Magdalena’s Daughters works to prevent human trafficking in Inland Empire – Press-Enterprise

A local nonprofit group is looking for youths and parents to offer feedback on a pilot educational program to combat human trafficking.

Magdalena’s Daughters has a vision of eliminating human trafficking and providing female victims of sex trafficking and those at-risk of sexual exploitation the means to have healthy relationships and thrive. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while unable to host events and meet in person, the organization has focused on human trafficking prevention. Magdalena’s Daughters hopes to reduce the number of youth victims of human trafficking through education and prevention.

Once a week, a team of seven community members meets to work on a 10-module human trafficking prevention curriculum for middle and high school students. It includes animation and stories from survivors of trafficking. The team is made up of survivors, social workers, law enforcement and includes a parent advocate who gives the perspective of having a child who was a victim and provides personal insight.

“Our plan is to get the curriculum completed by this spring and make it engaging for kids,” the organization’s founder Ashley Hill said. “It’s such a polarizing topic and we don’t want kids to be bored or scared.”

According to Hill, schools are required to include sex trafficking education as a topic in sex-education programs. Once the curriculum is completed, Magdalena’s Daughters plans to pilot the program with volunteer students and parents to refine it in summer. The organization wants to make sure parents are comfortable with the program and that children find it engaging. Those interested in being a part of the pilot and offering feedback can contact the organization for information.

Once the human trafficking prevention program has been piloted, Magdalena’s Daughters plans to approach schools and share the importance of teaching and educating youths as a means of prevention. If the organization launches the program next school year, a clinician and a survivor would be available to teach the curriculum.

According to Hill, human trafficking has pivoted to online platforms to find victims during the pandemic, which makes education on the topic more important.

“Our children are online throughout the day and are in danger of traffickers and predators approaching them, befriending them and grooming them for sexual exploitation,” Hill said.

Recently, Magdalena’s Daughters received a grant from the IE Black Equity Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation to provide support and education for diversity and equity. According to Hill, 62% of victims of human trafficking are Black. There is a need for community programs that address providing support to females at high-risk. It is also important to amplify the voices of youths, Hill said.

The organization also believes data is a critical component. Magdalena’s Daughters is partnering with Cal State San Bernardino to do research to understand the needs of foster youths, determine their primary reason for becoming runaways and establish the best means to assist them. This research could help guide policy.

Ultimately, Magdalena’s Daughters plans to provide housing for female foster youths between 12 and 18 who are victims or at risk of sex trafficking. As a young nonprofit group, the organization will need community support to find money to accomplish this goal.


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