According to the April 12th Tri-City Herald article “Tri-Cities to implement statewide protocol to deal with sex trafficking victims” the Tri-City area in the State of Washington has launched a new statewide response protocol to be used throughout the state to address the problems associated with underage victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Since September a task force created from related agencies statewide have been working together to gather information about human trafficking and its youngest victims. The goal of their protocol, which was drafted by The Center for Children & Youth Justice is to provide a “comprehensive blueprint that will help create standards and raise the understanding of underage sex trafficking” throughout the State. This protocol will help establish standards for the people who first make contact with the victims, as well as provide education and training so resources statewide can be used efficiently. Instead of treating victims like criminals, the task force is striving to reach out to girls and families most at risk, often within the gang cultures found in many communities.
In the fight against human trafficking the battle begins with understanding the issues that drive victims into the waiting traps of perpetrators. Instead of treating victims of sex crimes like criminals, the layers of abuse need to be recognized and then peeled off gently, so the needs of the victims can be taken care of. Connecting victims with groups that can help them find alternatives to their current lives is the second step in reversing and reducing this worldwide problem. The new protocol that Washington State’s Tri-City has implemented this week addresses these first two steps. The desire is that more communities across the globe see this example and apply it to their task forces in an effort to work together to stop the horrors being imposed on children, men and women around the world who have often lost hope.
In a world full of violence and fear, where people are less trusting than ever before, it is nice to see a program that strives to restore hope and lives!