armed with all of the information that they need and that they also have information about the 2-1-1 phone number,” Hosking said.
Calls to 2-1-1 are completely anonymous. One call can make a difference.
Human trafficking doesn’t just happen to at-risk teens.
“Trafficking knows no social economic bounds. Even girls who are raised in 'caring' families can find themselves in that place in adolescence where the attention of an older male and somebody who is buying them gifts and showing them 'love' and 'respect' is very appealing and very seductive,” Braughton said. “Before they know it, they think they're in love, and then this guy is asking them to help pay for some of what he's doing by walking the streets and so on.”
Since 2009, almost 200 children have been identified as victims of child sex trafficking in Tampa, said Giselle Rodriguez, state outreach coordinator with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
Unfortunately, human trafficking occurs both nationally and globally.
One of the goals of this campaign is to eventually bring an end to trafficking altogether, Braughton said.
“Ultimately, if we could break the back of human trafficking, specifically trafficking young kids, that would be the ultimate goal. The short-term goal is every child that we can save from a life of misery and exploitation,” Braughton said. “Every child that we can do that for is one step closer to that ultimate goal of hopefully ridding our country of this horrible, horrible curse.”