We've been neck deep in trainings these past two weeks with more on the way!
Why do we do so many trainings? (I ask myself quietly, as I wake up at 7am to haul my Suburu out to yet another trafficking seminar in a far flung spot in Illinois)
I have to be honest, trainings wear me out. Physically. At this age, it's not from nerves. I'm passionate about the topic and the work that we do, so as a result my body temperature seems to involuntarily shoot through the roof at the podium. I tend to look like I ran a marathon by the end of it all or like Shelly Duvall after being chased by Jack Nicholson in the Shining. Worth it? Absolutely. Plus I tend to lose a couple of pounds to boot. Here I am this week training a group of law enforcement professionals. Can you see the beads of sweat?
At almost every training, we see a definite change in how people perceive the problem of human trafficking. IOFA conducts both pre and post training surveys, and inevitably there is a significant percentage increase in participants who believe they have come in contact with a victim of trafficking in some way or another - after they learn what trafficking and victims actually look like. It's a very powerful process that changes perspectives and ultimately saves lives.
That's why we train. That's why I heat up.
Recent Training Updates...
Last Thursday, October 14, IOFA trained over 30 victim witness advocates at the 2010 State of Illinois Prosecutor-Based Victim Advocate Association annual conference in Moline, Illinois. Victim witness advocates are extremely important in the effort to identify trafficking cases. Their purpose is to provide services and support to victims of crime involved with prosecution of a case. Many victims of human trafficking are often discovered through the investigation and prosecution of other types of crimes including domestic violence, immigration disputes, sexual assuault, etc. Victim witness advocates are critical to identiyfing a potential trafficking victim and getting them the appropriate services and assistance. The group was attentive and very interested in the topic, many indicating after the training that they now realize they had encountered potential victims of trafficking and could have provided even more assistance to these individuals, if only they knew then what they learned that day.
On Wednesday, October 20th, IOFA launched the first of six training seminars for law enforcement about identifying and responding to human trafficking from the law enforcement perspective. The trainings are being conducted through Mobile Training Units (MTUs) across the state. IOFA is helping to develop and deliver these trainings in coordination with the Illinois Rescue and Restore Coalition http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=31332. and Sgt. Carla Crubisic from the Chicago Police Department. The first seminar was held in Schaumberg, Illinois and included participants from surrounding precincts in the northeastern areas of the state.
I tell you, it's a difficult sell sometimes to get overworked law enforcement, social service, and legal professionals to be open to taking on yet another social problem. But when they hear the scope, and the consequences, particuarly to young trafficking victims, there is always a passionate interest and desire to know more.
Have a great weekend. More trainings next week. Next week's blog topic: "Aren't Adolescents (aka Teenagers) Really Annoying?" A sneak peek answer: yes and no.