The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory held its first Social and Ethical Issues symposium Jan. 7, 2016, titled ReFocus: Seeing the Possibilities.
Facilitated by Major Susan Ellis, territorial social and ethical issues director, ReFocus was an optional ReEffect pre-conference for delegates interested in fighting human trafficking. Co-facilitators of the conference included Captain Maureen Diffley, program specialist for Women’s Ministries, and Hillary DeJarnett, territorial coordinator against human and sex trafficking. The pre-conference was broken into three separate tracks: corps ministry, social services and demand reduction.
Corps ministry delegates heard speakers such as Patrick Trueman, president and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, who also was the keynote speaker. He spoke about a culture that’s being broken down by the normalization of pornography, a major contributor to sex trafficking.
Trueman said that even children have become the exploiters through popular middle and high school practices such as sexting. The danger, he said, is that it creates a mindset of sexual entitlement and is “a revolt against God Himself and His wise laws.” The middle and high school adolescents who are sexting become the college students who engage in a hookup culture – they become the sex buyers, and the trafficking industry gets fueled.
Other speakers in the corps ministry track included Dotti Groover-Skipper, the Florida divisional anti-trafficking coordinator, and Cadet Tricia Smouse, who previously served as the human trafficking program coordinator for The Salvation Army in Central Ohio. Each led sessions about the unique characteristics of working with victims of human trafficking and how to effectively advocate in your corps community as well as outreach to the victims. During lunch, Jason Pope, technical advisor for the Salvation Army World Service Office, spoke on overseas projects that combat trafficking and restore communities.
The social services track led delegates through a ladder of care with topics ranging from taking care of social services staff through self-care, a continuum of care for service providers, how to empower survivors through trauma-informed care and how to effectively run programs using federal funding and diversifying program funding. Speakers included Julie Shematz, social services director in Tampa, Florida; Priscilla Santos, program coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Anti-Trafficking Services program in Orange County, California; the team from Haven ATL led by Melba Robinson, director, and Dorsey Jones, case manager, and Keisha Head, a survivor and nationally recognized speaker on human trafficking.
Delegates who chose the demand reduction track learned about how to respond to the demand for commercial sexual exploitation from within the church, from a community approach and through law enforcement advocacy. Speakers included Patrick Trueman; Corporal Alan Wilkett, Pasco County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office; Pilar Dunning, program manager for the Salvation Army’s STOP-IT program in Chicago, Illinois; and Anne Kerr, TrueNorth Freedom Project founder and CEO, who gave practical resources and tips for helping the church engage in the fight to end demand for sex trafficking.