By Renee Larr
The fourth annual Hope for Human Trafficking Event was held March 4 to educate the public on human trafficking and to discuss how people can help. Approximately 350 attended. The Indiana Trafficking Victim Assistance Program was one of the presenters.
“The ITVAP is a program of Indiana Youth Services Association. It’s funded by a victim of crime assistance grant through Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. We do training around the state through youth workers and anyone who may come across a trafficking victims so that minor victims can be better identified,” said Karen Maher, Region 5 coalition coordinator for ITVAP. “We train law enforcement, school personnel, etc. The other thing we do is we’re building a network of service providers around the state to meet victim needs. So basically, we’re increasing service capacity around the state.”
ITVAP’s role at the event was to explain the services it offers.
“ITVAP was chosen to attend because their voice and work is important in our community as we strive to end human trafficking,” Christ the Savior Lutheran Church Pastor Libby Manning said. “They discussed their outreach and training across the state, which raises awareness of human trafficking so that minor victims can be better identified. They are working on increasing their capacity to meet victims needs by building a network of providers in local communities.”
Many people don’t realize this type of crime happens everywhere, even in small towns.
“I think that’s the biggest message is that is does happen here. It happens around the state. It’s not just in other states or big cities,” Maher said. “It happens in suburban areas, rural areas, the big towns and the small towns. A lot of what I talk about, in terms of numbers, is trick because different places keep track of numbers for different things. The reality is most victims don’t self-identify, so the numbers we do have are probably the tip of the iceberg.”
For more, visit indysb.org/itvap.