News
Apr 11, 2012

Intervention Training on Child Sex Trafficking Comes to Montana

Shared Hope International Brings “Do You Know Lacy?” Sex Trafficking Training to Kalispell

 On April 26, Montana residents are invited to learn the indicators of and proper response to domestic minor sex trafficking through the innovative “Do You Know Lacy?” community-model training.

Hosted by Shared Hope International, in partnership with Soroptimist International of Kalispell, Flathead Valley Community College, Phi Theta Kappa and Rotary International, the training will offer five specialized training tracks for law enforcement; social service providers; youth advocates, including pastors, teachers, youth mentors, among others; community advocates, including parents, grandparents and concerned citizens; and defenders (men only).  Trainers will include Sergeant Mike Geiger of the Portland Police Department and Sergeant John Chapman of Vancouver, Wash., Police Department, who each have over 20 years of experience in law enforcement and extensive experience combatting sex trafficking; Dr. Rebecca Johnson, consulting clinical director for Courage House; Kay Vail, juvenile probation counselor with 15 years of experience at Clark County Juvenile Justice, and others.

Experts estimate at least 100,000 children are exploited in the U.S. commercial sex industry each year.  The average age a child is first exploited through prostitution is 13 years old.

“Child sex trafficking is happening at alarming rates in the United States,” said Shared Hope International President and Founder, former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith.  “Much of the modern day slavery we see today is seemingly legitimized through the illicit world of commercial sex, yet it is ravaging our daughters.  Montana residents cannot afford to miss this opportunity to learn about warning signs, indicators and proper response techniques to American’s most hidden tragedy.”

Through its Protected Innocence Initiative, a comprehensive strategy to promote zero tolerance for child sex trafficking, Shared Hope International partnered with the American Center for Law and Justice to conduct a comprehensive analysis of each state’s existing laws to evaluate how each state’s laws stand up to today’s sex-trafficking epidemic.  According to report, Montana was one of 25 states in the nation that received a grade of F based solely on existing laws.

“Domestic minor sex trafficking exists in our small communities, and it’s one of the fastest growing criminal activities.  We all have an obligation to ensure our children’s safety,” said Diane Yarus, member of the Soroptimist International of Kalispell.  “In order to address this crime effectively, we first need to have a deeper understanding of the crime, and we feel that the comprehensive approach to this training accomplishes that and sets us on the course to take additional action.”

Yarus explained that domestic minor sex trafficking crimes often involve individuals from a wide geographic area, so she is encouraging communities across Montana to send representatives, especially from law enforcement and social service agencies, to participate in the training.

“Having representation from across the state will help Montana’s law enforcement agencies facilitate clearer communications and a consistent approach to the prosecution of these crimes in our state,” she said.

The training will take place at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The cost to participate is $50 for members of law enforcement and social service providers and $35 for youth advocates, community advocates and defenders.  Participants seeking continuing education units will be charged the $50 registration fee.  The registration fee includes lunch and training materials.

The deadline to register online is April 22.  For more information or to register for the training, visit www.sharedhope.org.

Protected Innocence Initiative report card for the state of Montana:  http://www.sharedhope.org/Portals/0/Documents/Report_cards_1229/ReportCards_all%20states_FINAL_MT.pdf)

MEDIA MATERIALS:  For media convenience, a variety of video clips and resources, including DMST survivor comments, are available at this location:  www.sharedhope.org/media/piimediadownloads.aspx

ABOUT SHARED HOPE INTERNATIONAL:  Shared Hope International was founded in 1998, by former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith, and exists to rescue and restore women and children in crisis. We are leaders in a worldwide effort to prevent and eradicate sex trafficking and slavery using a three-pronged strategy: prevent, rescue & restore, and bring justice. For more information about Shared Hope International, and the Protected Innocence Initiative, go to www.sharedhope.org.