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Assessing Changes in Attitudes, Awareness, and Behavior in Indonesian Youths

D&S Fellow Mark Latonero produced a working paper presenting research done in collaboration with Sheila Murphy, Patricia Riley, and Prawit Thainiyom at the University of Southern California under USAID’s C-TIP Campus Challenge Research Grant initiative. The research used a public opinion survey to assess how an MTV Exit documentary changed knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to trafficking vulnerability among the target population in Indonesia. The research also included a social media analysis to assess how activists in Indonesia frame discussions around human trafficking. The paper was produced under the Democracy Fellows and Grants (DFG) program, which is funded through USAID’s Center of Excellence in Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center) and managed by the Institute for International Education.

The researchers sought to generate data to inform the design of programs to raise awareness about trafficking among vulnerable populations and influence knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to trafficking. This paper focuses on research conducted in Indonesia by a team led by the University of Southern California (USC).

The USC team’s research in Indonesia included two components: a public opinion survey and an analysis of social media, both implemented in 2014. The public opinion survey was administered in Indramayu, West Java, Indonesia, a district with more than 1.77 million people that is a “hot spot” for human trafficking. USC administered the survey twice, with 527 participants; between the first and second wave, 319 of the participants watched an MTV Exit documentary on Indonesians’ experiences with human trafficking. USC conducted the social media assessment from May to July 2014, searching Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in Indonesia for posts containing one or more of seven key words that would indicate that a post was about human trafficking. Key findings include:

  • The MTV Exit documentary on Indonesians’ experience with human trafficking had limited effects on increasing the viewers’ knowledge of trafficking, awareness of vulnerability to trafficking, or intention to reduce vulnerability—suggesting that awareness-raising materials should be pretested to ensure that messages are compelling for and relevant to the target community.
  • Face-to-face engagement and discussion were the most effective ways to decrease misconceptions about human trafficking, trafficking vulnerability, and effective risk reduction.
  • Although there clearly were social media conversations about and activism around human trafficking in Indonesia, USC found no evidence of activists using Twitter to organize or augment a strategic advocacy campaign, so it may be useful to consider how activists in other countries in the region have used social media to disseminate information or build and leverage networks for collective action and social change.