The Junior League of Northern Westchester is working to combat the multi-faceted issue of Human Trafficking by focusing our efforts specifically on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). CSEC is sexual activity involving a child in exchange for something of value, or promise thereof, to the child or another person or persons. The child is treated as a commercial and sexual object. CSEC is a form of violence against children. (GEMS Research & Resources; www.gems-girls.org)
In the spring of 2013, JLNW members approved a new project with The Gateways Program, part of the JCCA Cottage Schools in Pleasantville, NY. Gateways is an intensive specialized residential treatment program for girls aged 12-17 who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Since then, JLNW Members have met with the girls at Gateways monthly for meals and activities to help promote appropriate social skills and to show the girls that in healthy relationships, people care about one another without expecting anything in return.
The League continues to expand efforts and developed a program to eradicate this dimension of human trafficking as follows:
- Continue our direct service to the girls at Gateways through monthly lunches, activities and off-campus trips. Past trips an animal shelter project, and an agroecolocial farm. These efforts are being designed to help advance the therapeutic goals of the Gateways program.
- Serve as a member of the Westchester County Anti-Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force brings together multidisciplinary partners including federal, state and local law enforcement, government agencies, and social service providers committed to identifying and assisting victims and coordinating cases of human trafficking throughout Westchester County.
- Research and introduce curriculum for exploitation prevention efforts at our local school districts or youth organizations.
- Continue our advocacy efforts to identify potential legislation to protect victims and prosecute traffickers.
- Continue to bring awareness to the issue of HT and educate our members and the community at large. Past efforts include facilitating a first responders program with local law enforcement, In-Leauge HT awareness panel discussions, Blue Ribbon Campaign, Little Black Dress Initiative and in 2017, a community-wide Panel Discussion “Our Youth at Risk of Sexual Exploitation.”
As we work to address this complex issue, we are committed to providing continued and ongoing education for League members and the community at large. Please visit our Issue Center to find articles, audio recordings, helpful links, research and reading recommendations and more.