With the Jeffrey Epstein case splashed across every news site in the country, Americans have a heightened focus on sex trafficking. Epstein, a powerful financier with friends in high places (think President Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew to start), faces federal charges of sex trafficking of underage girls and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.
The Miami Herald reports here that the power figures who have enabled Epstein’s evasion of justice for the last decade are growing nervous as prosecutors, journalists, and the public turn their attention to crimes against young girls.
But this is not just a story of corruption. It’s also the story of victimized girls who, as women, have become survivors and now victors. When women come forward as Epstein’s accusers have, victims use their voice. In the Herald article, Michael Reiter, Miami Beach’s former police chief, makes this statement: “Thankfully, the authorities in New York have the courage to investigate and prosecute Epstein in the way that should have occurred when the crimes were first reported in Florida over a decade ago.” Having these matters handled in secrecy and silence is compelling and disturbing across all socioeconomic levels, not just the very wealthy. It’s for this reason that we advocate for educating young people to decrease the numbers of future victims.
My Body Belongs to Me is a key educational program from Interface’s domestic violence prevention team. It teaches preschool and elementary-aged children across Ventura County how to honor and protect their bodies by recognizing the difference between safe and unsafe touches, and how to assert themselves if a person attempts to violate their boundaries.
Prevention efforts like My Body Belongs to Me yield positive results in the community. The cost to educate a child to raise their self-protection abilities is only $20, while the lifetime cost of being a victim of child abuse is placed at $210,000 per victim. Since the start of My Body Belongs to Me, we have educated tens of thousands of local children and their families in how to stay safe. Our goal is to reach 8,000 additional children and families in 2019.
Preventing sexual abuse through efforts like My Body Belongs to Me requires the collaboration of community members like you. Let’s be known as a Ventura County community that is protecting our children against those who would take advantage of them. Take a pledge today and join a growing list of individuals and families who have attended a presentation or invited us to speak about how to recognize the signs of abuse and what to do.
With respect and compassion,
Click here to donate or call (805) 485-6114.
This past month Interface’s Reentry Services celebrated its’ first 10 graduates. Carrie Vredenburgh, Probation Division Manager, Frank Chow, Ventura County Executive Office, Sam Kruse and Rashmi Khare,Social Finance, Inc., and Todd Howeth, Ventura County Public Defender joined the ICFS Executive Team in congratulating these individuals.