Empowering Young Men In Ending Sexual Exploitation

by Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE)

January, 2016

As we look forward to 2016, let us take a moment to look back at what some students said during 2015.  At the end of each 4-session program, we provide students with the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned and why they believe it is important.  Here are a few highlights:

  • “I was surprised to learn that 80-90% of [people in prostitution] were sexually abused as children, and that most start with prostitution when they are still children.  This is important to think about because you don’t always know what someone in that situation is going through.  They are hurt and don’t want to be doing it any more than anyone else would want to.  From now on, I will not judge these people.”
  • “The harm to society is that women will continue to get raped and exploited; it makes me think of what could be done to stop this from happening.”  
  • “I learned that porn and strip clubs are linked with trafficking, so from now on I am not going to watch porn.  Ever.” 
  • “It’s not okay to watch and enjoy seeing women get exploited and disrespected.  Now I don’t take porn so lightly anymore.” 
  • “I can’t believe how big this problem is.  It makes me want to do something to stop it, because I wouldn’t want this happening to somebody close to me, and everybody is somebody.  From now on, I am not going to disrespect women because you never know what they are going through, and you don't want somebody calling your mom ‘slut’.”

As always, thank you for your continued support of our prevention education efforts.  It is only through your generosity that we are able to reach nearly 2,000 students last year and equip and empower them to stand as allies against sexual violence and exploitation.  As one young man said last year, “It’s really important to think about these things, and spread awareness about it.”  You helped him do that.

Fall Update

September, 2015

This week marked the beginning of another school year, and Chicago’s half-million students are back in their desks.  CAASE’s educators hope to build upon the success of last year and expand the total number of school partners from 20 to 25.  The team has already begun scheduling workshops with existing partners, and has had promising meetings with potential partners.  Adding five more schools to the list seems like a very attainable goal for the 2015-16 school year.

One of the greatest contributing factors to the ability to increase capacity has been the team’s increase in size.  This year the CAASE prevention team will have an additional educator, bringing the total to three.  The team is ready to get back in the classroom and attended some training over the summer to help prepare.  The Communities in Schools Chicago Summer Institute offered seminars on teaching in a trauma-informed manner.  Given the sensitive nature of topics covered in the Empowering Youth programs, this was incredibly helpful to the whole team.

In addition to reaching out to high schools, CAASE is excited to announce that it will also be launching a prevention education program on college campuses.  It’s going to be SWEET.  The program, Students Working to End Exploitation and Trafficking, will be unveiled later this fall, and CAASE’s educators hope to bring the SWEET program to at least three colleges in Chicago.

As always, thank you for your continued support of our prevention education efforts.  It is only through your generosity that we are able to reach thousands of students each year and equip and empower them to stand as allies against sexual violence and exploitation.  As one young man said last year, “It’s really important to think about these things, and spread awareness about it.”  You helped him do that.  Thank you.

Progress Report on the Implementation of

CAASE’s Prevention Curricula:

Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation and

Empowering Young Women to End Sexual Exploitation

 

June, 2015

 

June not only means warmer weather and sunshine, but it also means that the school year is over.  The 2014-15 school year was tremendously successful for the CAASE prevention education team.  CAASE’s educators worked with over 2,000 students in 20 different high schools across Chicago.  These numbers, however, only tell part of story.  Let’s let the students tell the rest of it.

 

Here’s how students responded to the program this year:

 

  • “From now on, I will not call girls discriminating or dehumanizing names.”  When a man objectifies and dehumanizes a woman with his language, he becomes complicit in her exploitation.  Following the program, 75% of the young men said they would no longer engage in this behavior.
  • “From now on I will try to help out friends in unhealthy relationships.”  The majority of commercial sexual exploitation begins as a romantic relationship that becomes more and more unhealthy.  Following the program, 17% of the students indicated that they felt empowered to help a friend avoid this situation.
  • “I learned that strip clubs are not fun, and are not very safe.”  After learning about the realities of strip clubs, both young men and young women said that they would not patronize strip clubs, nor would they let their friends do so.  On a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being very likely, most students rated their desire to go to a strip club as a 1 following the program.  Most rated their desire as a 9 beforehand. 

