Ensure Justice: A Student’s Perspective
by Emily Miller, Writing Intern
The Global Center for Women and Justice held their annual two-day Ensure Justice conference from March 4th to March 5th. As a student intern at Ensure Justice, I got to have a helping hand behind the scenes as well as an educational experience about how various industries can do their part to protect the children in their community. Whether a student is planning to work in the field of education, law, medicine, etc., there was something for everyone to learn and practically apply. As a future teacher, I learned strategies to combat human trafficking that could be applied in the classroom. The amount of practical information and training I got out of the experience made getting up at 6 AM on a weekend worth it.
On March 4th, the speakers covered a wide range of topics including the intersection of drugs and human trafficking, vulnerabilities, child safety, and child stress. An interdisciplinary approach to preventing human trafficking and prioritizing the safety and health of the children vulnerable to it is the way to ensure that no child is left behind. Day 1 of Ensure Justice can best be summarized by Live2Free Vice President Zara Escamilla, who said: “We share responsibility as a collective to protect our children and youth… We must construct a web of resources from department to department in order to avoid letting our children fall through the gaps.”
Saturday, March 5th was workshop day. I attended Human-Centered Design hosted by Dr. Sorrells. She said, “When we design anything, if it is not desirable by the human affected by the problem, then it doesn’t matter…There is no one-size-fits-all program.” I immediately thought about human centered design in regard to education when I become a teacher; as a student, I can confirm that “one-size-fits-all programs” do not work for vulnerable populations. The second workshop I attended was Peer-to-Peer Prevention hosted by Live2Free, which taught what human trafficking really looks like and discussed what young people can do to prevent
trafficking among their peers. Regarding the experience of speaking at the conference as a student, Live2Free President and Vanguard University student Makaela Brass says, “Though the theme was “How Are Our Children?” I think it is crucial when this question is asked that we, as college students, take a moment to reflect and think about ourselves. Because most of us were once in that stage and are still coming out of being a child and teen, and now we’re young adults, the question remains, “how are we doing?” And what can we do for ourselves to make sure that we play a role and have input on what will help us and brings us a sense of safety?”
As a 20 year old attending Ensure Justice: How Are Our Children, the theme of protecting the children of our community hit close to home. Speaker Ruthi Hanchett presented on child safety online during her Smart Mamas, Safe Kids plenary, and discussed the dangers of adults reaching out to underaged youth with offers of sugar dating. The next day, I checked my Instagram and found a message in my DMs from an old man asking me to be his sugar baby so he could pay my tuition. Because I attended Ensure Justice, I immediately blocked him. How are we supposed to protect our children from those dangers if we, and they, are unaware of what they look like? This is why the work the GCWJ does at Ensure Justice is crucial to educating both the young and old to keep our children safe.