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HOLLYWOOD, Fla., Jan. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Hard Rock International is marking National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, tomorrow January 11, by expanding action to strengthen the industry's role in combatting and preventing human trafficking. Human trafficking, which includes commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, is a complex challenge for the entire global hospitality industry because it intersects a range of organized criminal activities.
For several years, Hard Rock has implemented comprehensive protocols to increase awareness of and prevent human trafficking, including training over 27,000 hotel and casino team members globally and collaborating with community partners and advocacy groups. In May 2022, the company signed the ECPAT Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, the world's first and only voluntary set of business principles travel and tourism companies can implement to prevent sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.
"Hard Rock is committed to working with our community partners across the country and the world to innovate solutions that help prevent human trafficking," said Jim Allen, Chairman of Hard Rock International.
This January, Hard Rock is expanding and innovating its direct support for victims, survivors, and at-risk youth, through partnership programs.
Youth Employment Program with Covenant House New York
To help vulnerable youth avoid risks or escape a life of trafficking, Hard Rock is providing access to careers in hospitality. Through a partnership with Covenant House New York, the largest provider of runaway and homeless youth services in New York City, the program aims to enable youth to overcome systemic barriers, achieve sustainable independence, and break free from cycles of poverty and homelessness.
These hurdles can be particularly difficult for people of color, those within the LGBTQ+ community, or who come from backgrounds of poverty and abuse.
"Vulnerable and exploited youth need stable employment to transition their lives from the street to a better future," said Julie Farer, Executive Director of Covenant House New York. "This program seeks to not only offer jobs at Hard Rock, but to help these youth build careers by offering the experience, training and knowledge to build long-term futures in the global hospitality industry."
Participants will receive employment with Hard Rock Cafe Times Square and Hard Rock Hotel New York. After completing a 90-day transition period, they can work to forge opportunities across a range of roles, to learn and grow as hospitality professionals.
First Hospitality Company to Implement Twentyfour-Seven QR Code
Hard Rock is improving how the hospitality industry provides information and support to those who need it, while also deterring traffickers from targeting its properties. To advance communications, Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming represent the first hospitality company to pilot a QR code on its properties that will provide information on trafficking, and for those who may need it, direct access to immediate help resources.
The Twentyfour-Seven Anti-trafficking QR Code® was created by survivors to help those vulnerable to trafficking, the QR code sticker will be placed in bathrooms, elevator waiting areas, transportation waiting areas, and parking lots.
"Victims who are being trafficked are constantly fed false information by their traffickers," said Tsvetelina Thompson, Managing Director of Twentyfour-Seven. "The Twentyfour-Seven Anti-Trafficking QR code breaks the cycle by providing relevant and accurate information to victims so they may obtain help. Hard Rock is the first company in the hospitality sector to implement this program designed to help victims in bad situations. Using the anti-trafficking QR code will explain what laws and resources are available to victims."
When scanned, the person selects their location, selects prompts for the specific information they want, and can choose actions to take, whether it is calling for immediate help, filing a report, or understanding the law. The pilot will test the QR code stickers at properties in New York City, Hollywood Florida, Cincinnati Ohio, and Madrid Spain.
Expanded Education to Prevent Online Luring with ECPAT-USA
In January 2022, Hard Rock launched the Social Identity Quest, an education program designed to help teens understand risks of being lured online. Content was co-developed with experts at ECPAT-USA and EduNetwork Partners. By June 2022, 1.2 million students completed the curriculum, taught by 60,000 teachers in high schools across 45 states This innovative program increased students' human trafficking awareness and capacity to make informed decisions within social media practices.
The program is now being adapted to help prevent online exploitation amongst youth in Mexico, and indigenous communities in the USA.
"The Social Identity Quest (SIQ) helps young people examine how they interact and express themselves online," said Lori L. Cohen, CEO of ECPAT-USA. "This creative approach is successful with youth because online games resonate with them. Rather than allow sexual perpetrators to exploit social media by identifying and contacting young people, the SIQ provides strategies to help kids protect themselves. By adapting this successful program for Mexico and indigenous youth in the USA, we are extending its reach to prevent grooming for sexual exploitation and trafficking."
Local Champion with the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition
In the community of its headquarters, Hard Rock will join the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition (BHTC), community leaders and elected officials on January 21 to raise awareness about the plight and rights of trafficking victims. Hard Rock is the lead sponsor of the BHTC Town Hall and Community event, which takes place at The African American Research Library & Cultural Center.
Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies with venues in over 70 countries spanning 265 locations that include owned/licensed or managed Rock Shops®, Live Performance Venues and Cafes. HRI also launched a joint venture named Hard Rock Digital in 2020, an online sportsbook, retail sportsbook and internet gaming platform. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world's largest and most valuable collection of authentic music memorabilia at more than 86,000 pieces, which are displayed at its locations around the globe. In 2022, Hard Rock Hotels was honored as the number one brand in Outstanding Guest Satisfaction for the second year in a row among Upper Upscale Hotels in J.D. Power's North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study. This designation is the fourth consecutive year the iconic brand has been among top brands in this category. HRI is the first privately-owned gaming company designated U.S. Best Managed Company by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal for the second year. Hard Rock was also honored by Forbes among the World's Best Employers, as well as Best Employers for Women, Diversity and New Grads and a Top Large Employer in the Travel & Leisure, Gaming, and Entertainment Industry. In the 2022 Global Gaming Awards, Hard Rock was named Land-Based Operator of the Year for the second time in four years. In 2021, Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos received first place ranking in the Casino Gaming Executive Satisfaction Survey conducted by Bristol Associates Inc. and Spectrum Gaming Group for six of the last seven years. Hard Rock International currently holds investment grades from primary investment rating agencies: S&P Global Ratings (BBB) and Fitch Ratings (BBB). For more information on Hard Rock International, visit www.hardrock.com or shop.hardrock.com.
ECPAT-USA is the leading anti-child trafficking organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of ECPAT International, a network of organizations in 104 countries with one common mission: to eliminate the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children around the world. For more information, visit www.ecpatusa.org.