70 first responders to commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) attended two day training on the new state protocol to combat CSEC at Columbia Basin College in Pasco on June 10 and 11th. The training was led by child sexual exploitation and domestic minor sex trafficking expert Leslie Briner, of Youth Care in Seattle.
The first responders, representing a broad range of agencies and services that work with children, included law enforcement from Richland, Pasco, Kennewick, West Richland, Benton County and the Franklin County Sheriff, medical experts from hospitals and clinics, ESD 123, mental health professionals from numerous programs, DSHS, CPS, Detention, Prosecution, Attorney General’s office and faith based and not for profit groups. (See below for a complete list of agencies attending.)
The training was sponsored by the Tri-Cities Coalition against Trafficking (TC-CAT). Donations to support the training were made by community partners including Columbia Basin College, Country Gentleman Catering, Soroptimist groups, Faith Justice Network, and Freed Ministry. The Center for Children and Youth Justice awarded the Tri-Cities one of five state wide trainings after the TC-CAT applied for a grant to receive the training in our area. Training of local first responders was the first major goal established by the coalition when it formed in 2012.
The attendees worked through case studies, learned indicators of domestic minor sex trafficking, gang trafficking and the ways in which youth are lured and manipulated into these illegal activities. Those present learned techniques to reduce trafficking and how to apprehend traffickers and build cases that lead to convictions.
“All of the right people were there; all the frontline providers—it is awesome to see the right people getting the same information so we can work together collaboratively,” said licensed mental health therapist Jamie Brault. “This should have a very positive impact on combating human trafficking in our community. It is something we’ve all been hoping and waiting for.”
Nikki Wood, Prevention Services Administrator for ESD 123 said, “Providing this information and training will enable us to get this information out to other educators and people in the community who are very involved with students; it will enable them to pick up the cues that a student is being exploited or at risk of being exploited—whereas those nuances might have gotten past them previously as they were talking and listening.”
TC-CAT plans to continue to offer the training so that all those who work directly with youth will have the knowledge to combat trafficking from all fronts. If you are a first responder and interested in attending an upcoming training please contact Betty Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.