20 May 2019

Focus on Youth Sex Trafficking

While working at a national conference in Tucson, Arizona last June, ALSO street outreach worker Marcus Davis heard presenters from the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA) talk about youth sex trafficking and cases of missing women. He was concerned, and knew about the same problem in Chicago communities, including West Humboldt Park, where he lived, and West Garfield. One case of a missing young woman, he says, involved a cousin of his nephew.

Encouraged by ALSO Executive Director Lori Crowder, Marcus took steps to share information about the issue when he got back to Chicago. A few days later - on Father’s Day - Marcus and about a dozen other men he knows held a barbeque for their families in the Austin community on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Marcus and some of the men passed out literature about sex trafficking and t-shirts to people on a nearby block. He said he  plans to distribute information again this Father’s Day.

Fast-forward, less than one year later: Marcus has gotten even more involved on this issue and made a presentation on youth sex trafficking in early April at a national conference in Philadelphia. He is the first ALSO street outreach worker to present at a national conference.

The presentation, “Engaging Men Initiatives and Sex Trafficking” was made on April 3 at the “Consolidated Youth Coordinated Community Response Institute for Engaging New Grantees” in Philadelphia. The three-day long Institute was held by the University of Colorado at Denver. The University partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based Men Can Stop Rape, which is a partner with ALSO on its Consolidated Youth and Engaging Men and Boys Grant Program.  Marcus co-presented at the Institute with Ali Boak, Co-Founder and Executive Director of IOFA.

“One way to help prevent a problem is through knowledge,” Marcus says. “You have to let people know it exists. It’s all about reporting and prevention.”

Sex trafficking was recently added to the list of crimes identified by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). ALSO’s Consolidated Youth and Engaging Men and Boys Technical Assistance Team offers national training and technical assistance on child sex trafficking as well as domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and teen dating violence. There have been more than 4,500 calls received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline that have referenced Illinois since 2007, according to the organization.

“Many people don’t know about sex trafficking, and there needs to be a lot more education about it,” says Tara Campbell, a program coordinator on ALSO’s local and national work who worked with Marcus at the Institute. “Child and youth sex trafficking can happen in your community.”

During the presentation, Marcus said, “I understand the importance of surrounding youth with positive adults and the impact that we as adults have on young adults throughout the community. I’ve been to some of the places that our youth are headed without mentoring.  As an outreach worker, I have felt the need to use my different experiences to make people aware of the gender-based violence issues throughout the Chicago area.”

ALSO outreach worker Marcus Davis speaks about "Engaging Men Initiatives and Sex Trafficking” at conference on April 3 in Philadelphia. The presentation was made at the “Consolidated Youth Coordinated Community Response Institute for Engaging New Grantees."

Marcus adds that messages and information about sex trafficking will be passed on to young men and women who come to ALSO for the 10-10-10 youth employment program and in other ways. He says that learning about this issue can give people a perspective about control and relationships that they may not have heard. Marcus says that learning about the issue has also impacted his own life. “It’s helped me learn about this issue in my own life - and how learning about this issue can help the community as well.” During the presentation, Marcus - who is the father of three boys, ages 23, 17, and 10 - says his sons “inspire me to do this work. I engage men and boys every day personally and professionally.”

Marcus’ presentation - and the continued sharing of information about youth sex trafficking - is an example of how ALSO’s work on intimate partner violence and street outreach are being connected at the organization. Outreach workers, he adds, are part of a team that includes case workers and victim advocates.

“I feel that the message needs to be shared and generated through our communities,” adds Marcus. “People sometimes forget about it. But if you keep the community aware about youth sex trafficking, you find that people care about it - and many may know someone who is affected.”

For more information, contact Tara Campbell, Program Coordinator at ALSO, tcampbell@also-chicago.org

RECAP:

ALSO street outreach worker Marcus Davis made a presentation on youth sex trafficking in early April at a national conference in Philadelphia. He is the first ALSO street outreach worker to present at a national conference.

Sex trafficking was recently added to the list of crimes identified by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). ALSO’s Consolidated Youth and Engaging Men and Boys Technical Assistance Team offers national training and technical assistance on child sex trafficking as well as domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and teen dating violence.

Marcus’ presentation - and the continued sharing of information about youth sex trafficking - is an example of how ALSO’s work on intimate partner violence and street outreach are being connected at the organization. Outreach workers, Marcus adds, are part of a team that includes case workers and victim advocates.

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