The disturbing reality is that sexual exploitation and trafficking is occurring in every county of our state and in every suburb of the Twin Cities metro area. Research shows that the average age of recruitment is between 11-14 years old. The Minnesota Department of Health added a new question to the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, administered in grade schools throughout the state. The results suggested an estimated 5,000 youth had traded sex or sexual photos in order to receive money, food, drugs, alcohol, a place to stay or something of value, with boys and girls almost evenly impacted. At the Justice Funds we connect leaders and givers to solve some of the most prolific problems within Minnesota, and this is one of them.
Provide awareness education and training for kids and families.
Swimming upstream to help kids, parents, teachers and other professionals serving them understand and identify the signs of predatory relationships (in-person and online) helps stop exploitation, trafficking and assault before they have a chance to start. While most of our Phase I grant dollars here will go toward training that will occur in and through schools, they will also fund opportunities to provide awareness education through other avenues such as through medical professionals, churches and local community and sports associations as they arise.
Fund a victim specialist position working jointly with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Regional Navigators
Picture a sting operation. Law enforcement makes arrests and recovers victims. But who cares for these victims, in that moment, and in the days and weeks that follow as they progress into emergency then transitional care and evaluate whether and how to navigate the justice process? We are grateful to provide seed funding to create a long desired and truly collaborative position reporting to both and liaising between law enforcement and early-stage restoration providers.
Expand specialized emergency shelter beds and services for recovered victims 18+
A law called SAFE Harbor was passed in Minnesota in 2014 that decriminalized prostitution for victims 18 and under. SAFE Harbor’s passage brought many positive reforms and also unleashed significant state funding for emergency shelter beds and services for minors. While extremely glad for the resources serving the 18 and under population (which still remain thin), our leaders widely acknowledged that resources for the 18 and over population are exceedingly sparse. We are grateful to help expand the number of emergency shelter beds as well as support services addressing the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual healing of victims 18 and over through SAFE’s phase one grants.