Aspire to Autonomy, Inc., will host a free, virtual training July 29, 6 to 7:30 p.m. about Act 197 and the importance of advocacy in the Lehigh Valley.
Local government officials, business owners, activists and concerned citizens should attend to learn more about the law, though Aspire welcomes anyone to join the anti-trafficking movement.
Act 197, or The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act, requires certain businesses and establishments in Pennsylvania to promote the national trafficking hotline as a front-line measure for those who may suspect trafficking anonymously and, in a manner, safe for victims. Trafficking victims can also call the hotline.
However, the law is not being enforced.
In the Lehigh Valley (Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area), there are more than 500 businesses that should be posting information about the hotline, including, but not limited to, bars, hotels, motels, establishments that sell alcohol, massage parlors, adult entertainment venues and transportation centers (airports, bus stations, etc.).
In the last four years, 85 confirmed cases of trafficking occurred in a 15-block radius in Allentown. Enforcement of Act 197 could help decrease the amount of trafficking in the Lehigh Valley. Aspire plans to canvas local establishments and educate business owners about committing to a safe and trafficking-free Lehigh Valley.
Once trafficking victims are identified, Aspire can help them connect with community resources, mental health counseling and any other services needed, which can also include addiction services (as traffickers often use drugs to control their victims), finding housing, and steps toward rebuilding an autonomous life.
Aspire will host the training in two parts. Kayla Bradley (Upper Darby, Pa.), Sarah Cattin (Coatesville, Pa.), and Samantha Stoneback (Oxford, Pa.), all from Kutztown’s Master of Social Work program, will facilitate the training. The group has interned with Aspire this summer.
“Responding to the lack of enforcement of the act as a community will create a systematic change, human trafficking victims deserve to have resources available to them when they are in fear,” said Cattin. “Without access to this hotline, victims continue to live in danger when they deserve to live autonomous lives.”
Both Bradley and Stoneback believe enforcing this legislation will bring more resources to trafficking survivors and that the whole community needs to get more involved.
Wednesday’s training (July 29) will discuss the act itself, its importance, and Aspire’s plan to get it enforced. The later training will discuss advocacy: what it is, its importance, and how community members help. Decreasing the threat of trafficking only requires that people keep their eyes open for trafficking indicators and report them to the hotline if noticed.
Traffickers prey on vulnerable members of a community–children who have difficult home lives, women struggling with poverty or educational barriers, immigrants afraid of deportation–and concerned citizens can keep the fabric of their neighborhoods strong by watching out for potential human and/or sex trafficking.
For more information about the training visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pathtoautonomy
To join the training: http://meet.google.com/bvr-kqrs-qzx
For more information about trafficking in the Lehigh Valley and/or how to identify trafficking indicators, contact The National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373 7888
For information on volunteer opportunities, contact Rachel House, ambassador director, at firstname.lastname@example.org
For other inquiries, contact Angel Ackerman, communications director, at email@example.com.
Founded in 2018, Aspire to Autonomy Inc. has been on the front lines in the fight against trafficking in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. ASPIRE is A Supportive Presence, Initiating Recovery and Empowerment that provides an opportunity for growth and development and fosters autonomy. ASPIRE believes in the cultivation of resources, services, community, and human relationships to foster equity and allow dreams of freedom and independence to become a reality.
Information provided to TVL by:
Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.