TV Personality Shaun Robinson Pivots From Hollywood To Tackling Human Trafficking With Her New Foundation

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She is best known for her former role as host on the international Hollywood news show ‘Access Hollywood’, but there is a different side to TV personality Shaun Robinson that we have recently become enamored with. Aside from being one of the go-to names in entertainment journalism, Shaun has a passion to empower women and girls in specific areas and has launched a non-profit foundation in honor of this.

The S.H.A.U.N Foundation is an acronym for STEM, health, arts, unity, and neighborhoods. At the launch event in Detroit, Michigan in late August, where a team of powerhouse women were assembled to talk about the need to raise awareness about the topics the foundation will be focusing on, Shaun told Rollingout.com in an interview that she was inspired by the world of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and designed her own organization based off that.

Her non-profit has partnered with the Ford Motor Company Foundation to offer grants to smaller non-profits (which is what the Gates Foundation does) who are working hard in the particular areas the SHAUN Foundation is passionate about advocating for. It should also be noted that this isn’t Shaun’s first foray into philanthropy. Despite gracing TV screens across American and the world on ‘Access Hollywood’ for many years, behind the scenes she has been a board member for the Girls, Inc. organization, as well as the the NASA advisory council for Girls Up which is under the United Nations Foundation.

In 2009 she wrote a book on girls and self esteem called ‘Exactly as I Am’ and started an online movement, called ‘One Girl, One Voice, A Million ways to Make a Difference’ which encourages girls to talk about their volunteer work. After learning this part of her career, all of a sudden being an entertainment reporter isn’t the most impressive thing about Shaun Robinson!

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At the SHAUN Foundation’s launch event, the panelists (which included experts, leaders and sex trafficking survivors) and TV personality focused on the issue of human trafficking with the aim of raising awareness about how widespread a problem it is here in the United States. It’s easy to think of trafficking as an epidemic that happens to people in poverty-stricken, developing, or conflict-ridding countries, but sadly it is a global problem.

Shaun told Rollingout.com writer Porscha Monique that initially her foundation will work with a Michigan-based organization called Alternatives For Girls, whose mission it is to help homeless and at-risk girls and young women avoid teen pregnancy, violence and exploitation by giving them the resources, opportunities and support they need to live a prosperous life.

Shaun said the decision to focus on trafficking was to give local women the inspiration to get involved in their neighborhoods and know they can make a difference right where they are.

“We [need to] talk about this epidemic that is threatening and ravaging our community in a sister-to-sister safe setting. Michigan has a major problem with sex-trafficking, and so many girls are at risk, so we are going to have a panel of women who really care about this issue and are doing everything they can to combat this issue,” she said.

One of the objectives was to break down myths about human trafficking and what a typical victim looks like.

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“There’s this perception that girls who are victims of sex trafficking, either they’ve been kidnapped, and held against their will, or it’s the woman standing out on the street corner, but the fact of the matter is many girls who are victims of sex trafficking, they may live at home with their parents. They go to school and they may be forced to have to perform these sex acts after school, and then they go back home with their parents and do their homework and their parents have no idea,” she explained.

There is also the use of social media sites being used as a tool for recruited girls into the trafficking trade with the promise of money.

“These perpetrators are luring girls online through social media sites, they’re going on college campuses where girls are, and they’re luring them into this life. And a lot of girls are doing it from their own house, meaning, they live at home and they’re going out and doing it. And sometimes, they may be doing it because they want to get their hair done and their nails done, and buy the latest bag, and they’re thinking ‘I can make some extra money’,” said Shaun.

Although it is a huge problem across the United States, it is one that rarely gets the same level of media attention as, say, Hillary Clinton’s emails… If only mainstream media chose to report on this issue because these are young girls and children’s lives at stake.

While there is still need for comprehensive data analysis of the numbers of victims across the US, UNICEF estimate there were 1.4 million people caught in the human trafficking trade in 2014 alone. Worldwide, the number is said to be 27 million, which includes sex trafficking and forced labor.

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Every year during the Super Bowl, the FBI raise a lot of attention about sex trafficking by claiming it is a day when they see a spike in trafficking activities. There are critics who say this diminishes the issue because it happens year round, yet we need to see many more organizations getting the important message about trafficking through to everyday people. This is where the SHAUN Foundation, and the myriad organizations like Alternatives For Girls come into play as they are doing the day-to-day groundwork helping victims regain a life that has been stolen from them.

Another aspect of the sex trafficking problem that is not widely discussed is its link with the foster care system. At a symposium on human trafficking in 2015, California Attorney General, who is currently running for the US Senate, exposed some shocking details about this, saying up to 59% of children arrested on prostitution charges in LA Conty spent time in the foster care system.

This Huffington Post report from 2013 shares that the same year, 60% of the child sex trafficking victims recovered as part of a FBI nationwide raid from over 70 cities were children from foster care or group homes. It is both heartbreaking and anger-inducing to know that there is so much work to be done and every one of us has the power to make a change in at least one person’s life.

Thank you Shaun Robinson for using your celebrity platform as a means to empower women and girls, we hope to see great things from your Foundation!


 

 

 

 

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