May 28, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Colorado Springs Gazette "Springs could be sanctuary for trafficking victims"

Barbara Cotter: 
"The girl was 12, and the man who kidnapped her from Los Angeles promised to take care of her. To love her. And maybe it seemed he did, for awhile.

It wasn’t long before he put her out on the streets of Las Vegas and told her not to come home until she’d made $1,000 a day. Social service workers eventually got to her and sent her to Southern Peaks Regional Treatment Center in Cañon City, far from the reach of her pimp.

That was three or four years ago, and it was one of the first times the staff at Southern Peaks had encountered a young victim of sexual trafficking. As time went by, though, they realized that some of the adolescent girls being sent to them for other issues — drug use, behavioral problems, criminal activity — had also been involved in the sex trade, usually under the thumb of a much older man.

As a result, Southern Peaks started The Haven Program last year to focus on the special therapeutic needs of adolescents who have been sold for sex.

“It really became apparent to us that there was a problem,” said Jeremy Hugins, admissions coordinator and client liaison for Southern Peaks. “We came up with the program to meet the need we saw in front of us.”

With estimates of at least 100,000 children and adolescents being sexually exploited each year, experts say there’s a need for more programs that give the victims — most of them girls — a safe haven away from pimps and a chance to receive intensive therapy, schooling, job skills and a path out of a life that, paradoxically, many have a hard time leaving.

If plans come through, the Colorado Springs area could soon be a prime place for more of these girls to find a new life. Three faith-based nonprofits, working independently of one another, intend to open long-term rescue, treatment and reintegration programs in the next few years....."  (Read more?  Click title)

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