Human Trafficking Forum Offered in Harbor Country

NEW BUFFALO, MI, March 20, 2019 -- Human Trafficking and its potential for destroying the lives of area youth will be the topic of a forum to be conducted by the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force on April 10, 2019 at the New Buffalo High School (NBSH). The program will start with a light dinner at 5:00 p.m. in the school cafeteria and will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Sponsored by The Pokagon Fund and presented by New Buffalo and River Valley School Districts, the program titled “Human Trafficking 101—Learning the Myths and Truths,” is designed for parents of middle and high school students, teachers, administrators, community members and students.

Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force Founder Cathy Knauf will review the history of human trafficking in Michigan and its local and statewide impact, with a special emphasis on the occurrence of human trafficking in Harbor Country. “Parents and community members need to learn the key facts and warning signs that can help them protect their children from human trafficking,” explained Knauf. “We will detail how social media is used by criminals to ensnare children.”

The school social workers at New Buffalo and River Valley Districts have taken the lead in organizing this forum. “We consider it essential that parents learn how to monitor the apps used by their children because these apps are often the initiating point of a human trafficking scheme,” explained Elizabeth Kickert, social worker at River Valley.

The theme of this forum, A Well-informed Community is a Traffickers’ Worst Nightmare, presents an opportunity for Harbor Country residents to learn how they can become more involved in bringing an end to this devasting criminal activity. The Pokagon Fund Executive Director Janet Cocciarelli urged community attendance at this forum. “Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry in the United States and a scourge on our society,” stated Cocciarelli.