25 – Ensure Justice 2012 Conference Highlights

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The Global Center for Women & Justice recently hosted the Ensure Justice Conference, the Center’s annual conference to help people study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in bringing justice to women and girls. Sandra Morgan, the Director of the Global Center for Women & Justice and Dave Stachowiak, one of the Center’s board members, discuss lessons from the conference and how we can best implement those lessons.

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Dave: Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast, this is episode number 25 airing on March 30th, 2012. Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast, my name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandie: And I’m Sandie Morgan.

Dave: And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, we have been certainly working hard in ending human trafficking especially over the last few weeks because just a few weeks ago was Vanguard’s Global Center for Women and Justice annual conference and we are here today to share some of the results and some of the knowledge and some of the conversation and dialogue that came out of that conference for those who are listening across the globe who obviously weren’t able to attend it in person hopefully can get a small piece of what we were able to do at the conference here.

Sandie: I’ll tell you Dave, Ensure Justice 2012 was absolutely amazing, the highlights and the takeaways, we could spend hours talking about it.

Dave: And we had a great turnout this year too.

Sandie: Oh yeah, and they came from a lot of different walks of life, public and private and I think that was the big takeaway, we talk about collaboration, we talk about community engagement, we talk about public and private sectors, but it doesn’t work if the public sector professionals aren’t there, if the community volunteers and community resources aren’t there. So at Ensure Justice 2012, they came. The judge, the prosecutor, the probation officer, the juvenile detention supervisor, the child welfare and social service provider, the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force members and church leaders, after school program directors, non profit directors and everyday people and students of course, at Vanguard. The students are key in the whole process. But they came, and at the end of every plenary session, the conversation was about collaboration.

Dave: Yeah, it’s such an important topic that we’ve talked about so many times on this podcast and in fact one of the sessions I facilitated at the conference was about that fourth key in the ending human trafficking and persons report. And we talked about that fourth ‘p’ and the importance of partnership and we often haven’t talked about our partnership with the business community and really raising awareness around this issue and really partnering from the standpoint of resources and tools and knowledge and because of our ability to engage in that conversation I do think people, I hope, walked away with some new perspective on new ways to engage not just the non-profit world and not just the faith based community, which has been wonderful supporters of fighting this issue but people in the business world who care deeply about this issue, many of them, so that was really exciting to see and  be part of those conversations. I know that you have a tremendous number of notes for us and things for us to take away, so let’s jump in.

Sandie: Oh my goodness, well I am glad that you said that about partnership though, because I think at the beginning of any overview of what we are going to do, we have to start with assessing what is our own expertise and what resources do we bring to the table? We can’t just say oh I want to do that, unless we have the resources to do that. For several reasons, one of course, we are going to end up in big trouble, but secondly, if we say I want to do something and we say I am going to do it and then we don’t have the expertise and we don’t have the resources, we overpromise, under-deliver and we compromise our reputation in the community and we make it less attractive for the public sector to engage with us because oh, we’ve done that before and it didn’t work out so well, they said they were going to do this and they didn’t show up, so we want to keep that in mind in any effort, on collaboration and community engagement, so if you are interested in more details about the conference, if you are interesting in ordering CDs or DVDs from anything we talk about now, that will be available on our website at GCWJ.vanguard.edu.

Dave: And we probably should mention before we get started here, Sandie, is if you do have any questions or comments about anything we do today and of course any questions on human trafficking prevention efforts in general, Sandie of course has tremendous expertise at the Center at Vanguard. You can reach out to the Center for Women and Justice here at Vanguard University anytime at (714) 966-6361, and if you don’t reach us live, leave a message and we will get back to you. We also, if you’d like us to respond to your question here on the show and you can also email out to us at GCWJ.vanguard.edu, and of course that stands for the Global Center for Women and Justice.

