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News and Updates - WTLC: Ending the Cycle of Violence and Exploitation
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News and Updates

Behind the Screens: Cyberbullying

Previous Updates from WTLC

MeTooNoMore

Beyond empowering survivors to reject stigma and shame and voice their experiences of sexual assault, the #MeToo movement has forced us as a society to have an uncomfortable conversation about the systems we have in place that allow such abuses of power to occur. This conversation was long overdue, and now that it has our attention, it’s crucial that we continue to present opportunities to discuss, learn, and engage with the topic.

 

WTLC’s Community Education program works within the community to encourage and facilitate these conversations, providing workshops and trainings to schools, businesses, and the community at large to encourage a society dedicated to the safety of its members.

Schools

Many adults balk at the idea of having serious conversations with the children in their lives about issues connected to sexual assault. And that’s fair—it can seem like a difficult topic to approach. But in order to provide a safer future for younger generations, it’s imperative that we begin these discussions early—especially since many of these topics involve issues that already affect kids in their daily lives.

 

For example: a little boy pulls a little girl’s pigtails at recess, even though she has told him to stop. Too often when something like this happens, the situation is dismissed with “Boys will be boys” or “He’s only doing it because he likes her.” Instead, we should recognize this as an excellent opportunity to sit both children down and explain the concept of consent. It’s as simple as telling them how important it is that they do not touch other people without their permission, and reaffirming that they are allowed to say no to situations that hurt them or make them uncomfortable.

 

For older children and teens, this involves having open and honest conversations about healthy relationships, and making sure they know who they can safely go to with questions or for help. One way to introduce these topics is to encourage them to examine situations that are portrayed as romantic in popular media that might actually be warning signs of unhealthy behaviors. For example, if a TV show has a character whose jealousy is presented as a romantic display of affection, you might discuss why that situation could become uncomfortable or unsafe.

Workplace

Power imbalances exist throughout our daily lives. Most of these imbalances are not inherently harmful or abusive, but each of them has the potential to be. A workplace needs to be a safe environment, and to achieve this, businesses can implement regular trainings and workshops to both teach the fundamentals of sexual harassment prevention and also encourage each staff person to reflect on their own power in the workplace.

 

For example: supervisors hold power over their employees; teachers hold power over their students; landlords hold power over their tenants; and law enforcement officers hold power over private citizens. Recognizing the power you hold can and should change the way you interact with people as you go about your workday. By encouraging each staff person to examine their own position in a workplace, businesses can encourage a healthier and safer environment for all their employees.

Community

Possibly the most important factor in creating a society of #MeTooNoMore is putting faith in our own community. Together we have the power to make change, to hold ourselves and our community to a higher standard, and to demand a safer society where no one has to live in fear.

 

We can make a commitment to continue the conversation started by the #MeToo movement, vocally standing with survivors by questioning unhealthy narratives in popular media, pushing back against victim blaming and misogyny, and educating ourselves in ways to support survivors who come to us for help.

 

Together we can end the cycle of violence and exploitation.

 

#MeTooNoMore

Fairhaven-kindness rocks 2

In December, Community Advocate Ana went to Fairhaven Elementary School to do a presentation on bullying prevention for about twenty parents and educators. The workshop discussed how to recognize the signs of bullying, how to initiate conversations around bullying with the kids in your lives, and where to find help if you discover bullying is affecting someone you know.

The adults in attendance were so inspired to maintain a safe school environment for their kids that they decided to launch a weeklong, school-wide celebration of kindness. This month during the week of Valentine’s Day, students and teachers alike celebrated kindness and made a commitment to keeping their school a safe and compassionate environment.

Kids wore purple in support of kindness, discussed why it is important to be kind to others, and participated in crafts that helped process the lessons they were learning—including Kindness Rocks, small painted stones that remind you just how much kindness rocks!

Children spend so much of their time at school that it’s critical that it exists as a safe, supportive, and compassionate environment for each and every student. By challenging the entire school to choose kindness, Fairhaven Elementary made an important stand against bullying, demonstrating their commitment to the safety of the children who spend their days in their care.

What is bullying?

 

  • Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior repeated over time that involves a real or perceived power imbalance
  • There are many types of bullying, including verbal, social, physical, and cyber
  • More than one in five students reports being bullied (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016)

 

What can we do to help?

 

  • Support the child who is being bullied
    • Let them know it isn’t their fault
    • Give them space to express their feelings without judgment
    • Discuss what they should do and who they can talk to if they feel unsafe
  • Support the child who is bullying
    • Make it clear that the behavior is unacceptable
    • Address underlying issues contributing to the behavior
    • Help identify productive activities that encourage cooperation and teamwork, and show support for these efforts
  • Build a community that does not tolerate bullying
    • If you witness bullying, intervene
    • Make it clear that the behavior is unacceptable and will need to stop
    • Talk to other children about what they should do if they see someone being bullied
    • If a situation is beyond your abilities, bring the behavior to the attention of someone who can help (parent, teacher, etc.)

Human Trafficking: Under-reported and Overlooked

Like Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking is a crime based in an abuse of power over another person. This form of modern-day slavery involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor, domestic servitude, or a commercial sex act against another person’s will.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, out of all fifty states and Washington DC, California had the highest volume of calls to the National Hotline for Human Trafficking in 2016. Orange County alone saw 225 human trafficking survivors seeking assistance that year. Human Trafficking victims can be any age, gender, race, or nationality, and because human trafficking is a crime based in control, survivors often feel dependent on the person who is causing them harm. Even after leaving the abusive situation, a survivor might encounter many barriers to independent living.

WTLC received a million dollar grant from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in 2017 to grow our Human Trafficking programs. To be spent over the course of two years, these funds have helped build our housing program and supportive services to meet the varied needs of survivors of human trafficking. In a 2008 study by the US Department of Health and Human Services, service providers and law enforcement personnel were asked to describe the needs of survivors of human trafficking. A common response was, “What DON’T they need?” Survivors might need any combination of medical treatment (either one-time or ongoing), emergency shelter, clothing, food, counseling, job training, permanent housing support, transportation, childcare, identification paperwork, immigration legal services, language assistance, and more.

WTLC’s Human Trafficking Program works with survivors to address all aspects of their recovery needs.  The Bridge Housing Program provides shelter options so survivors can transition into independent living without the added stress of housing instability; Clinical Advocates help survivors process and recover from the trauma of their experiences; Legal Advocates work with survivors to identify their legal options, helping them navigate the court system with confidence; Case Managers provide a range of additional supportive services ranging from the provision of basic needs to financial empowerment services to resource and referral support.

Human Trafficking is a crime that is all too often ignored or overlooked—with your support, we can ensure all of Orange County’s survivors are able to find independence and recovery.

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