President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act Thursday, and there have been demonstrations across the country since Wednesday as part of a national call to "Stop Violence Against Women Everywhere!"
Today and Saturday, the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University, a private Christian school in Costa Mesa, is running a somewhat-related Cyber Exploitation gathering.
In commemoration of National Freedom Day and part of the university's annual Ensure Justice Conference, the event aims to address the use of Internet and social media as a means to exploiting elementary, middle and high school students who are at-risk for being recruited into commercial sexual exploitation, which you may also know as human sex trafficking.
Attendees, who will include teachers, physicians, attorneys, stay-at-home moms and business professionals, will learn about the warning signs in identifying exploited children and steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of children becoming vulnerable to predators.
Speakers include: Ernie Allen, president and CEO of International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children; Laura Lederer, president of Global Centurion and former senior advisor on human trafficking at the U.S. State Department; and Lisa Thompson, director of the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking for the Salvation Army.
"Laws such as California Proposition 35, the 'California Against Sexual Exploitation Initiative' which passed on Nov. 6, 2012, are not enough to adequately combat the increasing problem of human sex trafficking," explains Sandra Morgan, director of the Global Center for Women & Justice, in a Vanguard statement.
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Despite Abraham Lincoln signing the resolution 148 years ago that would eventually abolish slavery, "there are still children and youth who live in slavery or involuntary servitude," Morgan notes. "As parents, teachers, children's workers and pastors, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on the techniques and strategies traffickers use to lure, trap and enslave children."
Interest in this subject is not new to Vanguard. Anaheim Police Sgt. Craig Friesen, who works with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, recently told a Human Trafficking class on campus that his team have served more than 300 victims of human trafficking this past year, 40 percent of whom were under 18.
For more conference information, visit vanguard.edu/ensurejustice.