Sandie: Great, so we started our day with a panel from Las Vegas that works with this particular population of commercially sexually exploited girls, Esther Brown is the victim’s service person and Craig Christianson supervises the detention facility and they brought with them a considerable amount of expertise based on experience and we kept on hearing over and over again, we need a safe house, we need a better place, we need a way to treat these kids like victims but also keep them in a place where they are safe and secure, because 85% of them run when you put them in a group home or in a place where there isn’t any way to keep them from running away, and I hate to use the word locking them up, but in a sense that we need to protect them may include a secure facility, but do they really need to be in a  detention facility? That’s the question.

Dave: And forgive my ignorance on this Sandie, I didn’t see this session, are there not safe houses available for victims?

Sandie: Not in that particular design, which is why in Las Vegas, these kids are admitted and detained in the juvenile detention facility. They have a protocol where they provide specific resources for these kids and they follow them and they do everything they possible can for a better outcome and they partner with the community and a lot of community resources come to the table, so you are seeing collaboration models, but they really have a vision and a goal and they have a separate safe, secure facility for these kids.

Dave: And I am guessing that the challenge here is that although they have broken the law and have committed a criminal act, in many cases, they are as much the victim, or even more the victim than they are the perpetrator, and really they need to services and the security and the help from the community to get on their feet and that just isn’t there and they tend to be treated like criminals when we get into situations like that.

Sandie: And that was really one of the themes of the day, how are we going to keep them safe but also treat them like victims, and we moved on then to hearing a compelling story from Karissa Phelps who is the author of a soon to be released autobiography, “Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Street, One Helping Hand at a Time.”

Dave: And a guest on one of our Human Trafficking Podcasts.

Sandie: Right, oh my goodness, her story, she is a compelling speaker, she is evidence that a victim does not need to stay a victim, she is now a survivor advocate, she has a law degree and an MBA, and she is making a difference. Her story is evidence that we can see a great future for these kids, they are not throwaway kids, she has a voice for treating them like victims, for finding ways to individually design treatment programs which in this day and age, where budgets are constantly being challenged, that’s not going to be an easy thing to do, which is why we wanted to start the conference with this conversation and then we want people in the community to assess their expertise and their resources to see where they begin to be part of the big picture. There really isn’t an organization or an agency that can take on the whole issue, it has to be collaboration but as we have heard many times, collaboration is messy, and it takes time and it takes sitting down and talking, we closed out the afternoon on Friday with another panel with Judge Doug Honjimonji of Orange County, and Gerard Bergeron from Juvenile Probation and Marissa Wetton who was our victim service’s rep from the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, and their panel was particularly interesting because they are trying to establish new protocols when they pick the kids up right at the beginning, so before they are in the system, they are making sure there is a victim’s advocate, a probation, juvenile probation person as well as the arresting officer, so the typical scenario is, a 14/15 year old is picked up for juvenile prostitution and that is the name of the crime, and then what happens next, if this is a minor, this girl is under 18, then we already know by definition by the TVPA, federally that she is considered a victim and there will be victim resources because she’s not of an age where we have to prove force, fraud or coercion, so they’re trying to be more intentional and preemptive in introducing a new strategy so they start treating here like a victim even though they are taking her to a secure facility that we call a juvenile detention facility which sounds like prison to a 13 or 14 year old.

Dave: Sure.

Sandie: So, they didn’t have any solid answers for us, but they introduced more of the issues for us, which was very helpful.  We closed out Friday with a plenary session that we’ll have to do an entire program around the work of Jeremy Combo from New York City the Children’s Village, he really helped us see who these kids are, whether they ever get picked up and taken to Juvenile Detention, they are in our residential emergency services. They are in line waiting for a foster home and he said to us, “In our experience, the Children’s Village experience the overwhelming majority of the children we work with were exploited first at home or within the safety which should have been the trust and the protection of family.”

Dave: Sad, isn’t it.

