Red Flags: Identifying and Preventing Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is an epidemic that is catching the eyes of leaders and concerned citizens globally. Though many people consider this to be a third-world problem, it is affecting families in every community, including Indianapolis.

Indiana statute defines human trafficking and sexual trafficking of adults and minors, but it is important to remember that victims and traffickers are difficult to classify.

“Traffickers can be anyone – any age, any race, any gender [and] any socioeconomic background. They typically have some connection to the victim,” said Kate Kimmer, Statewide Anti-Trafficking Coordinator with the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault, an organization that develops and coordinates victim services for adult survivors of trafficking. “Victims are equally as dynamic, but we are seeing trends that suggest particular communities and populations are disproportionately impacted by this crime.”

“Victims can be adults or minors,” said Karen Maher, Region 5 Coalition Coordinator for Indiana Trafficking Victim Assistance Program, which trains individuals around the state to identify and address trafficking situations while also finding ways to meet the needs of victims. “However, youth are particularly vulnerable due to lack of life experience, impressionability and their judgment and reasoning not yet being fully developed. Runaway [and] homeless youth, youth with a history of abuse and LGBTQI youth with a lack of support are especially at risk.”

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Key to Success: Encouraging Parent Involvement in Youth Academics

“Education begins at home.”

That’s how David Patterson, marketing and communications director for Stand for Children Indiana, described the reason parent involvement is so vital to student success.

“When parents are involved in their child’s education, it makes everyone more accountable to perform well to ensure success for that student,” said Patterson. “It allows administrators to develop better policies, helps teachers provide more effective lesson plans and stresses higher expectations from students academically.”

Stand for Children Indiana strives to empower parents, teachers and community members to demand excellence in schools. One of their initiatives, Stand University for Parents (Stand UP), teaches parents and guardians ways to better support the academic success of youth and helps them build effective partnerships with schools. Since 2014, more than 350 Indianapolis parents have graduated from this program.

Crystal Feliciano is the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) president for Lawrence Township Public Schools. She says that parents can begin getting engaged in their children’s schools by attending back-to-school nights and parent/teacher conferences, joining the PTO or helping at school events. She also encourages parents to monitor their children’s grades, join community organizations and participate in “tutoring programs, college tours [and] specialty workshops that will help expose the children to different and exciting opportunities, as well as help them academically.”

“The reason why parental involvement in their child’s school is important is because the children, as well as the educators, can use the support,” said Feliciano. “When parents are not involved with their child’s educational journey, they run the risk of the child not getting his or her maximum benefit from the school system. The guidance counselors and teachers cannot do it alone, nor should they have to.”

Read more at Indy With Kids.

Too much, Too fast: The essence of Binge Drinking and Teens

Too much, too fast. That is the essence of binge drinking.

According to the Indiana Youth Services Association (IYSA), most alcohol-related deaths among teens are not caused by driving while under the influence, but by falls, homicides, suicides and alcohol poisoning.

In preparation for spring break, make sure the youth in your life, from children to college-aged, know about Indiana’s Lifeline Law.

Created in 2012 and amended in 2014, the Lifeline Law gives immunity from arrest and prosecution to underage drinkers who need medical assistance for themselves or others. The law also provides immunity for teens who are witnesses to or victims of a crime and need to call 911 for help.

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