Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Altruism in Society Campaign

In Collaboration with K. Otley, K. Freedman, and Q. Marques

The (Trafficking in Persons) Report, for the first time, includes a ranking of the United States based on the same standards to which we hold other countries. The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America (Clinton, 2010, para. 1).

According to the Trafficking in Persons Report (Clinton, 2010), the fight against human trafficking is a battle being waged in local communities. It is imperative Americans become aware of this crime's proliferation so individuals take responsibility and implement altruistic assistance in an effort to end this crime against human beings. In the campaign against this human rights abuse, the goal is to convince all citizens that we can neither claim immunity from its affect on our society nor shun the responsibility of confronting it. Using guilt and social responsibility, we aim to engage our audience.

The Nature and History of Human Trafficking

Slavery is present in a range of versions; however, all forms share similar attributes: slaves are required to work, are held or restricted by an “employer;” are dehumanized, and treated as merchandise, and are physically controlled (Brown, 2011). “Sex trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under 18 years of age” (Department of Health and Human Services, 2011, p. 4). “Human traffickers are highly organized into criminal syndicates that reap exponential profits exploiting vulnerable women and children (Brown, 2011, p. 3). The International Labor Organization claims 1.39 million American and international victims are forced into labor and commercial sex (Brown, 2011). Traffickers use an assortment of techniques to condition their victims: forced drug use, confinement, threats of violence to the victims’ friends and families, starvation, rape, the threat of shaming them by revealing their activities, and physical abuse (Department of Health and Human Services, 2011). Victims cope with health risks including physical injuries, sterility, miscarriages, drug and alcohol addiction, forced abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, and other diseases. Victims’ “psychological harm includes mind/body separation/disassociated ego states, shame, grief, fear, distrust, self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, suicide, and hatred of men” (Department of Health and Human Services, 2011, p. 1).

Women and children have been the primary prey of sex traffickers. This practice has recently become a political topic in the early 1900s. In 1902, the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slaves Traffic was outlined. Its function was to thwart the trafficking of women and girls for corrupt uses overseas (Webster College, 2010). This ultimately led to America passing the Mann Act of 1910 which “forbids transporting a person across state or international lines for prostitution or other immoral purposes” (Webster College, 2010, p. 3). However, the crime of sex trafficking increased during the middle of the century, thus, the United Nations attended to the dilemma. This was completed through the 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (Webster College, 2010). In 2000, the United Nations provided a detailed definition of human trafficking in the Convention against Transnational Crimes (Brown, 2011).

Human Trafficking: Affect on Society

Human trafficking is a pernicious crime in violation of the basic parameters of society. Its victims are reduced to a cheap commodity that can be traded easily and exploited internationally. Victims are typically transported between countries or traded within a nation. They are usually women lured by monetary gain, and held by the force of threats for sexual exploitation (Clinton, 2010). Children, helpless and inexperienced, are also victims, and easily exploited for sex or labor. The stress and physical and emotional abuse endured by human slaves is unimaginable. When children are trafficked, they have a high risk for developing severe issues ("11 Facts about Human Trafficking," n.d.). Some of these issues include mental health problems, drug and substance abuse, and a higher incidence of becoming prostitutes if they are released into society. Additionally, they are more likely to commit violent crimes in their lives ("11 Facts about Human Trafficking," n.d.).

The transference of diseases such as HIV and others such as tuberculosis is another affect on society. These diseases are commonly found among individuals sold into modern slavery ("11 Facts about Human Trafficking," n.d.). Disease, especially infectious and sexually transmitted ones are quickly passed throughout populations. Aside from the obvious violations of human and legal rights, human trafficking has a negative world wide economic affect because of the significant loss of "human and social capital" ("Human trafficking's dirty profits and huge costs," 2006, para 4). Additionally, it tarnishes the reputations of countries who do not prevent and intervene in such trafficking as it appears they are facilitators of the crime ("Human trafficking's dirty profits and huge costs," 2006).

The Campaign Strategy

Human trafficking has a long international and transnational history that has withstood law and punishment. In a broad sense this could be attributable to society in general possessing a lax attitude toward the problem. This element may be exploited in a campaign for an intervention strategy to address the issue. The social exchange theory suggests some ways to enliven motivation toward altruism (Meyers, 2010). To build a campaign persuasive enough to intervene and prevent human trafficking, it will require appealing to the audience with focus on Aristotle’s concepts of ethos and pathos. Combining these concepts will provide a campaign that will move the audience to take an active stand against human trafficking.

Elements of Persuasion

In this situation, the central route to persuasion seems the most efficient. This requires a compelling argument and emotional content that will provide that compulsion. According to Walker (2005) the concept of ethos and pathos developed by Aristotle refer to the emotional appeal of an argument and the credibility of the speaker. When harnessed, these two elements create a message powerful enough to persuade the audience to give their attention, and promote a corresponding change in behavior to significantly influence the issue. The emotional appeal of the issue will come from the presentation of the facts. The facts will display such conditions and treatment of the victimized women and children, which will provoke a sense of sympathy and injustice. These elements presented by the right person will speak to the altruism of the public.