Sandie: Well, and it begins to make us think about, “Okay, so instead of looking at what can we do when they are picked up by law enforcement, what can we do when they are in the streets trying to survive?” I think Karissa Phelps challenged us with that. What can we do to make sure that they have a safe place? Dr. Jeremy Combon named his plenary session, “From Betrayal to Trust” and he asked us to consider seen constructive behaviors, he suggested these seven things: Be brave at home in church or in your faith community, in your non-profit, your charitable organization, and make sure that these kids are not hurt right in your own trust community. And there are situations where we aren’t public about what happens, and he challenged us, he challenged that “we’ll take care of it, its part of the family.” How do we address that? He said be vigilant because the pimps, pedophiles and perpetrators want to be inside out organization and there is a growing awareness, if you have children’s ministry, that’s attractive to a perpetrator. How do we do a better job or establishing protocols that will protect our mission to serve? Third he said be sensitive and respond very forcefully to any kind of language that describes children in a negative way who has been exploited. And of course, I loved that. You know me, I don’t want people to call these kids “teen prostitutes” I want them to call them Commercially Sexually Exploited Children because it defines what the real experience is. Somebody is making a profit by exploiting a child. Then he said don’t fall in love with the clinical label, and I was like what is that about? He is talking about traumatized and pseudoscientific labels and then he really boils it down to one thing. For these children, the only panacea is true belonging to someone who will not exploit them again, and he continues to remind us of that when he goes on to his fifth point, be a witness, keep your eyes open, watch, be a voice to what you see to validate kid’s experience, and then be patient, this is damage that lasts a lifetime and you cant have a 30 day rescue house and expect to turn out all-better situation in 30 days, its going to take a lot of time.

Dave: Yeah, a lot more complicated than that.

Sandie: And he challenged us finally with the fact that he says the government has no solutions, and here we are bringing the public sector and the private sector together in the conference on purpose, but he really summed up how important that collaboration is. He said there are no government solutions for rebuilding lives. These children need relationships, and he tells us that the mantra at the children’s village is “One appropriate and stable adult relationship, that’s it.” And he closed with these remarks, because there are so many people who say, “What can I do?” and he said, “Here’s what you can do: step up and make long term commitments to children, and I don’t mean just making the commitment to cute, personable children, I am talking about the commitment we make to the girl who is not as attractive, the girl who’s personality is destroyed by the abuse, the girl who is not white or Caucasian, the girl who doesn’t want to trust again. The girl who pushes us away by her behavior, attitude, look, and general incorrigibility, we need at least one person for each of these girls, are you willing to be that person?” Wow. It was quiet. Not a word.

Dave: Yeah, it’s a tough challenge for all of us, Sandie, to look at how we can be a part of that. It’s a huge need.

Sandie: Well, and the good news is that we didn’t leave you in a place sitting there thinking, “Wow, now what do I do?” we can back on Saturday and on Saturday we really focused on how do we be that person for that girl? Mary Wickman who is the director of our nursing program, which by the way Dave, we start in the fall with an MSN and I am really excited about that.

Dave: We do, we do, and I am going to be teaching in that program.

Sandie: That’s great.

Dave: I am excited, and Mary Wickman is just a tremendous resource to Vanguard and also has done a lot of research around youth and risky behaviors that youth take and just, has a tremendous amount to teach us about this issue.

Sandie: She did a presentation on her research, the Adolescent Perception of Invincibility and its Meaning for Teen Exploitation, and bottom line, what we have discovered is educating teens, prevention programs that go into high schools and junior highs is not enough, its not enough because the idea of invincibility, the framework of invincibility creates a situation where the child says “Well, its not going to happen to me, I am smarter than that.” And yeah that’s a plenary session you will want to make sure you download and listen to. Workshops were designed to help people focus on the area of expertise or resources that they particularly felt they might be able to help with and Dr. Joanne Beutrine discussed community health implications of sex trafficking and presented a great model that she called “Ten Ten Ten” as she closed up with all of the different things you could be doing to address this as a community health issue, she challenged people to assess what their resources and expertise were, then make a commitment to either ten minutes or ten days, or ten months, but everybody can do something and  she created some lists of things that could fit in those columns, so that might be something you might be interested in learning about. Tina Feigl, “Parenting the Rescued Girl, Using Effective New Ideas that Work” Absolutely rave reviews, I cant tell you how many emails I got afterwards, people want to know more, the idea that we cant just put these kids into regular programs because of the abuse, because of the trauma, they need particularly individualized attention and treatment modalities, so how do you prepare for that? Well, teaching foster parents how to foster parent kids out of this situation is going to be really important.
Dave: That goes right back to what Jeremy challenged everyone to do, and not just take the challenge, but here is the resources of how to actually go about doing that.

