educating and empowering women

Monthly Archives: March 2017

I would like to announce that WIN has received a scholarship that gives us the license to offer this program for a year.  We want to bring as many members of the community together as possible and bring the education coordinator for the iEmpathize organization to Rome to conduct the program.  Organizations can then apply for their own scholarship and licensure without the expense of individually bringing the education coordinator to their facility.  We hope to offer this program in May.  If you are interested, please contact me via e-mail.  baker8483@comcast.net    Read the program description from their web site that is printed below.  Let me know your thoughts.

  iEMPATHIZE:  Mission: We equip adults to empower youth to eradicate exploitation.

People often want to know how iEmpathize manages to get exploitation prevention programming in front of youth at schools and other youth-serving environments. It’s true that in less than two years, The Empower Youth Program  exploitation prevention resource – has been ordered for use in nineteen states. That’s one hundred orders serving more than 8,000 youth in schools, juvenile corrections, after-school programs, group homes, homeless outreach, faith communities, and more. So how do we get it out there?

The answer is simple: Through collaboration and relationship with people like you, who are concerned about the trend of exploitation that so many youth run up against each day. Your commitment to youth’s right to preventative strategies means that we aren’t relegated to only recovering and rehabilitating youth after they’ve already been exploited. We can help them before it gets that far. Teachers, parents, community leaders, legislators, victim advocates, law enforcement personnel, teenagers: the list of people who have engaged to bring program to communities around the U.S. is lengthy and profound.

Your commitment excites us! That’s why we’re always looking for ways to expand the ways we help you do what you do best. So in 2016, we launched Advocacy Workshops to help task forces, coalitions, human trafficking advocacy organizations, and other community-based empathizers get the resources you need to make advocating for prevention easier, more effective, and totally achievable.

In August, we brought an Advocacy Workshop to Tacoma, Washington through Federal Way Coalition Against Trafficking. Thanks to the amazing work that FWCAT is already doing, they hosted two days of workshops for school personnel and other like-minded organizations to learn about The Empower Youth Program and advocacy strategies. The result is that The Empower Youth Program has now already been ordered for almost 3,000 youth and counting in the Tacoma/Seattle area!

We asked Brenda Shaw, co-founder of FWCAT to share what the Advocacy Workshop achieved for her community.

iEmpathize’s program, Empower Youth,  is a powerful tool to encourage empathy and empower youth and the community to demonstrate care for one another. It covers the subject of exploitation — from bullying to human trafficking.

Although the iEmpathize material is very user-friendly and easy to facilitate, our facilitators gained much greater understanding of the program by having their Education Director come to Seattle and share her passion and the vision of iEmpathize.  Her knowledge of the issue was valuable when sharing with those that might not have a clear understanding of human trafficking on a local and national level.

iEmpathize’s tips for facilitating the material were very valuable, but most importantly, they shared information that reinforced the program and the need for empathy and the ending of exploitation. The presentation is very engaging and their style draws people to share their experiences. They create an environment that allows open discussion among the group.

When we operate alone, we are limited. But through collaboration, the sky is the limit. As Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

While reading the Rome News Tribune several weeks ago, and then almost daily, I became very angry, then very sad.  Unfortunately, it convinced me that a project I am working on with the Women’s Information Network, Inc. (WIN) is even more urgent than I had originally thought.

What did I read?  First I came to an article that described the arrest of a middle school science teacher and girls’ soccer coach sentenced to 15 years in prison for sending pictures of his genitalia via Snapchat to 12 and 13 year old students in his class!  On the very next page was a story about a dentist in Polk County fined for sexual exploitation of a child. The investigation of his home found images classified as child pornography. This week another man was arrested for assaulting a young girl.

The relationship of pornography and child abuse and sexual trafficking are stunning!  The arrests that are occurring literally in our back yard make the problem undeniable.  Something must be done to open the eyes of the public at large and to protect our most vulnerable population of children. For us older individuals, the mysteries of computers—never mind “Snapchat” is foreign.  This MUST change!!! As the newspaper article reported, both criminals used technology for their crimes.

Well, you may think child pornography is bad, but it’s not that pervasive.  Oh, but it is. Sex trafficking is a $32 billion industry in the United States.  The demand for children for these productions begins in communities where our innocent or desperate girls are lured with promises of modeling careers, being taken care of, or being provided affection and protection.

This stage of recruitment is called “luring.”  It has been reported that runaways and homeless girls are picked up by traffickers within 48 hours of leaving home. If you are more affluent, don’t be secure.  Homecoming queens and “nice” neighborhoods are not immune.  Your mental image of a prostitute or pimp is probably quite outdated.

Sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime, second only to drug crimes.  It is less risky and more profitable.  Unlike drugs, once a girl is lured and “broken in,” she can be sold multiple times.  She has most likely been drugged, abused or beaten and is too ashamed and intimidated to report her captor—so there is little evidence for a conviction—like a bag of weed or crack pipe.

Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs.  (Georgia Department of Education)  Our children are vulnerable because they trust people familiar to them, or develop “relationships” on line that convince them to take compromising pictures of themselves that will become used as “sextortion” or abduction.

There is a demand for sexual services and pornography by members of every community in this country.  There is a profit to be made and individuals willing to use others for their own benefit.    It is called “Modern Day Slavery.”

Prostitutes (now called victims in the Georgia code) do not have to walk the streets—they can be ordered on line and available within 30 minutes.  Those in the world of pornography and trafficking say it is as easy as ordering a pizza!

We as a community must come together to denounce sexual exploitation– much like the Mothers Against Drunk Driving condemns driving under the influence. Everyone must become aware of the risk factors, signs of trafficking and hot line numbers for reporting suspicious activity.  Your observation might just save a child from a life of humiliation and bondage. I have learned that whether individuals are actually sold, or used by a trusted member of the community, the negative effects last a lifetime.

WIN has been working for several months on learning more about this problem in order to develop an awareness program for the community at large and for middle school students in particular. Waiting until high school is too late—the average victim is now 11-13 years of age. Through my work with the Georgia Commission on Women and lobbying day at the capitol last week, I now have enough solid information and resources to start the process.  I need everyone’s help.

How?  Help us gather groups together for educational programs, provide places to hold classes, post billboards with hot line numbers, work with law enforcement to get the required hotline numbers and resources posted in all hotels, restaurants and public areas. Give us an opportunity to offer the iEmpathize program to our middle school children.  This is a prevention program I just received licensing to use for a year.  It is being utilized in 19 states.  For content details go to iEmpathize.org

Schedule an educational program for all your employees.  Delta airlines just educated 50,000 of their 80,000 employees to help identify victims because they are moved from state to state.  During the recent Superbowl sex trafficking sting, 522 “johns” and 30 pimps were arrested.

We are a large medical community.  National reports say 80-90% of victims come in contact with a health professional, but are not recognized as being a victim of trafficking. Detecting the warning signs and symptoms should be in the curricula for all health professionals and part of the required continuing education.

Everyone has a role to play—hair stylists, manicurists, hotel managers, mall managers, law enforcement etc.  The list is endless. These girls are “hidden in plain sight.” Learn what to look for.  If a behavior strikes you as suspicious, ask the simple question, “Are you safe?”  Keep the National Sex Trafficking Resources hotline handy and post it anywhere you can get permission to do so. The number is: 1-888-373-7888.   https://humantraffickinghotline.org