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Shared Hope International Exposes Child Sex Trafficking in South Florida

Contact: Monique Johnson, Communications Coordinator, Shared Hope International, 703-351-8062, Monique@sharedhope.org

MIAMI, July 7 /Christian Newswire/ -- Shared Hope International will release a groundbreaking report and training video on domestic minor sex trafficking at the upcoming Child Slavery in Our Community Leadership and Training Summit. The Assessment of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in Broward and Dade Counties, Florida reveals that child victims of sex trafficking are being arrested for prostitution in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. These severely victimized and traumatized children are being misidentified as juvenile delinquents and punished for the crime that is being committed against them. In fact, the report documents more than 500 juveniles were arrested for prostitution in Miami-Dade County from 1998-2008. A lack of training for social service providers and first responders is noted as the primary gap causing the misidentification of child victims of sex trafficking.

"Many service providers currently work with victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, but are not aware of how to properly identify and respond to these children. Misidentification of just one child victim of sex trafficking is too many. However, I believe that the upcoming training we are hosting this Thursday will provide a springboard for response and action as the communities of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties come together to find a solution," said former Congresswoman Linda Smith, President and Founder of Shared Hope International.

On July 9, 2009 law enforcement officers, social service providers, and child advocates from Broward and Miami-Dade counties convene at St. Thomas University School of Law for the Child Slavery in Our Community Leadership and Training Summit. Organized by Shared Hope International, the summit will bring an exclusive focus on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking - the commercial sexual exploitation of children through prostitution, pornography, and stripping. Shared Hope International will use this event to release groundbreaking video with surveillance footage, survivor interviews, and expert testimony to educate and inform social service providers on how to identify and respond to American children who are commercially sexually exploited.

The new training video INTERVENE: Identifying and Responding to America's Prostituted Children, reveals how American children are recruited and tricked into prostitution in the United States and will assist social service providers in understanding who these victims are and how to better serve them. In the video, child sex trafficking survivor "Maya" who was trafficked in South Florida said this of surviving prostitution as a child:

"I would tell a social worker that she needs to be understanding and when she's talking to the girls to really focus on more or less why they want to be out of the life... If I had someone like Sandy from Kristi House years earlier I could have probably spared me a lot of years of abuse - of all the trauma and negativity."

The summit will feature remarks by Founder and President of Shared Hope International, Linda Smith (U.S. Congress 1994-98), Secretary George Sheldon of the Florida Department of Children and Families, and Andrew Oosterbaan, Chief of the Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

St. Thomas University School of Law
16401 NW 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens, Florida 33054

Thursday, July 9, 2009
10:00am – 4:00pm

About Shared Hope International
For more than a decade, Shared Hope International (SHI) has worked around the world partnering with local groups to prevent trafficking and to rescue and restore the victims of sexual slavery. Shared Hope International's DEMAND. project was a 12-month investigation which focused on commercial sexual exploitation in four countries, including the United States. With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), SHI conducted field assessments on child sex trafficking in 10 U.S. locations. Visit