There is still time to register for Thursday’s annual Victims’ Rights Conference – Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Baystate Education Center in Holyoke.
The annual event is sponsored by the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, the Family Advocacy Center of Baystate Children’s Hospital, and Baystate Health Continuing Interprofessional Education.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is both a domestic and international problem. Sex trafficking victimizes more than 200,000 children in the United States annually. Identifying victims of CSEC and sex trafficking can be difficult for several reasons – because of a general lack of public awareness about the issue, the reluctance of many exploited children to identify themselves as victims, and extreme measures taken by exploiters to hide their victims and their crime. On average, children fall victim to CSEC between ages 12 and 14, and many come from vulnerable populations with a history of abuse. Victims come from all backgrounds, sexes, nations, and economic levels.
The event, while open to the general public, is geared for health care, mental health, law enforcement and school professionals to provide them with the tools and skills needed in recognizing and accessing appropriate resources for the suspected or confirmed commercially sexually exploited child.
The day will begin with an introduction from Anthony D. Gulluni, District Attorney, Hamden County, followed by “The Victim’s Voice,” presented by Jasmine Marino, a consultant and survivor from Saugus.
Victim presentation and keynote
Marino fled from her life of human sex trafficking, beginning as early as 18, but her journey to do so was not easy. She regained control of her life, previously dominated by her abuser, and views her experiences as opportunities to advocate for others. She helps girls directly on the street struggling from drug addiction and prostitution, by supplying them with a Bag of Hope, containing essential items like shampoo, soap, etc. Bags of Hope is a ministry Marino founded, with the logic of helping girls escape, by not only providing girls with physical resources, but also informative, personal guidance. She will personally share her story of abuse, drug addiction, and escape, to those attending the conference.
The day’s keynote address, “Recognizing and Responding to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children,” will be presented by Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, MD, MPH. She is a board-certified practicing emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and faculty member at Harvard Medical School. A graduate from the Harvard School of Public Health, she is Medical Director of the Human Trafficking Initiative at the Division of Global Health and Human Rights in the MGH Department of Emergency Medicine, Chief Medical and Executive Director of MGH Freedom Clinic, and Medical Director of Violence Intervention Advocacy Program, Dr. Macías-Konstantopoulos has been engaged in the field of human trafficking since 2006, lecturing nationwide, performing public health research, and conducting health professional trainings. She is also a member of state and federal government task forces developing and shaping policy on health and human trafficking.
The day's program
In addition to “The Victim’s Voice” and keynote, the day will include a session on “Commercially Sexually Exploited Children: Impact on the Child, Family and Community.” It will end with a session entitled “Addressing the Needs of CSEC Victims: A Collaborative and Coordinated Response.” The final session will include presentations by Mimi O’Neill, PsyD, Supervisor of Clinical and Behavioral Services, Springfield School System; FBI Special Agent Ian Smythe; Jessica Wozniak, PsyD, Clinical Research and Development, Family Advocacy Center, Baystate Children’s Hospital; Laurie Sullivan, MSW, LCSW, area director, Massachusetts Department of Children & Families; and Rebecca Young, MSW, LCSW, a social worker at Baystate Medical Center.
The fee to register at the door or online is $89 and includes lunch. For those registering online with a credit card, visit learn.bhs.org. Click on calendar and search or navigate to the course, then click on it. Go to shopping cart, then checkout. Sign in with your CE Portal ID or create an account. Add credit card information and you will receive a confirmation email.
For more information, call the Division of Interprofessional Education at Baystate at 413-322-4242