On November 23, 2013, Willow Creek Community Church North Shore hosted a seminar on human trafficking, and particularly the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), to help train first responders to identify victims of sexual trafficking, detect risk factors, and effectively engage and serve youths impacted by trafficking. The Director of the Salvation Army Promise Program was the seminar keynote speaker. Leading into the seminar, he was interviewed by Nancy Turner of Moody Radio. As the Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law, the Administrative Law Section Council, and the Standing Committee on Women and the Law are currently planning a seminar on CSEC aimed at raising awareness amongst attorneys on this issue of grave importance, we thought it appropriate to publish the text of the interview for our readers. Thanks to ex officio Daniel Saeedi for providing the transcription of the interview.
Q: Thank you for listening and I am Nancy Turner and joining us is the Director of the Salvation Army Promise Program. And good morning sir. I would like to know what this Promise Program is and what is going to be taking place at the North Shore Campus of Willow Creek Community Church on the 23rd of November. But tell us about it. What is the Promise Program?
A: The Promise Program stands for partnership to Rescue our Minors from Sexual Exploitation, i.e. sex trafficking. We have been in operation since 2007. It is a program that is run by the Salvation Army and fundamentally there is a task force of 30 member organization that work with Promise under the umbrella of the Salvation Army to combat sexual exploitation of children. And there are really four provisions of Promise: constant incessant awareness that’s training that we are going to be doing on November 23rd at Willow Creek North Shore. And those are professional trainings on a professional curriculum that we use for law enforcement, social service, medical, mental health providers. We conceive that as a fundamental aware provision of Promise. Simultaneously we prevent it from happening and we have a separate curriculum where we go into the high risk high schools. And that is called Traffic Ed. And that is specifically designed to be facilitated by young people who train and meet directly with the children in some of these high risk high schools. And train them about defining CEC (Commercial Exploitation of Children), if you are in it how to avoid it, how to disclose and be taken care, the media impact on their lives, some of the cultural things that we have. Younger is better. And how really not to fall prey to sex trafficking. And that fulfills the Promise Prevention Piece.
Thirdly, we intervene and Promise has a group – a very secretive group and it has to be -- that works in Pulman, the Roseland community, and they are stakeholders in those communities, active community against trafficking. And we have trained them on surveillance techniques and so what they do in those communities, as they are running their businesses or working in the community, when they see patterns of sex trafficking of children, they report those patterns on a secure template that goes to a secure Web site.
Chicago PD gets that and I do as well. So that fulfills our intervention.
And last but not least, Promise has a home for girls called Ann’s House and it is a long-term, trauma-based residential home and it is in the Chicagoland area, in a home that is not designated nor the town that it is in but it is in the Chicago area and it provides long-term, trauma-based residential care for 10 girls, 12- 21 years of age and that really is Promise in our four provisions.
Q: Tell our listeners why a home like that has to stay anonymous.
A: There is a lot of danger involved in this, and not only for the girls and young ladies in the home, but also for the staff as well. So we have a lot of – the men, and sometimes women, that can engage in using a child for commercial reasons, pimping them out per se, or any number of other egregious acts will basically do anything to find them, relocate them and, in their minds, get their revenue back. We have to be real careful
Q: So, who should go to the seminar that is coming up?
A: Law enforcement professionals, social service professionals, medical, mental health professional and first responders of any kind that deal with kids, children, per se. Because these are the identifiers of CSEC.
Q: Tell us what is the current state of child sex trafficking in Chicago? Like how many each day and this is going to break my heart. I don’t even know if I want to know this but I have to ask the question
A: The numbers are, and of course, nobody stands up and says I’m a sex trafficker, but so you have to be somewhat understanding of the numbers, but the numbers we have from real good authorities here in Chicago are anywhere from 16,000 to 25,000 girls, boys, primarily girls and young women, on a daily basis.
Q: No, daily?
A: Daily, in any 24 hour period. And that’s Chicago and surrounding areas. That’s huge
Q: That’s huge. That is so far beyond what I would even have imagined. So, for our listeners today, what would you suggest because many listeners aren’t in those fields that you suggested come to this. What can be our take away?
A: Your take away is don’t be paranoid but be vigilant with your children. And with your neighbor’s children. It takes a community to combat this, to identify and combat it. And learn about the issue – go to the various websites – like www.sapromise.org and go to those various websites and look and read and study up and that you know fundamentally what is going on and how big it is. Because it is happening through the internet. It’s happening in our schools. And it is not just – there is no socio-economic breakdown on this. It can be with any kid that is sitting in a classroom, or any kid sitting at the computer at home – they can reach them. So be vigilant.
Q: Please go to our Web site: Thisistheday.FM. You will find a couple of links there, including the one just mentioned: sapromise.org. That will all be up there. You can go to Facebook and find out more as well. Sir, thank you so much. Once again this is taking place – vital – pass it on to friends you may have that -- once again, please name the people who will most benefit from coming to this. Name those
A: Law enforcement professionals, social service workers, mental health providers, also medical providers as well, and just anyone who is a first responder who works directly with children.
Q: Okay. Very good. Go to our Web site thisistheday.fm, get the information about this vital seminar taking place – close by, Willow Creek North Shore Campus on Waukegan Road in Northfield from 8:00 until 3:30 p.m. Saturday, November 23. Sir, thank you for spending time with us this morning.
A: Thank you. ■