Sandie: And fortunately, I mean that was our hope for our strategy for how we constructed to conference, we have this challenge, but now were going to put tools in your hand, and these are some of the tools. Karen Berstrom from Olivecrest Safe Families, and Pastor Danny Delion from Santa Ana did a great job of giving us a model for how we can help by being a family, again back to Jeremy’s belonging, belonging, and how do we prepare and what modalities are already in place and Olivecrest is a great place to go and be trained and to be part of something bigger that does address this. Lynn Young from OrphanCare here in Orange County had great community strategies for getting involved in Fostercare and after school programs and in commitments to that one child and setting up a team that supports one child and I think that is a fabulous idea and I think we really enjoyed learning about that particular strategy and Amelia Frank Meyer, her workshop, “Stop Blaming the Victim, Understanding Grief and Loss in Traumatized Youth.” When I am with people and we are driving down the road and you see a girl standing on the corner and someone says, “well, what can she expect dressed like that?” my heart breaks because I know the person who just said that really doesn’t understand why she is there. Amelia helped us understand what she has lost and why it doesn’t matter anymore and then what can we do, what can we do.

Dave: It’s easy to just look at what is right in front of you and to criticize and to judge, but often we don’t see the years that has lead up to that and the situation that those children have been in, Sandie, so its so important and I am so glad that we try to do not only the work that the Global Center does, but on the podcast here to really look at the complexity of these issues because they are very, very complex. If they were simple we wouldn’t have to have this podcast.

Sandie: Good idea, I think from the perspective of stop blaming the victim, if we started, every time we saw a little girl that’s dressed in an inappropriate way, whether or not she has been involved in any of the stuff we are talking about, but if she is just on her way to school, instead of criticizing we have to start thinking about why is this happening? And why is hypersexualization of children such a media driven force? And what can I do to stop that? And one of the things we are going to do next year in our conference, which this is a time for you to pull out your calendar and write “save the date” for March 8th and 9th for Ensure Justice 2013, you don’t want to miss it. We are going to talk about cybercrimes against women and children and this whole idea of media driven hypersexualization of children and normalization of sexual harm.
Dave: Huge issue.

Sandie: That has to be part of our understanding so that we stop blaming a child who didn’t drive that, they are basically, its like being caught up in a wave. Here in Southern California, we have alerts sometimes that surfers shouldn’t go out because the waves are too big and that’s what happens to a child, they get swept away on that media wave. How are we going to change that? That’s going to be our focus next year.

Dave: Fascinating.

Sandie: The next panel that we had on Saturday afternoon was one of my favorite sand I just have to keep going back and say having public professional sector show up is where community begins and my thanks and my applauding goes out to judge Doug Honjimonji, to Las Vegas Juvenile Prosecutor Theresa Lowrie and to San Bernadino Juvenile Prosecutor Tamara Ross who were on that panel and we brought in Karissa Phelps to be on that panel too, and we asked the questions about prosecuting juvenile offenders or protecting juvenile victims, it was a very lively conversation and the issues are very complex, how do we do this, and there is a sense from a juvenile prosecutors perspective that this is in the best interest of the child, of this teen, so how do we have that conversation? Then Karissa, her response is, to be treated like a criminal, and Karissa experienced this.

Dave: First hand.

Sandie: She had her, she had to stand in line and wear the juvenile hall clothes and follow these guidelines being locked up, and hearing that, you are like “Okay, I agree with Karissa.” Then I listen to Theresa and I am thinking, “Wow.” So I thought in order for me to do a good job of reporting on that to you, it would be better to hear from one of our prosecutors. So our next podcast is going to be an interview with Juvenile Prosecutor Tamara Ross.

