Frequently Asked Questions

Does O.U.R. operate in the United States?

O.U.R. salutes our nation's law enforcement officers and prosecutors at the federal, state and local levels who protect our country's children. Law enforcement professionals skillfully investigate, arrest and prosecute those who violate children. Our nation's police efforts to protect children in the U.S. are light years ahead of many, if not all other countries. O.U.R. acknowledges the expertise and extraordinary work done by these dedicated men and women who bravely battle the scourge of child sexual exploitation. O.U.R. shares the mission to save children and seek justice for those who victimize them, therefore O.U.R. is committed to enhancing law enforcement efforts by providing resources where budget shortfalls prohibit a child pornography, child exploitation or human trafficking operation from going forward. O.U.R. will also provide or facilitate child exploitation investigative training in U.S. jurisdictions where a need exists. Collaborating with law enforcement will reduce duplication, promote best practices and avoid other potential issues which might arise without close coordination. O.U.R. is privileged and honored to support our nation's heroes in this important cause to deter, disrupt and dismantle child exploitation and the trafficking of children in our nation's communities.

Why did Ballard leave the government?

Ballard worked as a Special Agent for the Department of Homeland Security for more than ten years, where  he was deployed as an undercover operative. He spent much of that time as a member of the Child Sex Tourism Jump Team and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC)Task Force. He is proud to have worked in this position, as Homeland Security Investigations and ICAC are leading the way in combating trafficking and child exploitation. Because of jurisdictional restraints it was not legal for the US  government to engage in many cases overseas, particularly where there was no prosecutorial nexus back to the United States; however a private organization would have more flexibility. After much contemplation, Ballard decided to leave his position, realizing a public/private partnership between the government and a non-profit entity would be the ideal solution that would truly eradicate child slavery once and for all. Encouraged by those he worked with, Ballard founded Operation Underground Railroad in December of 2013, and the organization has since collaborated with the U.S. government on more than 65 child trafficking cases.

Who do I contact to request an O.U.R. representative to lecture at a venue near me?

To request a speaker, please complete this SPEAKER REQUEST FORM. Please remember we are a small organization and unfortuantely are not able to make every event, but will do the best we can to accomodate your request. 

Can I join the Operations Team?

We are not hiring Ops Team members at this time. If you would like to be registered in our system as our volunteer, please complete a volunteer profile. We will reach out if an opportunity comes up. 

I have a media inquiry and would like to speak to Tim Ballard or another O.U.R. representative for my story

All media inquiries can be sent to pr@ourrescue.org.

Where is my receipt for my tax deductible donation?

Operation Underground Railroad is a non-profit organization. Therefore, all donations are tax deductible. Currently donations can be made online or by mailing a check to:

Operation Underground Railroad
755 South Main Street, Suite 194
Cedar City, UT 84720

For those who donate online, you will automatically receive a receipt that can be used for tax purposes. Please keep the receipt for your records. Those who mail a check will receive a receipt in the mail. If you lose or misplace your receipt, please email info@ourrescue.org.

How can I get updates?

Email Newsletter: Once a quarter and once or twice a month we generate an email explaining the most recent events. If you would like to receive these updates, please click here.

Text Updates: If you are interested in being notified when children are saved, please text the word UPDATES to 51555.

Social Media: We will also be actively posting updates on our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts. Please follow or like us on those platforms if you wish to stay involved day-to-day.

How do I send you a donation?

Currently donations can be made online or by mailing a check to:

Operation Underground Railroad
755 South Main Street Suite 194
Cedar City, UT 84720

Does O.U.R. take trafficking tips?

We are not a law enforcement body and cannot investigate trafficking leads. If you or someone you know is in danger, please contact local authorities immediately using all relevant channels of communication including: telephone, email, submissions via law enforcement web sites, etc. Please leverage investigative bodies such as city police departments, county sheriffs offices, state police and federal law enforcement including the FBI or HSI. Alternatively you can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or visit their web site at www.humantraffickinghotline.org to report a tip.
 
We have compiled a guide of helpful resources to report potential human trafficking and exploitation cases — please visit this link for more information. Although we are not a reporting agency, if you have exhausted all methods as outlined here you may fill out the leads form included in the link above. Thank you!

How are donations used?

 

Can I get a refund on my donation?

If you have made an error in making your donation or change your mind about contributing to O.U.R., we will honor your request for a refund made within 15 business days of your donation. To request a refund, call (818) 850-6146 or email info@ourrescue.org. Refunds are returned using the original method of payment, except cash donations will be returned via check. If you made your donation by credit card, your refund will be credited to that same credit card.

What is the process to establish employer donation/gift matching?

The exact process is different for every employer, but any information your employer might require can be found on your donation receipt. Usually, after notifying your employer of your donation, the company will contact us and one of our representatives will handle the rest. If you have any questions about gift matching, please reach out to: grants@ourrescue.org or visit our gift matching page 









How much does it cost to rescue a child?

Each situation is different depending on travel, research, sting set-up, working with governments, aftercare etc., but on average one operation can costs anywhere between $50,000-$75,000 and each operation can save anywhere from 1 to 50 children.

What happens to rescued children?

Operation Underground Railroad rescue missions are always conducted in cooperation with government authorities. As such, when children are rescued, they are under the jurisdiction of the country where they are rescued and are placed into state custody. O.U.R. works with the government authorities to place rescued children in orphanages and rehabilitation programs which are predetermined and trusted by O.U.R. If family can be located, and it is determined that the family was not complicit, the child will be returned home to their family.

What happens to criminals?

Perpetrators are arrested, tried and sentenced. We follow this process every step of the way to make sure they can never kidnap and harm children ever again. We work with government authorities by providing evidence to assist with the investigation and prosecution of these criminals.

