The Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victim Services announced $1 million in grant awards to support the expansion of the Child Sex Trafficking Screening Services Act Regional Navigator Program to 11 Counties in Maryland including Harford County.
Our state’s location, demographics, and transportation corridors make Maryland an attractive hub for sex trafficking. Sex trafficking of minors is the exploitation of a minor for the purpose of sexual gains. The United States Department of Justice has defined sex trafficking of minors as the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act” (US Department of Justice. Retrieved August 13, 2020 from https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos/child-sex-trafficking).
According to data published by the Polaris Project in 2019, there were 533 Maryland calls made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline and 187 reported Maryland cases. Of the 187 reported cases, 46 were minors (Polaris Project. Retrieved August 11, 2020 from https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/Maryland). These numbers make Maryland the 17th in call volume in the nation. Despite Maryland being in the 17th place of reported cases of human trafficking, it has been identified by federal and state agencies that the Interstate 95 corridor is a commonly used route to transport victims from one state to another. Maryland is a hotspot for trafficking as the State has a large number of truck stops, a major international airport and attracts interstate commerce and travel. Victims and traffickers have reported to law enforcement that Maryland is a “goldmine” for human trafficking. (Human Trafficking in Maryland. Retrieved from July 6, 2016. http://www.mdhumantrafficking.org/maryland/)
As of November 1st, 2020 SARC, was awarded the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention and recently hired a Child Sex Trafficking Navigator. SARC has expertise in sexual assault, trauma-informed care, empowering victims, and navigating multiple government agencies including the criminal justice system. SARC provides comprehensive victim centered and trauma informed services. SARC’s multitude of services ensures every victim’s individual needs are met. SARC is recognized by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center as being a provider of services for victims of Human Trafficking. Employees and volunteers at SARC are provided with specialized training on the identification and dynamics of sex trafficking.
SARC has been providing hope and resources to victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking in Harford County, MD, for over 40 years. The Navigator will exemplify SARC’s services through community education and establishing partnerships with organizations that will assist survivors in workforce development, long-term housing, and education. The Child Sex Trafficking Navigator will be on-call when Harford County cases are identified and accompany the survivor to emergency medical care and see to their needs as well as provide case management and ongoing survivor support through advocacy and critical resources. SARC’s Clinical Director Estefanía Simich states “by addressing the needs and risk factors of young sex trafficking survivors, our program can support them by providing a safe space of healing and growth.”
The SARC 24-Hour Helpline (410-836-8430), counseling for adults and children, legal advocacy and representation, emergency shelter, case management, and community outreach and education are just a few of the free services offered to victims and secondary victims of intimate partner violence.
If you believe a friend or a loved one is experiencing abuse, you can call the 24-hour helpline at 410-836-8430 if you are in need of help; or visit www.sarc-maryland.org to learn more about SARC.