Homes With Heart VC Ready to Stop | Homes With Heart VC

What is the Ready Program?

Commercial sexual exploitation of children happens when an individual buys, trades or sells sexual acts with a person under the age of 18. The youth in our community are vulnerable to these predators, and We are READY to STOP child trafficking in Ventura County.

The READY Program stands for Respectfully, Empowering and Defining Yourself and is a program within Ventura County’s Children and Family Services Agency.  The READY Program provides support to social workers as they seek to identify and offer assistance to children and youth within the child welfare system who are experiencing commercial sexual exploitation or are at high risk of such.  The READY Program liaisons with stakeholder agencies, non-profits, law enforcement, and other partners to build a network of response to address child trafficking.

The READY to Stop Child Trafficking in Ventura County initiative brings the issue of child trafficking to the forefront by educating local residents, youth, educators, and leaders in our communities about the dangers, signs, and resources available to stop child trafficking in our local community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are victims of child trafficking?

All children, from any culture and socioeconomic background are vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and child trafficking.

Who are perpetrators of child trafficking?

o Family members
o Significant others such as friends, boyfriends, or girlfriends
o Trusted adults
o Predators who prey on vulnerable youth

Where does child trafficking occur?

Many predators target victims near:
o Bus and train stations
o Malls
o Parks
o Social media websites such as Instagram, Facebook, gaming sites, dating sites
o False employment opportunities such as modeling or dancing

Who are at particular risk of being trafficked?

o Youth and unrestricted or unmonitored use of the internet and social media
o Youth with current or prior involvement in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems
o Youth with a prior history of sexual abuse
o Runaway and homeless youth
o Transgender youth
o Youth with mental, emotional, or physical disabilities

How does child trafficking victimization occur?

o Victims are typically hidden from plain sight (i.e. still attending school) and often go unnoticed
o Youth are commonly befriended and offered gifts and/or shelter in exchange for sex
o Manipulation tactics including false promises of a better life, money, fame, glamour
o Perpetrators often establish a loving relationship to gain trust and loyalty
o The child’s dependency, whether financial or emotional, is used against them to manipulate them into performing sexual acts for monetary gain
o Children are emotionally and/or physically threatened and abused to maintain obedience and deter any thoughts or attempts of escaping their trafficker

How can educators identify the signs of child trafficking?

o The child is homeless, has run away, or is involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems
o Frequently absent for no given reason
o Shows visible signs of physical and emotional abuse
o Frequently goes on “vacation”
o Shows signs of malnourishment and sleep deprivation
o Responses to questions come off well-rehearsed
o Boyfriend or girlfriend is visibly older
o Promiscuity and sexual references occur uncharacteristically

What resources are available to educate the public about child trafficking?

o Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign
o National Human Trafficking Resource Center
o Shared Hope International
o The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
o Interface Children and Family Services
o Forever Found

How to report child trafficking?

o For immediate emergencies, call 9-1-1
o Ventura County Child and Elder Abuse Reporting Hotline: 805-654-3200
o National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888

COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS

Are you READY to volunteer to help youth?

The READY Program works closely in partnership with the following community-based organizations:

For additional information contact the READY Program at 805-654-3469.

BECOME A RESOURCE FAMILY

Often times, children and youth who have escaped their trafficking situation are vulnerable to returning to their exploiter, for a variety of reasons; such as financial or substance abuse dependency, emotional attachment, or fear. 

These children and youth may need resource families who will welcome them into a safe and stable home to support them as they heal from the trauma of their trafficking situation.

Resource families provide our youth and children with encouragement, support, motivation, and most importantly love.

