by Matt Alderton | May 23, 2018
Meetings management company ConferenceDirect has joined the fight against human trafficking by signing the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, an effort by anti-trafficking group End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) to create a community of tourism businesses dedicated to finding and stopping human traffickers.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 100,000 children have been sexually abused and exploited in the United States in the past year, and millions more are exploited around the world. Travel infrastructure is sometimes used in trafficking and exploitation, through commercial airlines and buses used to transport children, online classifieds used to lure travelers, and hotel rooms used as sites of abuse.

ECPAT's Code of Conduct is the only voluntary, industry-driven set of guidelines that focuses on the elimination of child exploitation and trafficking. Signatories agree to take six steps that will help ECPAT fight child exploitation and trafficking:

1. Establish a policy and procedures against sexual exploitation of children.
2. Train employees in children's rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation, and how to report suspected cases.
3. Include a clause in contracts throughout the value chain stating a common repudiation and zero-tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children.
4. Provide information to travelers on children's rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation of children, and how to report suspected cases.
5. Support, collaborate, and engage stakeholders in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children.
6. Report annually on their implementation of Code-related activities.

"We're proud to have signed ECPAT's Code, to make an impact and help prevent sexual exploitation of children in the tourism industry," said ConferenceDirect CEO Brian Stevens. "Our associates travel often, and with the tools and training we continue to learn, we will all be more alert to potential situations."
Stevens signed ECPAT's Code on May 22 in Washington, D.C., where he was joined by Carol Smolenski, founder and executive director of ECPAT-USA, ECPAT International's U.S. chapter.

"We are honored to partner with ConferenceDirect to fight child sex trafficking in the global meetings industry and beyond," Smolenski said. "ConferenceDirect joins a family of leading companies committed to ending the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism by taking six steps including staff training and adopting a policy against sexual exploitation. This signing represents the latest step forward in reaching that goal. We especially thank Brian Stevens and ConferenceDirect's leadership for championing this vital cause to protect children from exploitation."