Justification of Elements

With the foundation for persuasion in place it is important to ensure there is complete motivation to act. By way of social exchange theory an attempt will be made to build “. . . the most important benefit of generalized exchange and its presumed enhancement of social solidarity. . .” (Molm, Collett, & Shaefer, 2007, p. 206). A connection will be made to the audience appealing to their guilt by acknowledging that neither the audience nor their family members have had to sustain such abuse. According to social responsibility the audience will be compelled to take action to prevent the continuation of human trafficking. The message is a subtle appeal to the softer side of guilt, which strikes a cord of sympathy when the audience realizes the plight of the victims. The victimization occurs by no fault of their own, and the audience and their family will never be subject to such conditions. The unfair nature of the world is presented in its random applicability of fortunate versus unfortunate circumstance. Delivered by the right communicator the impact will be tangible.

Implications of Chosen Strategy

The campaign will instill a sense of guilt and social responsibility in the audience as the situation of the victims will encourage and inspire them to act altruistically to help end the suffering caused by human trafficking. According to Myers (2009) guilt is one of the most painful emotions and it compels us to act in ways by which we can avoid these feelings. In experiments in which people behave in ways inconsistent with their values and morals, they will do whatever is necessary to relieve feelings of guilt and restore their self-image (Myers, 2009). Establishing a sense of guilt will enliven their sense of social responsibility and altruism, and engage them to take an active role in the awareness campaign. By doing a good deed and helping, they will offset the guilt they will feel from their previous lack of awareness. According to Myers (2009), good comes from guilt. By motivating people to address their guilt and relieve its dissonance, they will become more sensitive to the issue of human trafficking and will want to maintain an association with the campaign.

People usually feel good about themselves after doing a good deed. The social exchange theory asserts individuals participate in an exchange when they believe the reward justifies the cost (Myers, 2010). The campaign will portray the exploitation of women and children in an effort to encourage helping to create a feeling of doing a good deed resulting in an internal reward. According to the theory of social exchange, social interactions contain an economic factor which demands attention (Myers, 2010). There are benefits to the giver as well as the receiver, and individuals unconsciously consider the balance of helping and its cost, and in such consideration people work toward minimizing costs and maximizing rewards (Myers, 2010). The campaign will promote a sense of responsibility and maximizing the internal reward produced from helping.

In altruistic behavior, individuals are motivated to help those not able to help themselves, or who suffer the ravages of forces beyond their control. The notion behind the social responsibility norm is people are compelled to help the disabled, impoverished, and others who must rely on the help of others without regard to future receipt. According to Myers (2010), when individuals attribute needs to uncontrollable forces, they are more compelled to help. When it is perceived that people's choices have contributed to their misfortune, people are less inclined to help. Human trafficking affects the lives of people defenseless against the forces of this crime and have a limited access to average protective services. Women and children are affected in large numbers (Clinton, 2010). Our campaign against human trafficking takes into account the helplessness and poor defenses of those targeted by this crime. Social responsibility necessitates the help of our audience because it is expected normal social behavior and guilt will necessitate the audiences involvement and continued commitment to the awareness campaign.


Human Trafficking has an age-old reputation of affecting the lesser able members of society, and now affects women and children in all corners of the globe (Clinton, 2010). As awareness increases and we see the affects of the crime in our national community, people are compelled by guilt and the internal rewards that may affect an altruistic change in people. The campaign uses persuasion as a means to create awareness and relies on guilt and motivating altruistic behavior to help those less fortunate without expecting the typical returns for good behavior. As posited by Aristotle, the effectiveness of persuasion is predicated on logos, pathos, and ethos ("Ethos, pathos, and logos," n.d.). Our argument against human trafficking is powerful, we have captivated the emotional character of our audience, and the credibility of our message is meritorious. We must rely on the selfless involvement and the social responsibility of all reasonable citizens.


11 Facts about Human Trafficking, (n.d.). Volunteer/Do Something. Retrieved April 21, 2011, from

Brown, G. (2011). Women and children last: the prosecution of sex traffickers as sex offenders and the need for a sex trafficker registry. Boston College Third World Law Journal, 31(1), 1-40.

Clinton, H. R. (2010). Trafficking in persons report 2010 (United States, U. S. Department of State, Secretary of State). Retrieved April 18, 2011, from

Department of Health and Human Services (2011). Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 19, 2011 from

Ethos, pathos, and logos. (n.d.). Durham Tech Courses Server. Retrieved April 18, 2011, from

Human trafficking's dirty profits and huge costs, (n.d.). Inter-American Development Bank. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from 02/human-traffickings-dirty-profits-and-huge-costs,3357.html

Molm, L. D., Collett, J. L., & Schaefer, D. R. (2007). Building Solidarity through Generalized Exchange: A Theory of Reciprocity. American Journal of Sociology, 113(1), 205-242. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Myers, D. (2010). Social Psychology (10th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Walker, F. R. (2005). THE RHETORIC OF MOCK TRIAL DEBATE: USING LOGOS, PATHOS AND ETHOS IN UNDERGRADUATE COMPETITION. College Student Journal, 39(2), 277-286. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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