Saint Joseph London is partnering with The Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, Laurel County, and the Southeast Kentucky Human Trafficking Task Force to educate parents about human trafficking and the risks posed to children. The Laurel County Parent Academy will be held March 28 at the Laurel County Health Department, located at 525 Whitley Street in London.
Allyson Cox Taylor, executive director, Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution in the office of the Kentucky Attorney General, will discuss myths about human trafficking, how traffickers recruit victims, common indicators of human trafficking, when and how to report suspicions, and how to interact with victims in a way that helps them regain their freedom.
"Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, but so many of us have misconceptions about what trafficking is that we often miss the signs," Taylor said. "Some 300,000 kids are trafficked for sex within the U.S. every year. The second most commonly reported form of trafficking in the U.S. is labor trafficking of U.S. kids in traveling youth sales crews."
Rita Taylor, RN, community outreach coordinator, Healthy Communities, Saint Joseph London, is a co-chair of the Southeast Kentucky Human Trafficking Task Force. The parent training is the second of two parts of an educational series about human trafficking. The first part focuses on high school seniors, and a training was held March 12 at North Laurel High School; another session is planned for seniors at South Laurel High School. Since its inception in 2017, the task force has trained more than 2,000 people in the region.
"It has to be constantly talked about to remind kids that not everyone in the world is good," Rita Taylor said.
She knows that all too well. She relates an incident in which she heard her son, who was playing a game on an Xbox, share information about his sister. While the innocent remarks did not lead to problems, Rita Taylor said it illustrates the importance of parents understanding the potential risks of online activity.
"I talk to my kids about it and they understand," Rita Taylor said. "But, they're still kids and kids need to be reminded. This is why people need to come to this training. Because, how do you talk to your kids about it if you don't know about it yourself?"
Members of the Southeast Kentucky Human Trafficking Task Force represent several individuals and area agencies: Mike Addison, vice president, Appalachian Children's Home; state Attorney General's Office; Buy A Tree Change A Life; Department for Community Based Services; Department for Juvenile Justice; Drug Enforcement Administration; Family Resource Youth Service Centers; Federal Bureau of Investigations; state Rep. Robert Goforth; health insurance agencies - WellCare and Passport; Kentucky ABC; Kentucky Office of Homeland Security; Laurel County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy; London Police Department; New Hope Ministries; Operation UNITE; Saint Joseph London; local school systems in Laurel, Clay, Knox, Whitley and Jackson counties, and Williamsburg Independent; and local attorney Brandon Storm.
Rita Taylor recommends pre-registering for the event, which is open to anyone in Laurel County and surrounding communities. Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m., with the program starting promptly at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served. To register, call Rita Taylor at 606-330-7388.