Sharing the Hope 2012

Sharing the Hope 2012, Shared Hope’s biggest event of the year, welcomed hundreds of guests from 30 states around the country for three dynamic days of education, discussion and celebration in Washington, D.C.

On November 29, Shared Hope released the 2012 Protected Innocence Challenge Report Cards at the Protected Innocence Challenge Press Conference. These Report Cards document Shared Hope’s evaluation of all fifty states’ legislation regarding domestic minor sex trafficking. We were proud to announce 15 states raised their grade! Attendees and news outlets heard from Linda Smith, survivor advocate Shamere McKenzie, survivor advocate Brianna Myers, Detective Bill Woolf (Fairfax County (VA) Gang Investigations Unit), Abigail Kuzma (Indiana Office of Attorney General) and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) on the importance of strong state laws to bring justice to survivors.

We welcomed 250 participants at the intensive Do You Know Lacy? training to help professionals and community members identify victims of trafficking and respond effectively. Participants learned from over 20 experts and practitioners from around the nation on how pimps maintain control over victims, the strengths and weaknesses in state laws, and the growing trend of gang trafficking. This Do You Know Lacy? Sex Trafficking Awareness and Response Training presented a collaborative and community-based curriculum to inform various types of responders. Law enforcement, prosecutors, juvenile service providers, community advocates and defenders all learned specific ways to address the issue within their professions.

On Friday, November 30, experts from around the country joined Shared Hope International, The Protection Project from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and ECPAT-USA to evaluate current service provider responses to domestically trafficked youth and propose promising practices for future responders. Practitioners working with formerly trafficked youth came from across the country and discussed placement options for victims, challenges facing current service providers, and what successful treatment programs for victims look like. Over 500 people from across the globe tuned in to witness this landmark discussion. Watch it here!

Friday night concluded the busy day with a celebration of Shared Hope’s accomplishments over the years. This Sharing the Hope Gala included a welcome address by Linda Smith, prayer by Sean Wrench, and keynote address by Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. A live jazz band entertained guests during the social hour. Guests joined Shared Hope in honoring the 2012 Pathbreaker’s during the award ceremony. Linda Smith presented awards to Ernie Allen, Amy O’Neill Richard, Senior Advisor to the Director at the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Drew Oosterbaan, Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Deborah Richardson, Executive Vice President of the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Survivor advocate Rebecca Bender read a moving survivor-written tribute to the Pathbreakers, and survivor advocates Stacy Lewis and Shamere McKenzie presented a dramatic reenactment of a fictional domestic minor sex trafficking victim’s interaction with the justice system. The drama highlighted the lack of concern and resources for these victims that currently hinder identification and care for these youth all around the country.

Sharing the Hope 2012 was an exciting and successful event that enabled community members from around the country to engage in collaborative networking, honest discussion, intensive training, and much deserved celebration for the prevention and end of domestic minor sex trafficking. With the release of the 2012 Protected Innocence Challenge Report Cards, community members can inform themselves, their communities, and their state legislators about the issue to help advocate for stronger state laws.

We hope to see you next year at Sharing the Hope 2013! 

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