Each year, on January 11th we acknowledge National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and this year, the Bucks Coalition Against Trafficking (BCAT), a project of NOVA, is encouraged that a broad effort is being made to create awareness and education surrounding the crime of human trafficking. We need days like this, dedicated to the importance of a particular issue, to focus this crisis in people’s minds. We also need that awareness and action every other day of the year; we want everyone to know that the fight to eradicate human trafficking in Bucks County and in every state, in every county, and in every town happens every day, but we cannot rest our effort to broadcast this awareness.
BCAT celebrated its five-year anniversary this month. 2013 was the beginning of our coalition and so much has been accomplished these past five years. On January 9th, BCAT held its’ first professional conference, “Human Trafficking: Creating Awareness and Taking Action in Bucks County.” Over 160 people gathered at Delaware Valley University for the day-long conference. We had a wonderful line-up of speakers, many from our own coalition. We truly have a wealth of knowledge right here in Bucks County! The theme of the conference was the importance of a collaborative effort in addressing all forms of trafficking. A highlight of the conference occurred when our Keynote speaker, a survivor of sex trafficking named Alison, shared her experience with a packed auditorium. Alison also talked about what it meant for her to finally be rescued from “the life.” In her own words,
“I spent years running from the very people who are in this room today,” said Alison, referring to the legal, criminal justice, social service, and healthcare professionals in attendance. “Today I am on the other side of it with help from people like you and I am forever grateful.”
Alison’s words serve as a powerful reminder that what we all do as professionals and community members matters. It matters that we educate ourselves about all forms of trafficking then take that knowledge to serve as ambassadors for BCAT, speaking out about trafficking in Bucks County. It matters that we work to provide and get better at providing appropriate interventions and services to survivors and at-risk youth. It matters that we find ways to bring survivors into our coalition and let them help lead in combating trafficking. It matters that everyone, whether a member of BCAT or not, educates themselves on the signs of trafficking and speaks out.
There are several resources that provide useful information on trafficking:
Recognizing the Signs
If you are interested in BCAT whether formally involved or not, come to our next BCAT Quarterly Meeting on April 18th at 5:30 PM at NOVA. Contact Deirdre at email@example.com for information. Join a subcommittee or reconnect with a committee. We have the next five years to create awareness and continue to take action.