Raising awareness about local human trafficking will be at the forefront of the Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness of Hillsdale County fourth annual children’s charity ball this Saturday at the Hillsdale College Searle Center.
“Human trafficking is definitely a big topic right now in social media and the news,” CAPA Executive Director Christie Campbell said. “It is happening and we want to shed light on the topic for the community.”
In the fourth year of the charity ball, CAPA continues to choose topics to further its awareness and prevention efforts. For the past three years, CAPA has raised $15,000 each year for programming efforts, Campbell said. These programs have ranged from purchasing safe-sleep sacks for infants to offering sex abuse prevention classes.
“Our goal is to raise awareness and prevention efforts in Hillsdale County,” Campbell said. “We want to have the public ear on things that are happening on a daily basis.”
Jeremy Norwood, assistant professor of sociology at Spring Arbor University, will address charity ball attendees regarding human trafficking at a local level. CAPA Board President and Ball Chair Megan Stiverson said Norwood will talk about what human trafficking is, and what it looks like in the local area.
Stiverson said her role as a family court referee and juvenile court administrator in Hillsdale County has exposed her to local human trafficking.
“What I’m seeing is a hot-button topic that has a new definition of what constitutes human trafficking,” she said. “I see juveniles come in to court and we’re finding that in many cases, they have been trafficked sexually.”
Stiverson said that trafficking doesn’t always occur in the ways that people necessarily expect. Especially with the increase in technology, she said, trafficking can often take place in the means of inappropriate images or text messages sent.
“There are still people who would say we don’t have human trafficking here,” she said.
The evening will include a casino royale theme with raffle and silent auction. Interested parties may call CAPA at 517 – 437-3100 for more information.