Are you interested in loving and supporting Ventura County’s most vulnerable youth? Learn more about how you can become a resource family by visiting http://homeswithheartvc.org/become-a-fostering-parent/

REPORT

For immediate emergencies:

call 9-1-1

Ventura County Child and Elder Abuse Hotline:

805-654-3200

National Human Trafficking Hotline:

888-373-7888

TO MAKE A REPORT
CONTACT OUR LOCAL HOTLINE

(805) 654-3200

MORE INFORMATION

Online Grooming

Harm Reduction

Endangered Runaways

Children with Autism

Valuable Information for Teachers/Educators

Love 146 Parents/Caregivers Guide

Online Enticement: https://www.missingkids.org/theissues/onlineenticement

This involves any individual who communicates with a minor via the internet with the intent of committing a crime of sexual exploitation or abduction. This term can involve any of the following criminal acts:

  • Sextortion – where a child is groomed to provide sexually explicit images and carry out a face-to-face sexual encounter
  • Engaging in online sexual conversations
  • Selling and/or trading minor’s sexually explicit images

The following act can occur on a number of media platforms including:

  • All types of social media
  • Messaging Apps
  • Gaming platforms

What to look out for if you think your child is being enticed online:

  • Engaging in sexual conversation/role playing as a grooming method, rather than a goal
  • Asking the child for sexually explicit images and vice versa
  • Developing a rapport through online compliments, likes and shared interests
  • Sending or offering personal explicit images
  • Lying about their age – often pretending to be younger
  • Offering incentives including:
    • Money/food
    • Alcohol/drugs
    • Hotel accommodations/transportation

Child Trafficking Response Unit 2018: Harm Reduction Information

The Harm reduction model was put into place to reduce the overall impact on dangerous/risky behavior over a period of time as opposed to the immediate elimination of those behaviors. The use of this model helps build safety and identifies the support network available to a young person who has been exploited.

Utilizing a harm reduction approach This creates a tension with the acknowledges that change is helping professions—social workers, difficult, and that it may take a mental health clinicians, and period of time before a youth is probation officers, among others— willing or able to leave an exploitive whose objective is to protect and situation.”

– Child Trafficking Response Unit

 

 

The Harm Reduction Model addresses the following risky behavior factors often present in exploitive situations:

  • Limited resources
  • Unsafe relationships
  • Substance use
  • Risky sexual encounters
  • Running away

*Note: The focus is placed on the above factors as opposed to focusing on the exclusively on the exploitation itself.

 

“Harm reduction is essentially a language that programs and providers must learn to speak in order for every aspect of youth engagement to be rooted in its principles.”

– Child Trafficking Response Unit

 

When youth are in imminent danger they may be forceably removed from the situation – Here are a few ways to use the harm reduction approach during this process:

  • Have open honest conversations with regards to why they are being moved, this allows them to feel part of the decision process eliminating the threat of feeling forced into doing it.
  • Ensure systems of care so that the youth doesn’t feel deprived of the needs the prior exploitation was fulfilling.
  • Recognition and affirmation are key even when there is the slightest positive step forward.
  • Redefine success but rather allow the youth to give you their definition of what that looks like.

 

“Harm reduction assists in building up a young person’s self-sufficiency and empowers them to be the primary practitioners of their own life.” – Child Trafficking Response Unit

 

There are three factors that are essential for better engagement with youth:

  • Training
    • Practitioners need direct support, coaching and guidance from their superiors to effectively employ this strategy
  • Learning
    • There must be a consistent approach across disciplines to ensure better engagement with youth and work against factors that may cause the youth to further retreat into their exploitive situations and disengage from services.
  • Discussion
    • Key stakeholders will be provided with harm reduction materials to be disseminated by steering committees who will be responsible for encouraging the development of harm reduction policies and procedures within interagency protocols.

 

Below are samples of practical strategies from subject matter experts on how their agency has adopted and employed the harm reduction strategy to be used as a guide on how to implement the strategy within their specific roles:

Classified as any child under the age of 18 who is missing or has run away on their own accord. This population of minors is extremely vulnerable and often become homelessness. The most common risk factors for runaway minors include the following:

  • Prior missing incidents
  • Drug/ Alcohol abuse
  • Mental Illness including suicidal thoughts and self-harm
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Unattended medical conditions including special needs and unplanned pregnancies
  • Gang involvement
  • Online Enticement

The community can help reduce endangered runaways by:

  • Become a partner that provides resources and education to help protect families and minors
  • Support victims and their families by offering:
    • Counseling
    • Interventions
    • Mental health services
    • Support groups
  • Raise awareness by:
    • Visiting website with missing child posters
    • Signing up for missing child alerts with organizations like The Adam Program
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