Posted on : Tuesday July 2, 2013

By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent

LUSBY, Md.––Southern Calvert Baptist Church will host a conference on human exploitation and child trafficking from 8:30 am to noon on July 20.

Speakers include Jeanne L. Allert, Executive Director, The Samaritan Women; Melissa Yao, Chair, Maryland Rescue and Restore Coalition and Erin Simia, Youth Presenter, Maryland Rescue and Restore Coalition. There will also be a special break-out session for teens on preventing victimization.

Southern Calvert Baptist Church Pastor Steve Fehrman, said education is the key to stopping human trafficking. “We encourage you to attend this event. Together we can learn to recognize victims and perpetrators and the appropriate actions that can be taken,” Fehrman wrote in an email regarding the event.

According to the FBI website, sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.

Approximately 293,000 American youth, the majority of the victims are runaways or “thrown-away” youth who live on the streets and become victims of prostitution. Others are recruited through forced abduction, pressure from parents or deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers.

The average age that girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14. Boys and transgender youth enter prostitution between the ages of 11 to 13.

Maryland is considered a “hot spot” for human trafficking. The state’s location is a “pass through” state utilizing highways, especially Interstate-95 to connect victims to major East Coast cities. it is also a destination. Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force (MHTTF ) identified Baltimore Washington International Airport as an important entry point for traffickers and victims in Maryland.

According to a report by the MHTTF, “victims and traffickers have told law enforcement that Maryland is a ‘goldmine’ for human trafficking. Though human trafficking, slavery,  has been around for centuries it is an emerging crime in Maryland.

“If we can save one life, we have made a difference,” Fehrman said.

Registration is requested. Refreshments will be served. For more information, or to register, call call 410-326-6533.