West holds anti-trafficking conference

Representatives from U.S., Mexico network for solutions.

by Sallyann Hood, M.D., Major –

Two councils of “war”— the U.S. Western Territorial Anti-Trafficking Council and the U.S. National Anti-Trafficking Council—convened at the Western Territory’s Crestmont campus in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., recently, to share information on the Army’s work against human trafficking in the United States and Mexico.

Territorial Social Services Secretary Major Allie Niles, with Trafficking Victim Services Coordinator Rohida Khan led the joint meeting. Kahn also serves as director of Network for Emergency Trafficking Services (NETS), a program that has already served over 200 trafficking victims.

Lisa Thompson, national liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking, who heads the U.S. National Anti-Trafficking Council, introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Melissa Farley of Prostitution Research and Education. Farley spoke on “Prostitution and Trafficking, Making the Connections.”

Wide representation and networking
Representatives attended from each of the Western Territory’s divisions, and from each of the U.S. territories and the Mexico Territory; all provided reports on the work being done in their areas. Although the Canadian Territory was not represented at the conference, The Salvation Army has a strong anti-trafficking work being done there also.

It was noted that the victim of a trafficking situation has multiple needs, which can be met by different government and private agencies. There is a need, however, to coordinate (case management) the possibilities for the significant degree of help that is available for the individual who often does not speak English (although not all “trafficked” victims are from outside of the U.S.), is terrified by her (his) circumstances that are so much different than she may have been promised—is dependent on her predator and often in debt to the same, having had her documents taken away, and is under considerable psychological strain regarding her own safety and that of her family who may be far away—and threatened.

Anti-trafficking contact information was circulated among those present to make possible referrals—even into Mexico.

Exploitation of children
The Salvation Army is involved with other organizations in multiple anti-trafficking plans. For instance, we are leading a national program to combat a related and overlapping issue—the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Each year 300,000 children in the U.S. are sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, nude dancing and other means. Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Army has developed a collaborative program entitled CCIP (CSEC Community Intervention Project). This cutting-edge program is the first of its kind to combat CSEC through extensive training and mobilization strategy in five communities, representing all four Salvation Army territories in the U.S.

Adam Freer directs CCIP out of the U.S. Western territorial headquarters; national headquarters is the official grantee.

The program has two phases, one of which has been completed:
1) Training Institutes (train-the-trainer) have been held in San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Washington D.C., Atlantic City, and New Jersey to prepare professionals to train others in how to develop a community response to the exploitation of children in all its many forms. At this point, approximately 200 professionals have been trained and they in turn have trained more than 5,000 others. Reports have already been received of children rescued and lives saved!

2) Comprehensive community response plans are now to be developed for each community—to include: prevention, intervention, service provision, and public awareness/outreach.
This initial program will allow for the development of training materials and a complete community response model that can be replicated and customized anywhere in the U.S.—and eventually internationally.

La Gloria project
The Mexico Territory is starting a trafficking prevention project in La Gloria, a suburb of Tijuana. Often, families leave their home states, desperate for the work being offered in the tourist areas or where there are foreign factories. The hours are long—and their children, who may have had extended family before to give them care—are suddenly alone for a significant amount of time each day. Long black limousines roll into outlying communities like La Gloria and well-dressed men emerge to talk with young children playing in the dirt. Does it send chills up your spine? It should!

The Salvation Army will offer protection to these little ones. For a substantially lower cost than other (over-crowded) day-care situations in the area, children (0-10 years of age) can remain from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. if needed, while their parents (or parent) work in the nearby Tecolote factories.

They will be fed and cared for—and have significant educational opportunities. Within the walls of the eventual new building, there will be two small rooms for victims who have been rescued, while other arrangements can be made for them to enter established programs. God willing, there will be an outpost and eventually a corps in this same building. Information about trafficking will be taught in the community—to give parents the tools to protect their children.

The Canadian Territory is partnering with Mexico to buy the property and to subsidize the program for three years in a small house that already exists on the property. For more information on the project, contact:

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