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Spotlight San Diego: Commerical Sexual Exploitation of Local Youth
A documentary screening and panel discussion event
Thank you for joining us for the screening and panel discussion on May 23rd, 2012. The discussion was very enlightening and we are appreciative of all who attended as well as helped organize.
Domestic human trafficking is often referred to as a modern day form of slavery, in which the average age of a minor exploited for sex in trafficking cases is 12 to 14 years old. Human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world, second only to drug trafficking. It is a 32 billion dollar a-year industry worldwide, and it is taking place right here in our own backyard. Three cities in California, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, are recognized by the FBI as high intensity child sex trafficking areas. In addition, a recent national study by a victims’ rights group gave California an “F” grade for its weak laws dealing with child sex trafficking.
- San Diego has been identified by the FBI as a high intensity child prostitution area.
- San Diego is an international gateway city for sex trafficking.
- At least 1 million American children are involved in prostitution each year.
- Sex trafficking is a multi billion dollar business annually & is the fastest growing business of organized crime.
- Until now, there has been no long-term recovery program available in San Diego specifically for these young women.
- Homeless, runaway & throwaway children (within 72 hours on the street a child is approached for sex)
- Children who are victims of child abuse or domestic violence
- Children in an unstable or neglectful home environment
- Children with low self esteem or missing a parent figure in their lives
- Any child with access to the Internet
Meet the Panelists:
Carissa Phelps – Advocate for the Homeless and for Victims' Rights, http://carissaphelps.com/
Before she was an attorney, author and advocate, Carissa Phelps first became a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking. Carissa understands the challenges children face after being neglected and sexually exploited because she lived them firsthand. Featured in the award- winning documentary Carissa, directed by David Sauvage and released in 2008, she shares her amazing juvy-to-justice story and promise she made to herself that she would one day return to the streets — this time to help girls like her succeed. In her upcoming memoir, Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time, Phelps share how the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor transformed her life and helped her become a mentor and advocate. The memoir is expected for release in summer 2012.
Although Carissa stopped attending school at the age of 12, she ultimately spent more than a decade furthering her education. Her credentials include a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics summa cum laude from Fresno State, a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law, and an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management. In 2010, she was named one of the top 100 inspirational graduates at UCLA Anderson, in a ceremony marking the school’s 75th anniversary.
Carissa’s personal accomplishments, as well as her faith, have given her the courage to expose and respond to domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States. Together with partners around the world, she is part of a global network to connect resources and assist local and international survivors in rebuilding their lives. Carissa mentors young survivors who have experienced sexual exploitation. In addition, she is building a searchable database to connect survivors and their mentors to resources around the world. Her mission is to assist those who wish to prevent and respond to child trafficking.
Detective James C. Hunter - San Diego Police Department, San Diego Innocence Lost Task Force
Detective Hunter has been a SDPD Officer for over 16 years and is currently assigned to the Vice Unit and a member of the San Diego County Innocence Lost Task Force. He has conducted numerous surveillances of pimps and prostitutes working various tracks throughout San Diego County, Orange County and Los Angeles County. In February 2009, Detective Hunter developed the first pimping and prostitution training course for San Diego County law enforcement. In March 2010, Detective Hunter was a Subject Matter Expert on the curriculum development for the California State Wide Law Enforcement Training on Human Trafficking by P.O.S.T. In July 2010, Detective Hunter was a Subject Matter Expert on the continued curriculum development for the California State Wide Law Enforcement Training on Human Trafficking of Minors by the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force & P.O.S.T.
Michelle Atkins – Counseling Cove Program Manager at San Diego Youth Services
Michelle Atkins has been with San Diego Youth Services for fourteen years, first as manager of their Storefront program and now as the Program Manager for their Counseling Cove. She currently provides individual therapy to many of the young women in the STARS program. STARS (Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success), is a program for teen girls between the ages of 12-17 involved with commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. STARS provides support to empower the youth to escape sexual exploitation by developing their inner strengths, building a sense of community and supporting their reintegration into mainstream society. Michelle also leads group counseling for the women of STARS once they have finished the initial 12 week program.
More about the Non-Profit Organizations hosting this event:
About the Junior League of San Diego:
The Junior League of San Diego, Inc. is a member of an international organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. The Junior League reaches out to women of all races, religions and national origins who demonstrate an interest in, and commitment to, voluntarism.
About Outside the Lens:
Outside the Lens transforms the way young people learn, engage with media and participate in the community. Our innovative program engages disconnected youth, encourages them to tell their stories and teaches them that participation in their community’s future makes a difference. How do we do it? We use cameras and digital media along with a proven educational strategy that allows kids to think creatively, engage in issues that are important to them and advocate for social change.