“The best research we have estimates that about 100,000 American kids are trafficked for sex every year, the vast majority of whom are never identified. There are no reports, because nobody believes it’s happening in their town,” Ernie Allen said to the three hundred men and women who attended the recent “More Precious Than Diamonds” luncheon at the Balboa Bay Club. “Globally, the UN estimates that 1.8 million children are used for commercial sex every year.”
“One of the greatest challenges we face is that good people in communities across America and around the world don’t believe this could possibly be a problem,” he continued. “I’m grateful to Vanguard for its extraordinary leadership and support.”
Allen, an international speaker and leader, served as President & CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for 23 years. He was the keynote speaker at the luncheon, which culminated the weekend celebrations for the 10th anniversary of The Global Center for Women & Justice at Vanguard University.
The Global Center for Women & Justice (GCWJ) is a faith-based organization dedicated to advancing the global status of women through research, education, advocacy, collaboration and hope.
Mayor Keith Curry and wife Pamela, Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker, Senator Marian Bergeson and Congressman Ed Royce were among the sold-out crowd of concerned community, political and ministry leaders, all who gathered to do their part to help save and change lives.
“Our committee’s priority is to make people aware of the extent of human and sex trafficking and cyber exploitation, and to celebrate 10 years of the Global Center making a tremendous difference locally and around the world,” committee member Pamela Curry explained in an interview. “Many people don’t even know the Center exists. It was huge that Ed Royce gave Sandra Morgan a Congressional Award and we are also thrilled to have raised over $50,000 for the Center’s four different projects.”
The four projects are: The Child Trafficking and Juvenile Justice Frontline Summit; First Responder Training; Global partnerships; and Live2Free Peer Education.
Sandra Morgan, RN, MA, is the Director of the GCWJ. She has worked with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, the Faith Alliance against Slavery and Trafficking Steering Committee, and was recently asked to sit on the Human Trafficking Congressional Advisory Committee. Dr. Morgan educated the audience in an interview format conducted by Maria Hall-Brown, journalist, host and producer at PBS SoCal.
“It is a myth that this only happens to marginalized and uneducated people,” Dr. Morgan said. “It is imperative that people understand what is truly happening. The three defining elements of human trafficking are force, fraud and coercion. Our own children are at risk… children and women in marginalized situations are very vulnerable.”
Dr. Morgan said a recent report on homeless youth stated that there are 200,000 homeless youth in California, ages 12-17.
“I believe that we have an opportunity to engage our community and agencies that work with at-risk kids to intervene before they become victims,” she said. “We have a tag line for the Global Center, which is: ‘Study the issues, be a voice, make a difference.’”
The energy and interest around the tables communicated the audience’s desire to make a difference.
“This is everybody’s issue,” Allen said near the close of the event. “These are not somebody else’s kids, they are our kids. This is something every citizen can do something about.”
“God wants us to love our neighbor, and this is part of it,” Pamela Curry explained. “If we’re to love our neighbor, we need to realize that everybody is our neighbor.”
For further information, go to gcwj.vanguard.edu
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].