Readers Write: Trafficking solution – Eradicating sexual exploitation

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Selah Freedom & The Selah Way Foundation is the nation's largest anti-sex trafficking service organization

The Trafficking Solution: Educate & Train Healthcare Practitioners, Provide K-12 Curriculum Instruction for Prevention, and a Public PSA Campaign

Human trafficking is a $99 billion national epidemic that affects every state in America, including in Long Island as your article on Feb. 18 highlights “A Human Trafficking Victim’s Message Speaks Heightened Training for Northwell Staff.”

The announcement of the new Island-wide healthcare initiative is the result of a collaborative partnership between two high-level teams of multi-interdisciplinary, multi-professional human trafficking organizations called Global Strategic Operatives and The Selah Way Foundation, the nation’s largest anti-sex trafficking service organization.

Recognizing that Long Island is among the top 20 human trafficking jurisdictions in the country, Global Strategic Operatives has provided the funding to train thousands of healthcare employees to identify, triage and support victims of human trafficking, including Northwell Health and other integrated delivery healthcare systems throughout the country, with the help from the Selah Way Foundations’s protection initiative that leads the GSO educational efforts for this pilot program.

This marks a milestone leap forward in the healthcare industry to address the human trafficking crisis within our own borders where statistics tell us that one out of 10 children are sexually abused in America and two million children are sold each year in our country.  Within 48 hours of running away from abuse at home, one out of three children is solicited for sex.

Survivors served by Selah Freedom and The Selah Way Foundation report that they are being sold 15-40 times every 24 hours. 92 percent of survivors are sexually abused as a child but at Selah Freedom, 100 percent of the thousands of survivors who have gone through our programs since inception, are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This is the root cause that leads to sex trafficking from what we have witnessed and experienced across the country.

The healthcare initiative underway with GSO is but one component of a larger picture to help eradicate sex trafficking. The SWF provides prevention, protection and provision in the sex trafficking prevention arena and our provision initiative educates and empowers children and interveners through customized, cutting edge curriculum so that they can recognize the signs of exploitation and discover the power of their own voice to speak up against abuse.

At the Federal level, the Selah Way Foundation is helping to create a “Child Trafficking Free Zone” (H.R. 4388) that will amend the nation’s Public Health Service Act to provide for the implementation of curricula for training students, teachers, and school personnel to recognize prevent and respond to signs of human trafficking and exploitation in children and youth.

The bill is currently pending passage of both houses of Congress. Last Spring, the Selah Way Foundation was instrumental in the passage of the Florida State Education Department’s Rule 6A-1.094123 that now mandates that every school in Florida be a “Child Trafficking Free Zone,” and School districts must annually provide instruction to students in grades K-12 related to child abuse prevention and sex trafficking recruitment.

In April of this year, to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the SWF will launch a nationwide series of Public Service Announcements that will warn children and young adults about the warning signs of sex traffic recruitment. The PSA’s are called “Once Upon a Crime” and is a dark spin of the traditional fairytale series. The PSA’s are a partnership between the Selah Way Foundation and New York’s Seiden Advertising. We hope to solicit help from the MTA, and New York print & TV media to launch these posters, digital displays, and print advertisements.

We live in a very different world. When growing up in the Port Washington School District in the ’60s we witnessed the controversial implementation of “Sex Education” that mandated teaching students about the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and safe sex.

Fast forward a half-century and we are facing a potential new curriculum that will teach K-12 students to speak out about sexual abuse and exploitation and becoming aware of traffickers who are now soliciting potential trafficking victims at their middle and high schools right here in Long Island.

In our own backyards. Sexual exploitation is here. And it is 100 percent PREVENTABLE.
We can expose it. We can disarm it. Together, we can eradicate it.

Andrea Mastrocinque Martone
Port Washington
Director of Communication, The Selah Way Foundation

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