By Michael P. Neufeld
Twin Peaks, CA – California is listed as one of the top three states in the United States for human trafficking.
Several agencies have joined together to offer a free training to help raise awareness of this issue. Mountain Counseling & Training, Inc. (MCT) in coordination with the County of San Bernardino’s Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) and Rim Family Services (RFS) is hosting the training session at the Twin Peaks Court House on Wednesday, January 23, from 4 to 8 p.m.
This training will be led by Anne-Michelle Ellis, coordinator of CASE and Deborah Donnelly, CASE Therapist.
“We’re at such a basic level, in terms of our understanding and awareness of the presence of human trafficking in our communities,” Ellis stated in a press release. “We must first understand that this is a local problem, and how to recognize when someone is a victim, before we can effectively be of service to them.”
“In the eight years that I worked at San Bernardino County Juvenile Hall,” Donnelly noted, “I met at least 15 young people from the mountain communities who were victims of sex trafficking. Trafficking happens in all communities. The goal of the training is to raise awareness in the mountain community and to begin to mobilize concerned mountain residents about this emerging threat to children.”
* Overview of types of sex and labor trafficking cases likely to be encountered
* How to identify and assess potential cases of sex trafficking
* The business aspect of commercial sexual exploitation
The commercial sexual exploitation of youth is a serious and pervasive issue affecting individuals, families and communities around the world. Exploiting children is a form of child abuse and those being exploited are victims of this serious crime. It is a complicated issue and, in response, the County of San Bernardino has formed a coalition made up of law enforcement and social service agencies at a local level to coordinate their activities to capture adult offenders and best connect exploited youth to needed services, according to a CASE brochure.
“We are looking to train a group of concerned individuals in the mountain areas,” according to MCT President/CEO Michael Beavers, “including those from community service, church, and the business community, so that we are ready as a community to identify and respond to cases of human trafficking. Following the training will be a smaller meeting of invited business, community, and church leaders at which we will brainstorm “next steps” for abolition work in the mountain communities.”
To register for the free training visit EVENT BRITE online and search for “Human Trafficking Twin Peaks.”
“Human trafficking trends are showing that there is a link to underage drinking and other risky behaviors,” Rim Family Services program director Colleen Myers explained. “Parents need to understand that this issue is affecting our area and be prepared to help their children navigate away from behaviors that would make them vulnerable, recognize symptoms, and teach their children refusal skills.
“Rim Family Services is so concerned about this issue that we have partnered with CASE to bring a curriculum called Deceptions to the youth on our mountain,” Myers continued. “It will empower them not to fall prey to traffickers or other forms of manipulation that teens face today. The whole community should work together to battle this issue in our area before it gets out of hand. If our communities aren’t safe for kids, they aren’t safe for any of us.”
“Our Rim Communities children are our greatest asset,” Rim Family Services Executive Director Aaron Scullin noted in the press release. “We strongly support CASE’s effort to raise awareness of the dangers that face our children and families. It is our hope that those who share our passion will take the time to come to this important training. Our kids are worth it!”
Free classes for students will begin early next year. The class will expose the lures of child sex trafficking and Internet dangers.