Dave: Oh, great.

Sandie: So, isn’t that a great place to end today? Knowing that we are going to finish this on the next one?

Dave: Yeah and that’s going to be on the next one that is going to air on April 15th, 2012, so we will be sure to be back with that episode here in just a couple of weeks, and yeah I am glad we are going to be able to talk to her in more detail, Sandie, and to really bring the perspective of the conference for people who weren’t able to be there and by the way, you’ve done a tremendous job of summarizing in 20 minutes here, the conference, I am amazed of being able to pull 2 days into that period of time. For those who wanted to really go more in depth and even get the conference recording, I believe those are available, what is the best way for folks to go about that, Sandie?
Sandie: Just go on our website, GCWJ.Vanguard.edu and we will have an order form and some links set up so you will be able to access that depending on what kind of media you would like to have.

Dave: Great, well that is a great resource for folks who weren’t able to make it in person and hopefully you would consider coming to the conference next year and again those dates Sandie mentioned are March 8th and 9th, 2013 and the topic is going to be Cyber Crimes against Women and Children which we all know is a huge, huge topic and so much to cover there. We could probably do a week’s conference there and still be just scratching the surface and you know I think that brings us to our final point here today, Sandie, as this is a very overwhelming issue, and because its such an overwhelming issue, it is important for us to talk about, its important for what the Global Center does here to really help people to study the issues so we can all be voice and make a difference in ending human trafficking, and Sandie and I realize this is not a warm and fuzzy show, this not a show you listen to, to unwind, in fact our hope is, and I am speaking for you here Sandie and I don’t think I am going out too much on a limb, our hope is that you would listen to this show and it would rile you up. And you would say, “Hey, I want to do something about this.” And do something in an appropriate way, and towards that end, we would like your help. If you have been listening to this show for some time or maybe this is the first time you’ve listen to the show and you have found something that has been of value to you, one of the ways you can help us to get this message out to more people is to help more people find us online, so two ways you can do that. If you have people in your community who are like you, care about this issue of human trafficking, we would certainly love if you would let them know about this show so we can help to really help them study the issues as well, and the other way you can help us out too, as many of you know, this show syndicates on iTunes, which is probably about how 80 to 90% of our audience finds us, folks who search for human trafficking on iTunes and they are looking for resources to educate themselves and we have heard form so many people around the globe who have gone to iTunes and typed in something like human trafficking and have found this podcast, because we are the first thing that comes up when you type in ending human trafficking on iTunes and the one way that more people can find us is the more reviews that are on iTunes are on this show, the higher actually we come up on the rankings and the more likely it is that people will find us. So one of the things we would like to challenge you to do as a listener of this show, if you have been a regular listener, if this show has been helpful to you and if you use iTunes which is likely if you are listening to this show, I would like to challenge you to, and if you would do us a favor, hope onto iTunes and do a search on the iTunes store on ending human trafficking, you will see this podcast come up, and if you would take 2 or 3 minutes to write us a review about this show, how its been helpful to you, we certainly will appreciate it but more so and much more importantly, it will help us to reach more people. So if you would take a moment and do that for us, we would certainly appreciate it and it will help us get this message out, Sandie, so hop onto iTunes, type in human trafficking and Sandie that’s going to just about do it for our time here today, and so of course in addition to connecting to us through iTunes, you can also connect with us directly anytime if you have questions for us that you would like to see us address on the show or maybe you have questions for Sandie and would like to connect with her, you can connect with us at (714( 966-6361 or of course you can email us at the Global Center for Women and Justice at GCWJ@vanguard.edu and there is a Facebook site for the Global Center as well so hope on Facebook.

Sandie: Like us.

Dave: Yeah, like us, just search for Global Center for Women and Justice and you will get all the updates on the podcast and a whole bunch more too that the Center is up to and we want to stay connected with you.

Sandie: Thanks. Have a good day.

Dave: Thanks Sandie and we will see you again in 2 weeks for Tamara.

Sandie: Oh yeah.

Dave: Can’t wait. Take care, everybody.

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