Rockford is currently ranked number 2 in the State of Illinois for human trafficking, according to the Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (RAASE). To lower that statistic, several local organizations are hosting an event today to understand the signs of exploitation and discuss strategies for responding.
As local schools prepare for the 2018 school year, a group of educators will spend the day learning about the signs of trafficking and domestic violence and how to spot them.
A full-capacity crowd of almost 200 educators will attend a summit at Heartland Community Church.
Attendees will learn about the agencies that are available for support, with topics including the effects of trauma on child development, as well as the connection between domestic violence and human trafficking.
Jennifer Cacciapaglia is the manager of the Mayor’s office of “Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention.” She says that sometimes educators simply don’t know what resources are available for them to report on something suspicious.
“They want very much to know what to do when they see signs in their students,” she said. “And they really are asking us, ‘What do we do? What are the things that we should be looking for if we see something? Where do we go? Who do we call?’ So, we want to make sure we get the tools in their hands so that they can make effective decisions that are not harmful to them or the student, and that, in fact, helps the students in whatever situation they may be in.”
The event runs until 4 p.m. Tuesday. The keynote speakers include Mary Landerholm, M.S.W., a national trainer and expert on ‘trauma informed response to human trafficking’ and Megan Brechon, Executive Director of Children’s Safe Harbor.