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Leveraging Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships to Improve Human Trafficking Prevalence Studies

January 5 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


How widespread is the problem of human trafficking in the United States? Understanding the scope of human trafficking prevalence is a priority for policymakers, law enforcement, researchers, and community-based practitioners. However, it can be difficult to accurately measure. This presentation will provide a brief overview of the strategies used to measure the prevalence of human trafficking, the importance of the engagement of community-based agency participation in this work, and a discussion of the benefits of taking a researcher-practitioner approach to prevalence research. The presenters for this presentation are currently collaborating on study to measure the prevalence of sex trafficking among adults in Sacramento County, California.

(Related article: “Advances in measurement: A scoping review of prior human trafficking prevalence studies and recommendations for future research” by K. Barrick & R. Pfeffer (2021). Journal of Human Trafficking. https://doi.org/10.1080/23322705.2021.1984721″)


Terri Galvan has a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Southern California and more than 20 years of experience working with unhoused women, addiction, and commercial sexual exploitation.  For the past 8 years, Terri has served as the Executive Director of Community Against Sexual Harm (CASH), where she leads a staff of trained peer-specialists providing assistance to women who have been commercially sexually exploited using harm reduction and trauma informed practices.  Terri has provided training to local law enforcement, colleges, non-profit organizations, and service clubs and has worked closely with various law enforcement agencies to advance demand and person-centered strategies.  She is a Principal Investigator for a research project estimating the scope of sex-trafficking in Sacramento County.  Terri is Vice Chair for the UC Davis Community Advisory Board and Stockton Boulevard Partnership.

Rebecca Pfeffer is a research criminologist in the Victimization and Resilience Research Program in RTI International’s Division of Applied Justice Research. Her research interests include better understanding and addressing the victimization of vulnerable populations, ranging from survivors of human trafficking to people with disabilities. Additionally, her work focuses on the law enforcement response to human trafficking and the collaborative efforts of law enforcement and victim service providers. Dr. Pfeffer is an expert on human trafficking and has participated in expert working groups on trafficking research with the Office of Violence Against Women, the McCain Foundation, the Cook County Anti-Trafficking Task Force, and the Human Trafficking Research and Data Advisory Roundtable, among others. Before joining RTI in 2020, Dr. Pfeffer was a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work at the University of Houston–Downtown from 2013 to 2020.

Kelle Barrick, a senior research criminologist in RTI’s Division for Applied Justice Research, has 20 years of experience in criminal justice and criminological research. She is an expert on human trafficking and has participated in expert working groups on trafficking research by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, among others. Dr. Barrick’s current efforts include estimating the prevalence of sex and labor trafficking; identifying successful strategies for the identification, investigation, and prosecution of labor trafficking cases; increasing our understanding of opportunities to disrupt sex trafficking recruitment and network operations; and conducting a formative evaluation of a law enforcement-based victim services program.



January 5
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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