This week’s blog is about two new resources that can help prevent the tragedy of trafficking and can help with care of rescued victims.
Many kids who get involved in trafficking go into it without a fight. They are compliant victims. In fact, they may not see themselves as victims at all. Sadly, many of them see what is commonly referred to as “the life” as their only option. They truly have no idea that there are other options available to them. This is also true for rescued victims that go back to their former trafficker. It all comes down to options, and feeling as though they have none.
The same is true for young people who commit suicide—they choose it when they believe they have no other options. This is particularly true for young people who have known someone who committed suicide. When they’ve experienced the loss of someone through suicide, it’s as though that person “modeled that choice” to them. Retired therapist, Joan Sellers, who worked in the area of suicide prevention, stated that, “people who know someone who suicided are twice as likely to suicide because they consider it a viable option.” Couldn’t it also be true that young people who know someone in “the life” have an increased likelihood of choosing to become part of someone’s “stable?” With an average life expectancy of 7 years, the sad truth is that the only difference between the choices of a life of trafficking and suicide is the pain experienced and the time it takes to die.
Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense that if we want to reduce the likelihood that a young person will choose to go into trafficking or that a rescued trafficking victim will return to trafficking, one way to do so would be to provide the young person with additional options?
How in the world would a young person know what options were available to him or her? What if every foster parent knew where to find independent living programs, job-finding programs, Safe Families Plus programs, etc. to refer young people to? What if every social worker knew of local services for the homeless, domestic violence shelters, community services centers, churches with youth outreach programs, etc.? What if the young people could download an app that showed them every resource available within 5 miles of their present location? An app that does just that was developed by Los Angeles County Social Worker, former foster kid, and Army veteran, Ruby Guillen. Additional resources can be found at http://www.vanguard.edu/gcwj/trafficking- resources/. There are lots of resources available, but if young people aren’t aware of the resources or how to access them, they won’t.
NEW OPTION #1: One way that any interested person can learn about the issues, the challenges, promising practices, and available resources is through the Vanguard University’s Global Center For Women and Justice online Human Trafficking Certificate: http://www.vanguard.edu/gcwj/htcertificate/. Dr. Sandie Morgan, Director of Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice developed this certificated program so that anyone, anywhere can study the issues, be a voice in his or her community, and can spread the word about available resources for prevention, demand reduction, care of rescued victims, and every other aspect of human trafficking.
Right now, every one of us can let young people know that they have options! We can help to open the eyes of the young women within our influence to the opportunities that are available to them now more than at any other time in history. There is more opportunity now than ever in “STEM”careers, which stands for “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Still believe that women aren’t good at math? Ask former 12-year-old trafficking victim, Carissa Phelps, author of Runaway Girl, who holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, an MBA, and a juris doctorate. Or ask Ruby Guillen who, when she’s not working as a Social Worker is competing in “Hack-A-Thons” and teaching technology to young people. Ruby, along with her team at Humanistictech, helps to empower young people by teaching them the valuable and highly transferable skills that will give them powerful options for self reliance and independence for the rest of their lives.
NEW OPTION #2: Through a generous grant from a couple that adopted their only child from foster care and from Markel Services Incorporated, the Successful Survivors Foundation worked with three-time Academy award winning film producer, Jana Memel, to create a series of videos in which actors play out the scenarios that foster families experience. The actors show the interactions that sometimes lead to tragedy.
Then the narrator shares communications tools provided by foster care experts and thought leaders. The viewers then get a glimpse into the thoughts of the different characters. And finally the actors act out the scenario using some of the tips and techniques that, if used consistently, should improve the safety and relationships of everyone involved. The great news is that these videos are available 24/7 FREE OF CHARGE at www.getresultswithbetterconversations.com.
Our hope is that if kids feel safe and accepted in your foster home, they’ll be less vulnerable to traffickers because they’ll see that remaining in that safe, stable, welcoming environment IS the best option.
I’d like to hear from YOU about suggestions, resources, and options. Let’s connect at www.facebook.com/successfulsurvivors to help create successful survivors of the victims of abuse or trafficking within our influence.
Rhonda Sciortino, author of How To Get To Awesome, used the coping skills from an abusive childhood to achieve real success which she measures by good relationships, good health, peace, joy, and financial prosperity. Through her writing, speaking, and media appearances, she shares how others can use the obstacles in their lives as stepping stones to their real success. Rhonda can be reached at [email protected]