A few weeks ago, we traveled outside of the 920 to Sawyer County in the western part of the state. We had worked with a young woman from this area before, so we were eager to help spread knowledge about trafficking. Professionals in that area realized they needed education and training about human trafficking to better assist their community in fighting this problem.
Dawn, our aftercare director, and one of our law enforcement partners presented for three different groups: a group of medical professionals and social service providers, members of the community, and members of law enforcement. In all, we trained about 100 members of that community. That may not seem to be many, but when you look at the county’s population of about 16,000, we trained 1/16 of their population on human trafficking.
The presentation to medical professionals and social service professionals included the director of a behavioral health clinic, a school counselor, Child Protective Service workers, doctors and nurses in both clinic and hospital settings, and county health professionals. This presentation focused on teaching the basics of human trafficking, what it looks like nationwide, and what we are seeing in Wisconsin specifically. It also included what signs of human trafficking they will see in their various settings and what they can contribute to the fight against human trafficking.
The presentation to the community included the basics on human trafficking as well as what to look for in their community. Parents and members of the faith community had their eyes opened to the issue of human trafficking.
The final presentation was to law enforcement professionals who walked into the room in uniform and rather serious. We were not sure if we’d have to convince them that human trafficking was a problem, but when we asked who thought human trafficking was a problem in the area, all hands went up. We were excited to be able to have the conversation about the problem rather than convince them there was a human trafficking problem in their area. We ended the training with a frank conversation about creating a human trafficking response in this area.
We are so excited to head back in July to train further and teach even more professionals about how to present to their own groups about human trafficking. It is wonderful to see that so many eyes are being opened to this issue and people are excited about formulating a response and addressing this problem in their communities.