Nonprofit uses Virtual Reality in Child Safety Program.
Radical Empathy Education Foundation (REEV), a nonprofit organization fighting sex trafficking, uses virtual reality to educate kids. REEV will run a pilot of their VR child safety program at the McCallum High School in Austin Independent School District, Texas.
In Texas alone, there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking, including almost 79,000 minors and youth victims of sex trafficking and nearly 234,000 adult victims of labor trafficking, according to a 2016 the University of Texas Study.
For the 2018-19 school year, McCallum was selected as the Pilot School for the launch of the child safety education One Generation program from the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Radical Empathy Education Foundation. The program teaches children about the dangers of meeting a stranger online, recognizing an unhealthy relationship and to recognize and avoid sex trafficking.
One Generation blends traditional classroom materials with a Virtual Reality (VR) experience to provide a 360° view of how this could happen to anyone. Students are taught signs to watch for and then experience them in a safe, interactive environment, giving them needed skills in case they or a friend are in trouble.
“Achieving our mission to end trafficking in one generation starts by raising awareness and teaching children what to look for,” says Billy Joe Cain, REEF’s CEO and co-founder. “We need to make people care and feel empathy for these victims. Immersive experiences and stories in VR can do that.”
Research shows dramatic, measurable metrics: VR increases retention rates of learning objectives by 50%, makes people 40% more confident in what they learn, and raises interest in learning more by 40%.
“We hope to meet or surpass our fundraising goal for McCallum,” says Cain. “We are proud to have them as our Pilot Location. We see great things together.”
At the 2018 Texas Association of Student Councils’ Annual Conference, REEF demonstrated and spoke to almost 1000 students. Even though their annual cause was human trafficking, we surveyed 279 attendees and 84% reported disappointment with their high school’s anti-trafficking education efforts. One said “Our school is afraid to talk to us about sex, much less sex trafficking, so they didn’t offer us any training. Who are we supposed to learn from?”
McCallum High School has 1700 students and the team at REEF hopes to reach as many as possible. Donors interested in helping support McCallum can visit the Radical Empathy Foundations site.
Radical Empathy Education Foundation’s mission is to end minor sex trafficking in one generation. REEF is an Austin-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that develops and distributes blended technology-enabled educational materials to prevent child exploitation.
One Generation was created with assistance from UNICEF-USA, ECPAT-USA, Texas Attorney General’s Office of Human Trafficking, Prevent Human Trafficking, and other anti-trafficking groups.