 

Thank you for your support of our efforts.  Students who have completed the Empowering Youth to End Sexual Exploitation programs went on to say that the programs have “opened my eyes and brought more clarity along with awareness to this topic” and have inspired them to “respect everyone regardless of their gender” and to “raise awareness through social media.”  Please continue to support CAASE’s prevention team as we continue to empower the young men and women of Chicago to make a difference.

Progress Report on the Implementation of

CAASE’s Prevention Curricula:

Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation and

Empowering Young Women to End Sexual Exploitation

 

March, 2015

 

As schools move toward the end of the academic year, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation’s education team has been busy facilitating as many workshops as possible. With spring break approaching and summer following quickly after, educators have been eager to engage their students in conversation about sexual exploitation through partnerships with CAASE.

 

So far, in 2015 the prevention educators have:

 

  • Facilitated Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation with 124 young men between the ages of 14 and 18;
  • Facilitated Empowering Young Women to End Sexual Exploitation with 106 young women between the ages of 14 and 18;
  • Presented workshops on topics such as sexual harassment, consent, and human trafficking to young people between the ages of 14 and 18 throughout the Chicago-land area;
  • Scheduled presentations and workshops for the rest of the spring with the remainder of our partner schools;
  • Developed partnerships with 6 new school across Chicago;
  • Inspired an art exhibit that raised awareness of human trafficking in Chicago and was created by students at one of our partner schools.

 

Thank you for your support of our efforts.  Students who have completed the Empowering Youth to End Sexual Exploitation programs have described the programs as having “opened my eyes and brought more clarity along with awareness to this topic” and as inspiring them to “respect everyone regardless of their gender” and to “raise awareness through social media.”  Please continue to support CAASE’s prevention team as we continue to empower the young men and women of Chicago to make a difference.

It is sometimes hard to quantify the effectiveness of Empowering Young Men, particularly when the participants refuse to fill out the surveys.  It should be noted, however, that the refusal to write is often more about low literacy-levels manifesting as defiant behavior than simply defiant behavior.  This doesn’t mean, however, that we have no way to gauge success.  The opportunity often comes at the end of the final session when I ask the young men what they can do to be a part of the solution to the problem of demand for prostitution.  This question is often met with long pauses, even in the highest-performing schools, but recently I worked with a few young men who let me know that they had an answer.  Allow me to provide the transcript of the interaction—as best I can remember because I’m not allowed to actually record the sessions.  I’ve also changed everyone’s names, except my own.

(A classroom with 12 young men.)

Caleb: So, now that we see what causes this problem, what can we do to help solve it?

Nathaniel: What d’you mean?

Caleb: Well, are there things that all of us could start doing, or stop doing, that would help the situation?

Aaron: (raising his hand, while calling out) Yeah!  We could start respecting women.

Caleb: That’s a great idea, Aaron.  And what are ways that we could respect women?

Eli: (also raising his hand, while calling out) Stop calling ‘em bitches!

Caleb: Alright!  I like that, and thank you for raising your hand.  What about if you’re hanging out with your friends and one of them starts calling women bitches?

Aaron: (again raising his hand, and sort of waiting to be called on) Ooh!  I got this.

Caleb: Yes Aaron?

Aaron: Man I’d be like (standing up to demonstrate his idea through a dramatization) “Bro, you be tweakin’!”*

Caleb: Excellent!  You can hold your buddies accountable by calling them out when they disrespect women.

 

*to “be tweakin’!” generally (teen slang) means to be engaging in unacceptable or crazy conduct.

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Organization Information

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE)

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.caase.org
Project Leader:
Caleb Probst
Chicago, IL United States