Walnut Hill Community Church, located at the corner of Smith and Ninth Streets in Derby is hosting a community awareness event in order to help raise awareness of the human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in the Valley, Connecticut and around the world.
Pastor Walt Mayhew from Walnut Hill’s Valley Campus spoke of the reason the church decided to get involved.
“The sexual exploitation and human trafficking of our children is rising dramatically. Yet many in our community are unaware. Our hope is to raise awareness by having experts in the field of social services and criminal justice share what it taking place.” Mayhew said.
According to statistical information provided by the church human trafficking and sexual exploitation is a world-wide 99-billion-dollar industry. In CT, just since 2016 referrals to DCF of suspected domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) has risen by 7,000 percent.
The state is broken up into six regions for statistical reporting purposes.
The region in which the Valley is located is tied for the highest rate of referrals. Since 2008 (as of third quarter, HART Data 2017) more than 800 children have been referred to Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families as being suspected of being victims of human trafficking, the youngest just being 2 years old.
“The time is at hand to raise awareness and mobilize out communities so our children can be protected and we want to do our part.” Mayhew said. The event features a panel discussion/presentation by experts in the field, which includes:
Annmarie Boulay: Director of Women’s Ministry Wintonbury Church & Co-founder of The Underground
Jillian Gilchrest: Director of Health Professional Outreach at CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Tim Palmbach: Professor & Chair of Forensic Science at the University of New Haven
Theresa Leonard: Co-founder of The Underground, Survivor of DMST
Yvette Young: Project Director, Human Antitrafficking Response Team for DCF, Village for Families and Children.
The event is taking place Thursday, March 1 at Walnut Hill Community Church’s Valley Campus, located at the corner of Smith and 9th Streets in Derby beginning at 7 p.m.
Further information can be obtained from the church’s website: www.walnuthillcc.org/valley-campus or by calling 203-732-5220.