CSU to host first Northern Colorado human trafficking symposium Feb. 22

Rebecca Bender - Featured Speaker

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By Jennifer Dimas

In Colorado, 30 percent of kids who run away from home will be recruited to trade sex for food and other necessities within 48 hours. The average number of homeless youth in Colorado at any given time is 1,500. Those stark numbers outline the issues to be addressed at Northern Colorado’s first annual Human Trafficking Symposium at Colorado State University Feb. 22.

The day-long symposium will focus on the many facets of human trafficking to help Northern Colorado professionals, community members, faculty, staff and students learn more and receive training on how to combat it.

“We are honored to be able to help sponsor this important event, highlighting for our community a terrible aspect of our society that is ill-understood and too often overlooked,” said Rick Miranda, CSU’s provost and executive vice president. “It’s our obligation to expose these crimes and make effective plans to eradicate them, locally, nationally and internationally.”

112 recovered in Colorado

“In 2017, 112 youth were recovered from sex trafficking in our state,” said Beth Bruno, executive director of A Face To Reframe and chair of the symposium steering committee. “In 2016, in Larimer County alone, we saw 204 Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children charges. What we hear from those providing services is that they need the next level of training, and concerned citizens want to better understand how this happens and what to do. The symposium is an answer to these two needs.”

The Human Trafficking Symposium, a collaboration among A Face to Reframe, Free Our Girls, the CSU College of Business, and Rescue: Freedom, takes place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Lory Student Center, and is sponsored by the Richardson Foundation.

Nationally recognized expert on human trafficking featured

Keynote speaker Rebecca Bender is a survivor of six years of sex trafficking and author of Roadmap to Redemption. Bender is an award-winning, nationally recognized expert on human trafficking, and the founder and CEO of Rebecca Bender Initiatives (RBI). RBI’s advanced training has been used by the FBI, Homeland Security, former President Jimmy Carter, local law enforcement, medical professionals, service providers and faith communities across America.

Other featured speakers include:

  • Jeremy Vallerand, president and CEO of Rescue: Freedom International, a nonprofit organization working around the world to empower the rescue and restoration of those trapped in sexual slavery and prevent exploitation. Vallerand has been featured in Forbes as a leading social entrepreneur and has a diverse background working with corporations, government leaders and global NGOs.
  • Becca Johnson is a recognized and respected leader in the anti-trafficking movement. With over 25 years of experience as a licensed psychologist, she brings a unique perspective and skill set that enable a holistic approach to recovery and restoration for survivors of sexual exploitation.

Breakout sessions

In addition to three plenary sessions at 8 a.m.noon and 4 p.m., breakout sessions on topics including the economics of sexual exploitation; ending demand; human trafficking laws; incorporating human trafficking into academics; and what parents and others can do to prevent trafficking will be presented. Professionals can earn continuing education credits as well.

Free and open to the public, registration required

The symposium is free for CSU students, faculty and staff, and community members to attend, but registration is required. The Professional 201 track costs $25, plus $54 for CEU credit. Boxed lunches are available for $8 before the noon plenary; campus parking permits for $12.

For more information and to register, go to humantraffickingsymposium.