Priceless 2021: How are the children?

How are the children?

 

On September 18th, Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ) held its 8th annual Priceless luncheon. This year, Priceless raised over $200,000 to fund the fight against human trafficking. Dr. Sandra Morgan, director of the GCWJ, and Nicole Suydam, President and CEO of Goodwill of Orange County, spoke on the importance of prevention, initiative, aftercare, and being informed.  

What does prevention look like? California State legislators mandated that students must be instructed on human trafficking once between 7th and 8th grade and once again between 9th and 12th grade. As Dr. Morgan says, that would be like trying to prevent cavities by brushing your teeth once in middle school and once in high school. Awareness and prevention are not equivalent; like brushing our teeth every day, we must practice evidence-based prevention strategies every day.  

Shyima Hall, a human trafficking survivor advocate, was saved from her life as a child maid in Orange County when a neighbor saw that something was wrong and made a call to law enforcement. When you see something that isn’t right, don’t ignore it and walk on by; rather, take the initiative and make the call. You may save someone’s life.  

However, that is not the end of her story. She grew up to be a powerful advocate for human trafficking victims as well as the author of Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave. We must not stop at intervention, but we must also place importance on aftercare and empowering survivors. 

Using evidence-based strategies for prevention, intervention, and aftercare takes research. When we do not study the issues, we can say or do the wrong thing. Due to the importance of remaining informed, the GCWJ launched an initiative focused on human trafficking prevention and survivor care that was inspired by Dr. Morgan’s service on the federal public private partnership advisory Council under presidential appointment. 

The Global Center for Women and Justice’s annual Priceless luncheon is more than the decorations, music, and even the delicious food. How are the children? All the children are not fine, said Dr. Morgan. We hold Priceless because all the children are not fine; despite being more aware of human trafficking than ever before, the numbers of exploited women and children continue to rise every day. According to the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force’s (OCHTTF) Human Trafficking Victim Report for 2021, the OCHTTF assisted 357 human trafficking victims in 2020 and 2021, 101 of whom were minors and 174 of which were new cases. GCWJ’s mantra is “Study the Issues, Be a Voice, Make a Difference”. The resources and involvement from Priceless are crucial to fulfilling this mission. 

How are the children? The children are not all fine. Until the children are all fine, the mission of the GCWJ will continue, and Priceless will remain a critical part of GCWJ’s mission to end human trafficking. 

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