How are the proceeds from the O.U.R. Store used?

Proceeds are used to rescue children. Items purchased at the store are not tax deductible. If you have any problems purchasing items online, please email merchandise@ourrescue.org for further assistance.

Are you hiring?

We are currently looking to fill the below positions:

THERE ARE NO AVAILABLE POSITIONS AT THIS TIME

Can I volunteer or help with fundraising?

Please visit our Join the Fight page for more information on how to support O.U.R.

Does O.U.R. allow donors to watch live footage/ live streams of rescues?

We never live stream our rescue operations. Two documentaries, Operation Toussaint and The Abolitionists, were made and funded by third parties and contain real footage of our rescue operations outside of the United States. However, the identity of survivors and our undercover operators were protected, and the content was not explicit. Showing this footage helps our supporters understand the reality of sex trafficking and how O.U.R. assists law enforcement.

What is O.U.R.’s stance on conspiracy theories?

To be clear, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) does not condone conspiracy theories and is not affiliated with any conspiracy theory groups, like QAnon, in any way, shape, or form. From O.U.R.’s inception, we have been fighting for the innocent by partnering with law enforcement and other NGOs who share our same mission to eradicate child sex trafficking.

In order to effectively confront child exploitation and human trafficking in our communities, it is vital that everyone understand what is happening through the lens of accurate information.

Please see our full statement about staying informed with facts, not falsehoods, here

We encourage anyone who wants to join in the fight to learn more about the true realities of human trafficking and child exploitation. We also ask that you use extra care when engaging around these issues so as not to hurt the cause. By doing so, collectively, we will be able to bring protection and healing to more children in need.

Read our blog post “What Human Trafficking Really Is” here.

Does O.U.R. investigate suspicious products available for purchase from online stores? (i.e. Wayfair, Amazon, Walmart)

No. It is up to law enforcement to determine through investigation if there is substance to any such suspicions and/or conspiracy theories and any corresponding products that may be involved.

You are encouraged to exercise good judgement when reporting these and other issues to law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline. All tips are taken seriously, however, conspiracy-related reports from people with no direct knowledge of trafficking situations can overwhelm services meant for victims. 

Here is a link to our free online training about how to recognize the signs of human trafficking. If you have a legitimate tip to report, please see our comprehensive guide to reporting human trafficking and child exploitation.

Does O.U.R. help take down inappropriate products that sexualize children or that characterize child abuse/exploitation?

Our mission is to rescue children from sex trafficking and sexual exploitation and provide them with the necessary aftercare services to help them heal. Although there are inappropriate products available to the public for purchase, an investigation of this kind falls outside of what we do.

However, we have seen many community members successfully make a positive difference in causes they care about by raising their voices to influence change. We welcome this type of engagement and encourage community members to speak up when they see something inappropriate.

 

Can you repost a missing persons case on social media?

We are saddened whenever we see when people go missing, and hope they are found.

Unfortunately, we cannot share these types of posts on our main channels as we do not want to give the impression that we are actively involved in the investigation. Although the missing person(s) may be trafficked or exploited, we are unable to investigate without an invitation from law enforcement.

I came across a disturbing post and/or account on social media. How can I report it?

It is important to understand how and where to appropriately direct your lead, as not all leads are specifically human trafficking, but may be child abuse, exploitation, etc. Recently, a significant number of viral social media posts have been mass reported to various hotlines. Although each lead is taken seriously, everyone must share in the responsibility of ensuring that this type of mass reporting does not take away from services meant for victims and those in need of immediate help.

Learn more about where to report leads on our blog here

A man followed me and my children in a parking lot, and I feel as if I barely escaped a human trafficker. Is this true?

It is vital to be aware of your surroundings and observant of potential danger. Although there may be dangerous people lurking in public, these situations are not necessarily connected to the specific crime of human trafficking. It is more likely that a child would be targeted online to be trafficked or exploited, or that a teenager would be groomed by a stranger online or by an older family member or acquaintance. Most children and adults are forced into human trafficking by somebody they already know. 

Read more about what human trafficking looks like here.  

Take our free online training about the signs of human trafficking here

We have partnered with It’s A Penalty and actor Liam Neeson to bring you some facts about human trafficking in the US. Watch the video here.

Is O.U.R. actively lobbying for harsher sentencing of traffickers and predators?

It is outside of our mission to lobby policy makers, but we do our part to raise general public awareness of the issue and encourage individuals to write to their local representatives about what they can do to further protect children in their communities. Go to riseupforchildren.com to start your letter and contact your local legislators.

I am currently in a custody battle, and I think my child is being trafficked.

We apologize that we are unable to assist in ongoing custody cases in the court system. If you or a family member are in immediate danger, you should call 911 or contact local law enforcement immediately. For domestic abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline here.

Are you affiliated with #SaveOurChildren or #SaveTheChildren?

Over the past few months, the phrases and hashtags "Save The Children" and "Save OUR Children" have been accompanying conspiracy theories, often associated with QAnon, that O.U.R. does not support. 

Also, there is a non-profit organization called Save The Children which has been affected by the recent wave of these hashtags that pull the focus away from what they do. Although we do not have a connection with them, we want to respect their branding and not distract from the work they are doing for children in crises around the world.

Because of these reasons, you will find that we do not use those hashtags or phrases. We know there are many people wanting to make a difference and are using those hashtags or phrases while unaware of the obstacles they are creating. 

We do not approve the use of our name with #SaveTheChildren or #SaveOurChildren, and we do not collaborate with events that are affiliated with these phrases or hashtags.

The current hashtags O.U.R. uses are #ourrescue #EndHumanTrafficking

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