In the late spring of 2013 when we began this Justice Coalition journey, the people who were drawn to gather at The Chapel (Sandusky campus) had hearts on fire to do whatever was possible to eradicate human trafficking. Our formative discussions focused on just what exactly we COULD contribute to the fight against the scourge of modern day slavery.
As we moved into that summer, a continuing conversation prompted by our study of “The Just Church” by Jim Martin, helped clarify that ours could become a meaningful voice by educating the community about the reality of sex trafficking… not just overseas… not just in Cleveland or Toledo… but right HERE in our midst. That emphasis has not changed. We now have a bevy of presentations designed for various target audiences: public, parents, teens, church groups.
Then in the winter of 2015 we began a relationship with the Erie County Justice Center that continues to this day, regularly speaking to the teens in the detention wing. What is different about these presentations is that they aren’t given to a mixed group, but separately to the girls and then the boys. Making that adjustment was when our message began to evolve.
We sat in that room at the detention center listening to the girls share the vulnerabilities and threats they encounter on an almost daily basis and listened as the boys touted a perspective akin to entitlement. And it began to dawn that for these kids, the potential for human trafficking was very real… a highly possible endgame (victims for the girls; buyers for the boys). It seemed that to really have any sort of meaningful impact, we had to start digging into the cultural factors with which these kids are being bombarded… talking about human trafficking wasn’t enough… somehow we needed to be equipping them with knowledge about the world around them that they could use to be proactive in their own lives (if they so chose).
Sometimes we walk away from those sessions wondering if any of it got through. But then from to time we receive an encouragement such as the two that follow… encouragements that let us know that we’re on the right track… that these kids want and benefit from learning more about topics such as internet predators, sexual harassment, acquaintance rape, dating violence, and pornography. Difficult subjects for sure. But we now have developed further resources (PowerPoint presentations) to address these in ways suitable for middle thru high school groups, mixed or separate, and also for parents and caregivers.
Sooo… for those who are also following us on our FaceBook site, expect to see postings on those subjects as news organizations in Ohio report on them. And in subsequent blogs know that I will be exploring these cultural topics in much more depth, so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!
Until next week…